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Part 2, Lessons 1-5 Suggested Resources

This resource was written by Jaclyn Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on August 7, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource introduces Part 2 of the GED preparation materials and discusses essay topic matter and methods of scoring.

Introduction

In the second part of the GED Language Arts, Writing test, you will have 45 minutes to plan, write, and revise an essay. While it is recommended that you use the full 45 minutes for this part of the test, if you finish early, go back to work on the multiple-choice questions from Part I. Provided below is information about the essay topics. This section also explains how your essay will be scored. Lastly, the section discusses what readers are looking for when they score your essay.

Essay Topic

The topic provided—also called the writing prompt—will cover a subject of general interest. Responding to the topic will not require you to have specific knowledge of any subject area, but instead will require you to draw on your own experiences and observations. You will be asked to give an opinion or an explanation of something. A few sample essay topics are listed below.

Scoring Information

Your essay will be read by two trained essay readers who will each assign it a score from 1 to 4. The four possible essay scores are as follows:

It is important to know that essay readers perform what is known as “holistic” scoring, meaning that they give your essay a score based on their overall impression. The two readers’ scores are averaged to form one score for your essay. If your essay receives an average score of 2 or higher, this score is combined with your score from Part I to make a composite score for the Language Arts, Writing test. If it receives a score below 2, the testers will not assign a composite score. You will have to retake both parts of the Language Arts, Writing test.

There are five major standards that essay readers will use to evaluate your essay. Descriptions of these standards are listed below and are reprinted with permission of the American Council on Education.

  1. Response to prompt refers to how well the candidate responded to the topic, including whether or not the focus of the response shifted.
  2. Organization refers to whether or not there is evidence that the candidate had a clear idea about what he or she would write and was able to establish a definable plan for writing the essay.
  3. Development and details refers to the candidate’s ability to expand on initial concepts or statements through the use of examples and specific details rather than using lists or reiterating the same information.
  4. Conventions of Edited American English refers to the candidate’s ability to use appropriately edited written English, including the application of the basic rules of grammar, such as sentence structure, mechanics, usage, and so forth.
  5. Word choice refers to the candidate’s ability to use appropriate words to express an idea.

The lessons included in this resource are based on the five major areas that readers use to score your essay. You might recognize some of the key words and concepts discussed in these lessons from previous classes or reading. Even though the lessons are tailored to the GED essay, the ideas discussed in this resource may relate to writing situations you have encountered in the past or will encounter in the future. Studying these lessons will help you develop your writing skills for use in many situations in addition to the GED essay.

The following table, reprinted with permission of the American Council on Education, will help you further understand how the four-point scale and the five major scoring standards are used together to evaluate the essays.

Official GED Scoring Guide

     1  2  3  4
 Inadequate  Marginal  Adequate  Effective
Reader has difficulty identifying or following the writer's ideas. Reader occasionally has difficulty understanding or following the writer's ideas. Reader understands writer's ideas. Reader understands and easily follows the writer's expression of ideas.
Response to the Prompt Attempts to address prompt but with little or no success in establishing a focus. Addresses the prompt, though the focus may shift. Uses the writing prompt to establish a main idea. Presents a clearly focused main idea that addresses the prompt.
Organization Fails to organize ideas. Shows some evidenice of organizational plan. Uses an identifiable organizational plan. Establishes a clear and logical organization.
Development and Details Demonstrates little or no development; usually lacks details or examples or presents irrelevant information. Has some development but lacks specific details; may be limited to a listing, repetitions, or generalizations. Has focused but occasionally uneven development; incorporates some specific detail. Achieves coherent development with specific and relevant details and examples.
Conventions of EAE Exhibits minimal or no control of sentence structure and the conventions of EAE. Demonstrates inconsistent control of sentence structure and the conventions of EAE. Generally controls sentence structure and the conventions of EAE. Consistently controls sentence structure and the conventions of Edited American English (EAE).
Word Choice Exhibits weak and/or inappropriate words. Exhibits a narrow range of word choice. Often including inappropriate selections. Exhibits appropriate word choice. Exhibits varied and precise word choice.

GED is a registered trademark of the American Council on Education and may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the American Council on Education.

2.1: Understanding the Prompt

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on March 23, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource covers responding to the writing prompt, beginning with understanding the prompt and what it is asking you to do.

Lesson 1: Response to the Prompt

To succeed at the GED essay, you need to respond to the prompt provided. This is one area in which taking a few minutes to plan your essay before you begin writing will be very helpful to you. This lesson provides tips for understanding the prompt, gathering ideas that relate to the prompt, and finding a main idea that responds to the prompt.

Understanding the Prompt

It is very important that you understand what you are being asked to write about. Because you only have 45 minutes for this part of the GED, you probably will not have time to revise your essay if you realize too late that you have misunderstood the prompt. The very first thing you should do during this portion of the test is think about the prompt to make sure you understand what you are being asked to write.

Take a few minutes to go through these steps:

Step 1 - Read the prompt carefully: This is not the time to skim-read. The prompts are generally not very long, but it’s important that you read slowly and carefully to make sure you understand what is being asked of you. Reading the prompt carefully will get you on track early in the writing process.

Step 2 - Underline key words: The prompt will contain key words that will reveal the prompt’s topic. The prompt will also communicate how you are expected to write about the topic. These key words might include action verbs that tell you what to do and nouns that tell you what topics to cover. Underlining these words will help you focus on them as you plan your essay.

Step 3 - Restate the prompt in your words: The best way to understand the prompt and commit it to memory is to repeat it in your own words. Pretend that you are explaining the prompt to yourself or another student. Restating the prompt in your words will help you think clearly about the prompt and absorb it.

The following is a sample GED essay topic from the American Council on Education. Practice the three steps for understanding the essay topic using this sample topic.

Sample Essay Topic

What is one important goal you would like to achieve in the next few years?

In your essay, identify that one goal and explain how you plan to achieve it. Use your personal observations, experience, and knowledge to support your essay.

Step 1: Reading the prompt carefully

This sample essay topic is structured in three sentences. This is relatively typical of GED essay prompts. Take advantage of the fact that you do not have to read a lot by making sure that you read thoroughly. Most people find it useful to read the prompt a few times.

Step 2: Underlining key words
Essay topics contain important words that provide clues about what you should write about and how you should write. A few key words from the sample essay topic are underlined below.

What is one important goal you would like to achieve in the next few years?

In your essay, identify that one goal and explain how you plan to achieve it. Use your personal observations, experience, and knowledge to support your essay.

Notice that the words goal and achieve are each repeated twice. Clearly, they are important key words within the essay prompt. The topic for the prompt is a goal that you would like to achieve.

Notice the words one and few. These are two very important key words. A common mistake would be to write about many goals, even though the prompt tells you to focus on only one goal. Another common mistake would be to discuss goals that you want to achieve across a lifetime, even though the prompt clearly tells you to focus on only the next few years of your life. The topic for the prompt is limited to one goal that you would like to achieve in the next few years.

Notice the action verbs identify and explain. These two words tell you how you should write about your topic. Make sure to do both. The essay prompt is asking you to identify and explain your topic.

Notice the words personal observations, experience, and knowledge. These are all subjects that you can talk about in your essay. The word personal is also extremely important here. You’re not being asked to do outside research or reading, but instead, to talk about observations, experience, and knowledge that are personal to you.

Step 3: Restating the prompt in your words
After reading the essay carefully a few times and thinking about the key words, how would you restate the prompt? Imagine that you are explaining it to someone else, perhaps someone who does not have the essay prompt in front of them. How would you explain it?

2.1: Brainstorm for the Essay

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on March 23, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource covers methods of developing ideas for the essay you will be required to write.

Brainstorming Ideas

After you have a good grasp of what the prompt is asking, you should figure out how you will respond. You may have heard teachers refer to this stage as pre-writing. At this stage, you should brainstorm many ideas. You won’t necessarily use all of the ideas you come up with, but it’s helpful to have lots of ideas to choose from when planning your essay. After you have gathered many ideas, you’ll work on figuring out your main idea. Even though you may feel rushed to begin writing right away, it’s important to take some time to go through this step to make sure you have an interesting main idea and plenty of supporting points.

You might use one or both of the following methods to gather your ideas. Experiment with both of them to see what best helps you brainstorm your ideas.

Brainstorming Method 1: Idea Map

Drawing a map of your ideas is helpful in many ways. First, people often find that seeing a visual representation of their thoughts helps them to add more ideas and sort through them. Also, drawing a map might help you see how your thoughts connect to one another, which will help you when you begin organizing your essay.

In the center of the map, write your topic and draw a circle around it. When you come up with a new idea, write it down, draw a circle around it, and draw a line to show how it connects to the topic in the center and/or the other ideas you’ve written down. Look at the main ideas you’ve written and see if you can think of other ideas that connect to them. Remember that it is okay—actually, it is great—if you have many ideas right now. You won’t necessarily use all of them in your essay, but all it’s important to collect many ideas right now. The map below uses the sample essay topic from the previous resource to show you what an idea map might look like.

This image shows the main idea of a paper in the center circle and related, supporting ideas brancing out from it.

To practice with this brainstorming method, draw your own idea map using the sample essay topic.

Brainstorming Method 2: Idea List

Rather than draw a map, some people prefer to brainstorm by simply listing their ideas. This is a fairly straightforward method of brainstorming ideas. Though not as visual as an idea map, lists are a great way of finding and recording your ideas. Idea lists help you “mine” your ideas so that you have many to choose from and also help you find a main idea and supporting points, which will be useful as you plan your essay.

At the top of your list, write your topic. Writing out your topic helps you focus on it. Then, list the ideas you think of in the order that they come to you. You can use many lists to find supporting points for each of your ideas. The lists below use the sample essay topic above to show you what idea lists might look like.

Example Idea List

What is an important goal I have for the next few years?

How can I achieve my goal?

To practice with this brainstorming method, make your own idea list using the sample essay topic.

2.1: Developing a Main Idea

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on May 12, 2010 .

Summary:
This resource covers methods of developing a main idea for your essay.

Choosing a Main Idea

After you have brainstormed about your topic to find many ideas, you must choose a main idea for your essay. A main idea is the major point you will make in your essay. Your essay will also have subpoints, but each subpoint will support this major point. It is very important that your essay have a main idea. It is also very important that your main idea responds adequately to the prompt provided.

Look at your idea map or list and ask yourself the following questions:

What are the connections between the different ideas in my map/list?

In the example map and list, it is clear that getting a better job, finishing school, and learning a new language are all connected.

What major idea in my map/list has the most subpoints?

In the example map and list, getting a better job has the most subpoints. Learning a new language and finishing school also have many subpoints. Since both learning a new language and finishing school are connected to getting a better job, they could also be seen as subpoints of the main idea getting a better job.

What idea in my map/list interests me most and/or do I feel most strongly about?

Based on the number of subpoints, it seems like getting a better job is most interesting to the author of the example map and list.

What main idea best responds to the prompt provided?

All of the ideas in the example map and list respond fairly well to the prompt because they all identify goals that could be achieved in the next few years. Keeping in touch with family and friends may not be as related to the prompt. This is a goal that most people will have throughout a lifetime, not just throughout the next few years.

After you choose a main idea for your essay, write a sentence that reflects this main idea and responds to the prompt provided. Your main idea might sound like:

An important goal I would like to achieve in the next few years is getting a better job.

Now you practice! Look over the idea map and list you created with the sample essay topic. Use the questions above to review your brainstormed ideas, choose a main idea, and write a main idea sentence.

For more information about responding to a writing prompt, please visit these Purdue OWL resources:

To practice responding to a writing prompt, please use the CWEST GED Essay Game.

 

2.2: Parts of the Essay, Outlining

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on March 23, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource covers the three-part organization of successful GED essays. The resource also covers outlining.

Lesson 2: Organizing the Essay

It is great to have many ideas to write about, but it is also important to organize those ideas in a logical way that your reader can understand. Without an effective organization, your essay can become confusing, and your main idea can get lost on the reader. Taking a few minutes to outline your essay before you begin writing will help you organize your ideas and group them effectively throughout your essay. This lesson explains the three major parts of the essay. The lesson provides tips for creating an outline with your main idea and subpoints. Lastly, the lesson explains how to use thesis statements and topic sentences.

The Three Parts of the Essay

Your essay will have three main parts:

1. Introduction: The introduction should be one paragraph. It should introduce the topic and main idea and preview the rest of your essay. The introduction will also include your thesis statement.

2. Body: The body is generally made up of three paragraphs. Each paragraph supports and develops (adds detail to) your main idea. To guide your reader, each body paragraph should begin with a clear topic sentence.

3. Conclusion: The conclusion is one paragraph. It summarizes the body paragraphs and concludes the essay.

Creating an Outline with a Main Idea and Subpoints

In Lesson 1, we discussed how to brainstorm ideas using idea maps and lists. We also discussed how to choose a main idea. It is most effective to select your main idea and subpoints before writing your essay because you can use your main idea and subpoints to make an outline.

Look back at the sample essay question and brainstorming methods from Lesson 1.

Sample Essay Topic

What is one important goal you would like to achieve in the next few years?

In your essay, identify that one goal and explain how you plan to achieve it. Use your personal observations, experience, and knowledge to support your essay.


From the example idea map and list in Lesson 1, it appeared that the main idea was getting a better job. The writer identified her main idea as follows:

An important goal I would like to achieve in the next few years is getting a better job.

The next step is to find subpoints that will support and develop this main idea. Again, we can look to the brainstorming methods this writer used to find possible subpoints. From her idea map and list, it was clear that other ideas the student writer listed--finishing school, learning a new language, preparing a resume, and searching for jobs--all connected to getting a better job.

The writer could choose finishing school, preparing a resume, and searching for jobs as her three subpoints, since each of these could be seen as steps to getting a better job. In other words, these three subpoints develop add detail to and support her main idea. Each body paragraph will focus on one of these subpoints.

Once you choose a main idea and three subpoints, it will be easier for you to create an outline for your essay. You do not need to spend a lot of time on this; you only have 45 minutes to plan, write, and proofread your work. Developing an outline will help you stay on track.

You know that you need to have an introduction and a conclusion—these will be the first and last paragraphs of your essay. What about the three paragraphs in between? How do you decide what order they should go in? Well, you have a number of options. A few of the most common options for ordering your body paragraphs are listed below.

In order of importance: You might feel like one of your subpoints is stronger than the other two, or even that one subpoint is most important, one least important, and one in between. If you are asked to argue something, it can be a good idea to put your subpoints in order of importance. You could begin with what you see as your weakest argument and then lead up to the strongest argument so that you drive home your main idea more and more with each paragraph. You can even use a signal phrase such as, “the most important reason,” when you get to your most important subpoint. Or you could frontload your most important idea to grab readers’ attention and persuade them early in the essay.

Chronologically: In some essays, you might find yourself describing a process and maybe even explaining the steps to something. If this is the case, you may choose to use a chronological order, meaning that you will focus on when things happen. If you use this organization, you can use signal phrases like “first, second, third” or “first, next, last” to guide your reader.

Compare and contrast:
Many GED essay prompts will ask you to compare, contrast, or both. To compare means to talk about the similarities and to contrast means to talk about differences. You can divide your paragraphs into similarities and differences, so that each paragraph discusses only one similarity or one difference. If you are discussing all similarities or all differences, you can use signal phrases like “another similarity” or “another difference.” If you are discussing both similarities and differences, you can use a signal phrase like “on the other hand” to show your move from comparison to contrast.

For the sample essay topic, a chronological method of organization might be an effective organizing strategy, since achieving a goal often involves a series of steps. An outline for the essay might look like this:

I. Introduction: states the main idea (getting a better job)
II. Body Paragraph: first, finish school
III. Body Paragraph: next, prepare resume
IV. Body Paragraph: finally, search for jobs
V. Conclusion

In sum, the goal is to choose a main idea and three subpoints that support and develop this main idea. Next, you want to choose an organization that you feel works best for your topic. Finally, it is a good idea to compose a short outline you can follow while writing your essay. Using the idea map and list you created in Lesson 1, practice choosing a main idea and three subpoints that develop and support it. Then, choose a method for ordering your subpoints and write an outline like the one above.

2.2: Developing a Thesis

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on March 22, 2013 .

Summary:

This resource covers how you can develop a thesis statement for your GED essay.

Thesis Statements

You may have heard teachers in the past talk about the thesis statement. The thesis statement is a sentence that summarizes the main point of your essay and previews your supporting points. The thesis statement is important because it guides your readers from the beginning of your essay by telling them the main idea and supporting points of your essay.

Generally, the thesis statement is the final sentence of your introduction. Sometimes, it is a good idea to use two sentences. For example, you might identify your main point in one sentence and then identify your supporting points in a second sentence. (Some might call this second sentence a preview sentence.) Other times, your thesis statement will only be one sentence. Either is acceptable, but remember that you need a clear thesis statement at the end your introduction so that your reader understands your main point and knows what to expect from the rest of your essay.

To create your thesis statement, consider the following.

What is the essay prompt asking you to do? (It will be helpful to look at the key words that you’ve underlined). Are you being asked to describe something, compare the advantages of disadvantages of a topic, argue an opinion, or something else?

 


Think about each of these questions in relation to the sample essay topic.

What is the essay prompt asking you to do?

The sample essay question asks the writer to identify one goal and explain how she or he will achieve it.

What is your main idea?

For example, if you're writing an essay about your career goals and you're in the middle of a career transition, your main idea might on getting a better job.  

What are your subpoints?

Our example writer has chosen three subpoints to support her main idea: (1) finish school, (2) prepare a resume, and (3) search for jobs.

Your thesis statement should respond directly to the essay prompt and sum up your main idea. It is also helpful to preview your subpoints in the thesis statement. So, once you have everything identified (what the essay prompt is asking you to do, what your main point is, and what your subpoints are), you can put it altogether. A thesis statement for the sample essay topic might sound like this: 

A major goal I would like to accomplish in the next few years is getting a better job. My plan to get a better job is to finish school, prepare a résumé, and then search for jobs. 



- or -

It is my goal in the next few years to get a better job by finishing school, preparing a résumé, and then searching for jobs.



Now you try! Using what you have done so far—idea map and lists, outline, etc.—write a thesis statement that responds to the sample essay topic. Remember that there is no one perfect thesis statement, but do your best to respond to the essay prompt, sum up your main idea, and preview your subpoints.

2.2: Topic Sentences

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on August 7, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource covers methods of composing topic sentences for the paragraphs in your GED essay.

Topic Sentences

Topic sentences are sort of like thesis statements for your body paragraphs. A clear topic sentence will establish the main idea of the paragraph so that the reader understands what each body paragraph is about. The topic sentence does not need to be the very first sentence of the paragraph, but it should be near the beginning.

When writing the topic sentence for a body paragraph, consider the main idea of the paragraph. If you have already chosen the subpoints for your essay, it will make it even easier, since the each body paragraphs will focus on one subpoint. Our example writer’s topic sentences may sound something like the sentences below:

You will notice that each of these sentences uses key words—“first, next, and final”—to transition between each paragraph. This is a very smart thing to do when writing your topic sentences, because words like these help your reader follow your points and connect them to one another. For more examples of transition words and phrases, see Lesson 4 on word choice.

Now you try! Write three topic sentences that correspond to the three subpoints you have chosen in response to the sample essay topic. Remember to keep the sentences clear and focused on the main idea of each body paragraph.

For more information about organizing your essay, please visit these Purdue OWL resources:

To practice responding to a writing prompt, please use the CWEST GED Essay Game.

2.3: Introductions

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on March 23, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource explains how to organize your essay's introduction.

Lesson 3: Development and Details

Choosing a main idea and subpoints, creating an outline, and producing a thesis statement and topic sentences are all great first steps to writing a successful GED essay. The solid foundation you make during the planning phase of your writing process is extremely important. But what comes next? Remember the third criterion that essay readers use to score your essay: development and details. While writing your essay, you must develop and support your ideas with details. This lesson provides tips for using details develop and support the main ideas you discovered during the planning phase and to expand the outline you created while planning.

Writing a Developed and Detailed Introduction

You know your introduction needs a clear thesis statement. But what else do you put in the paragraph? To answer that question, think about the purpose of an introduction:

Your thesis statement will identify your main idea and preview the rest of your essay. Remember that this can be either one or two sentences. You will probably place your thesis at the end of your introduction paragraph. You can use the other sentences in your introduction to introduce your topic, create interest, and provide necessary background information.

Let's look again at the sample essay topic from Lesson 1 and Lesson 2.

Sample Essay Topic

What is one important goal you would like to achieve in the next few years?

In your essay, identify that one goal and explain how you plan to achieve it. Use your personal observations, experience, and knowledge to support your essay.

The paragraph below is an example introduction for this topic. As you read, think about what each sentence does within the paragraph. What sentence(s) introduce the topic and create interest? What sentence(s) provide background information? What sentence(s) identify the main idea and preview the rest of the essay?

"Making goals for myself and working toward them keeps me on my toes and makes my life interesting. There are many goals that I would like to achieve throughout my life. I have begun working toward many of them by looking into going back to school and thinking about what I’d like to do for a career. One major goal I would like to accomplish in the next few years is getting a better job. My plan to get a better job is to finish school, prepare a resume, and then search for jobs."

Notice how the first two sentences introduce the topic and create interest in it. The third sentence provides some background information for the reader. Although this background information might not be absolutely necessary, it gives the reader some background for the essay and also creates interest in the topic. The final two sentences identify the main idea and preview the rest of the essay. Notice also the movement from general to specific in this paragraph. When you read carefully through the paragraph, you’ll notice that each sentence is a bit more specific than the last. It’s a good idea to move from general to specific like this in your introduction.

Now try writing your own introduction. Use the sample essay topic, the brainstorming, and the outline work you completed in Lessons 1 and 2 to help you. Remember to include two or three sentences that introduce your topic, create interest, and provide necessary background information. Finally, include one or two sentences that identify your main idea and preview the rest of your essay.

2.3: Body Paragraphs

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on March 23, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource discusses developing ideas and providing details for the body paragraphs of your essay.

Writing Developed and Detailed Body Paragraphs

In Lesson 2, we said that your three body paragraphs support the main idea of your essay. In each body paragraph, you also have a main idea that needs to be supported. The development and details you provide in each body paragraph support each paragraph’s main idea.

In Lesson 2, we also talked about the importance of having a clear topic sentence for each of your body paragraphs. The topic sentence, which is typically near the beginning of your paragraph, serves as the thesis statement for the paragraph. Aside from a clear topic sentence, what else can you put in each body paragraph? The answer: sentences that provide supporting details for your paragraph’s main idea.

The diagram below illustrates the relationship between your essay’s main idea and thesis statement, your paragraphs’ main ideas and topic sentences, and the supporting details you provide in each paragraph.
This image shows how developing paragraphs sit beneath and support an essay's maid idea.
Consider the three example topic sentences from Lesson 2. These three topic sentences represent the three subpoints our example writer has chosen to support her main idea of “getting a better job.”

Topic Sentence for Body Paragraph 1: The first step I will take to getting a better job is to finish school.

Topic Sentence for Body Paragraph 2: Next, I will work toward getting a better job by preparing a resume.

Topic Sentence for Body Paragraph 3: The final step I plan to take to get a better job is to search for jobs.

For each subpoint, what are some details that would add development and support? Some ideas are listed below.

Main Idea of Body Paragraph Supporting Details
Finish School getting a course list from the community college; figuring out what classes I want to take; meeting with an advisor; signing up for classes
Preparing a Resume listing my skills and experience, finding sample resumes, drafting a resume, getting someone to look at it
Searching for Jobs going to the community job center; looking online for jobs I’m qualified for; talking to friends and advisors about opportunities; making a list of possible job leads

The paragraph below is an example body paragraph about finishing school.

"The first step I will take to getting a better job is to finish school. I can get a course catalogue from the community college and study it to see what classes sound interesting. After I think about what sounds interesting and would be helpful to me, I can decide which ones I want to take. Then, I can meet with an academic advisor to get advice about what courses I would need to get my degree. After I figure out what classes to take and get advice from an advisor, I can sign up for the classes I need and want to take."

Your turn! Write down a few details that develop and support each of the three subpoints you chose in Lesson 2. Next, practice writing a body paragraph. Begin with one of the topic sentences that you drafted in Lesson 2 and write a few sentences that reflect the supporting details you’ve brainstormed for that subpoint.

2.3: Conclusions

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on March 22, 2013 .

Summary:

This resource covers writing a detailed conclusion for your GED essay.

Writing a Developed and Detailed Conclusion

It is important to have a strong conclusion, since this is the last chance you have to make an impression on your reader. The goal of your conclusion isn’t to introduce any new ideas, but to sum up everything you’ve written. Specifically, your conclusion should accomplish three major goals:

The paragraph below is an example conclusion. As you read, think about what each sentence accomplishes within the paragraph. What sentence(s) restates the essay’s thesis statement? What sentence(s) summarizes the essay’s three subpoints? What sentence(s) leaves the reader with an interesting final impression?

Getting a better job is a goal that I would really like to accomplish in the next few years. Finishing school will take me a long way to meeting this goal. To meet my goal, I will also prepare my résumé and search for jobs. My goal may not be an easy one to achieve, but things that are worth doing are often not easy.



Notice that the first sentence restates the thesis. The second and third sentences summarize the essay’s subpoints. Finally, the fourth sentence leaves the reader with an interesting final impression.

No new information is presented in this paragraph. Instead, the writer sums up what has been written so far and leaves the reader with a last thought. While the content of the paragraph is very similar to the introduction, the paragraph itself is not exactly the same. This is important. Even though the goal of the conclusion is to restate a lot of the information from the introduction, it should sound different because the conclusion’s purpose is slightly different from the introduction.

Practice writing a conclusion using the sample essay topic and the thesis statement. Remember to support the points you have gathered. Remember to restate your thesis, summarize your subpoints, and leave the reader with an interesting final impression.

For more information development and details, please visit these Purdue OWL resources:

To practice responding to a writing prompt, please use the CWEST GED Essay Game.

2.4: Spelling and Punctuation

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on March 23, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource discusses the conventions of Edited American English (EAE), which is the language standard applied to the GED. Specifically, this page deals with spelling and punctuation.

Conventions of Edited American English

When you are in a rush to get your ideas on paper, it can be easy to overlook sentence-level correctness. However, carefully editing your composition for correctness is an important step to writing the GED essay. Following conventions of Edited American English (EAE) is one factor readers will use to score your essay. This lesson provides information about the conventions of EAE. The lesson also provides examples of common errors and how to correct them. Lastly, the lesson discusses strategies for finding and correcting your own errors. As you review ESE and practice finding your errors, the lessons for Part I of the Language Arts Writing Test might also be useful.

You may initially feel overwhelmed by the task of proofreading for Edited American English. Part of this is that “Edited American English” sounds like a pretty broad term, and it can be hard to know where to begin. However, there are a number of specifics you should review. Once you know what these are, proofreading becomes a less intimidating task. The conventions of EAE that you should look for when proofreading are listed below.

Common Errors

The list below includes many common errors that writers make. Reviewing this list will help you know what to look for when proofreading your own writing. With time, you will get used to the errors that you make most often. Using this list will also help you proofread because you will understand what errors to look out for when revising your writing.

Spelling

IE/EI: Words like “receive” and “their” often cause problems for writers because it is so hard to remember whether the “i” or the “e” comes first.

You’ve probably heard the rule below before. Keep it in mind while checking your IE/EI words.

Write I before E
Except after C
Or when it sounds like an A
As in "neighbor" and "weigh"

There are a few exceptions to the rule: seize, either, weird, height, foreign, leisure, conscience, counterfeit, forfeit, leisure, neither, science, species, sufficient.

Homonyms: These are words that sound alike but are spelled differently. Even very experienced writers have difficulty with homonyms, especially when writing quickly. Below are some words that people commonly confuse:

Punctuation

Comma splices: A comma splice occurs when you try to link two main clauses with just a comma, as in the following:

I enjoy watching television, I really like reality shows.

You can correct a comma splice by adding a conjunction (and, but, for, or, so, yet):

I enjoy watching television, and I really like reality shows.

Apostrophes: Remember that you need an apostrophe ( ‘ ) each time you show possession (as in, Mike’s house) or use a contraction (as in, they’re for they are or he’s for he is). You don’t need an apostrophe when making a word plural (as in, Rachel has four cats).

2.4: Sentences and Sentence Structure

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on March 23, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource covers Edited American English rules for sentences and sentence structure.

Sentences

In order to write sentences that will make sense in your GED essay, you will have to make sure you are composing complete sentences. The following guidelines will help you with writing clear, concise, and grammatically correct sentences. Specifically, the following examples are common errors people make when writing. Try to avoid these mistakes and use the suggestions to help you correct your errors.

Fragments: Fragment sentences occur when your sentence is merely a dependent clause. Consider the following sentence:

Because I didn’t see the stop sign.

This sentence is a fragment because it is a dependent clause. You may also notice that the sentence seems to be an incomplete thought; you might be wondering what happened because the writer didn’t see the stop sign. By pairing this dependent clause with an independent clause, we fix the sentence:

I kept driving because I didn’t see the stop sign.

Fragment sentences also occur when a sentence lacks both a subject and a verb. Consider the following sentence:

Ran into an old friend at the mall.

This fragment sentence has a verb, “ran”, but lacks a subject. By including a subject, we can correct the sentence:

I ran into an old friend at the mall.

Run-ons: Run-on sentences occur when your sentence contains more than one independent clause. An independent clause has both a subject and a verb and expresses a complete thought. Consider the following sentence:

I stopped by Manuel’s house he was busy getting ready for the party.

There are two subjects (“I” and “he”) and two verbs (“stopped” and “was”) in this sentence. Therefore, there are two independent clauses: 1. “I stopped by Manuel’s house” and 2. “He was busy getting ready for the party.”

You can fix a run-on sentence by separating the two independent clauses with a semi-colon or a comma and a conjunction. You can also fix a run-on sentence by simply breaking the sentence up. Below are some corrected versions of our example run-on:

Sentence Structure

Consider the following paragraph:

I would like to get a new job. I want a job that will challenge me. I will prepare my resume to get a new job. I should also have someone look over my resume to give me advice. I will find a new job after I prepare my resume by searching job listings on the Internet and in the newspaper.

Do you notice how all the paragraph’s sentences sound similar? Each begins with the same subject—“I.” Also, the sentences are all the same structurally because they begin with a subject and a verb. Finally, each sentence is about the same length. We can make this paragraph sound far more interesting if we vary the sentences a bit. Consider the revised paragraph below.

I would like to get a new job that will challenge me. First, I will prepare my resume and have someone look it over to give me advice. After I prepare my resume, I will search job listings on the Internet and in the newspaper.

2.4: Subject-Verb Agreement and Tense

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on March 23, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource covers subject-verb agreement and verb tense for your GED essays.

Subject-Verb Agreement

A very common error is when subjects and verbs do not match in number. Plural nouns should be matched with plural verbs; singular nouns should be matched with singular verbs. In the following sentences, the subjects and verbs do not agree.

Incorrect: Maria and her friend is going to the store.
Plural Subject: Maria and her friend/Singular verb: is
Correct: Maria and her friend are going to the store

Incorrect: One of the cereal boxes are open.
Singular Subject: One of the cereal boxes/Plural Verb: are
Correct: One of the cereal boxes is open.

Incorrect: Either* are fine.
Singular Subject: Either/Plural Verb: are
Correct: Either is fine.

*The words each, each one, either, neither, everyone, everybody, anybody, anyone, nobody, somebody, someone, and no one are singular and require a singular verb.

Verb Tense

Verb tense helps readers to understand relationships among events. Writers must be very careful with verb tenses because inconsistent use of verb tense can be very confusing for the reader. When writing, be mindful of whether events are in the past, present, or future, and adjust your verb tense accordingly. Consider the following paragraph below (the verbs are in italics).

My sister sprains her ankle on Tuesday and went to the hospital. Then, on Thursday, she drops a dish on her toe and hurt her toe too. She must be an accident-prone person last week! I drive over to her apartment to see her tomorrow. Hopefully, she is healing before next week’s charity walk.

Notice how confusing and inconsistent this paragraph sounds. It is unclear when events are happening; even if we can figure out the relationships between events, the paragraph still sounds unpolished and is frustrating to read. Revising this paragraph for consistency in verb tense will make the writing more clear and polished. We might revise the paragraph to sound like this:

My sister sprained her ankle on Tuesday and went to the hospital. Then, on Thursday, she dropped a dish on her toe and hurt her toe too. She must have been an accident-prone person last week! I will drive over to her apartment to see her tomorrow. Hopefully, she heals before next week’s charity walk.

2.4: Capital Letters

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on March 23, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource discusses the rules for capital letters, and it covers other common errors writers sometimes make.

Capital Letters

Capital letters are an important signal to readers that you are beginning a new sentence or that the capitalized word is important. Therefore, capitalize words in the following cases:

Other Common Errors

Make sure to proofread your GED essays carefully to avoid these mistakes:

Left-out and doubled words: Sometimes, you can simply leave out a word you meant to include or write a word twice when writing a timed essay.

Pronouns: Each time you use a pronoun, it should clearly refer to a noun. In other words, if you use a pronoun like they, it should be clear from the rest of your sentence or previous sentences who “they” are. Also, the number and person of the pronoun should agree with the noun it replaces.

2.4: Strategies for Writing Essays

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on August 7, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource will help you develop strategies for writing your GED essays.

Strategies for You

Like all parts of the writing process, proofreading is a personal activity that people do differently. You will likely find that your proofreading process differs from others, and that is okay. As you practice your writing process while preparing for the GED, try out some of the proofreading strategies below.

Plan for Proofreading

A common mistake people make when writing a timed essay is not leaving enough time to proofread. While writing your GED essay, make sure to leave a few minutes to carefully read over your essay. This is not a step you should skip, since you should find and correct as many errors as you can before finishing your essay.

Slow Down

When you read through your essay, be careful to read slowly. You will catch far more errors than if you speed through it or even read at a normal pace. One strategy to help yourself read slower is to use your pencil to follow each word in the essay. Though you will not be able to read aloud in the testing environment, mouthing the words silently can also help you slow down your reading.

Personalizing Proofreading

As you practice writing and revising, you will probably find that you make some of the same errors repeatedly. This is actually good news, since you can get even better at finding your errors by getting familiar with the ones you tend to make. Keep a list of errors you commonly make and learn how to correct them.

Enlist Help

During the actual GED test, of course, you will not be able to get help from others. Before the test, though, consider having others look at your writing to help you identify the errors you commonly make. Other people, including teachers, friends, and family, may also be able to help you learn how to correct these errors.

For more information about proofing your essay, please visit these Purdue OWL resources:

 

2.5: Word Choice

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on March 23, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource covers choosing appropriate, precise words for your GED essay. It also discusses how to avoid repetition and how to construct transitions.

Word Choice

The fifth area readers will consider when evaluating your essay is word choice. It is important that the words you use be precise and that they express your ideas clearly. It is also important that the words you use are varied, so that you aren’t using the same words again and again. This resource provides tips for checking your word choice.

Choosing Appropriate Words

To make sure your language is appropriate for the GED essay, avoid the following pitfalls. First, most slang that you might use in everyday language is too casual for a formal essay. Similarly, casual language that you often use in everyday speech might create too casual a tone for an essay. Finally, clichés that we use in everyday conversation (green with envy, face the music, add insult to injury, etc.) can make your writing sound boring. Consider the paragraph and revision below.

Original Paragraph

When I started thinking about getting a new job, I was completely clueless. I knew I wanted to do something really cool, but I was lost about what might fit the bill.

Revised Paragraph


When I started thinking about getting a new job, I was overwhelmed by my options and unsure of what to choose. While I knew I wanted to do something interesting, I was uncertain of what that might be.

Choosing Precise Words

When thinking about whether the language you use conveys the meaning you want, put yourself in your reader’s position. Specifically, consider the following issues:

Connotations: A connotation is an association that readers might have with a specific word. An example is the different associations brought up by the words pride and arrogance. While the two words have similar meanings, pride is generally has positive associations while arrogance carries negative associations. Consider the connotations that certain words have when choosing your language and revising for word choice.

Similar sound, different meaning:
Be careful of words that sound similar but have different meanings. Some examples are alternate/alternative, intelligent/intelligible, moral/morale, portion/proportion.

General versus specific: In your writing, you will use both general and specific words. While your goal is to include both, you should try to avoid overusing words that are really general. An example is the word interesting. For example, if you describe an idea as interesting, your reader may wonder what, exactly, is interesting about it. Other examples of general words include good, thing, and some. Words like these are fine to use, but you need to add specific detail so that your writing does not become vague.

Avoiding Repetition

When proofreading your essay, look out for repetitive wording. Just as you should vary your sentence structure (see Lesson 4), you should also vary the words you use. As you write practice essays, you may even identify some words that you tend to use frequently. Just as you keep track of errors you often make, you can keep track of words that you overuse.

Identifying these words can help you avoid overusing them as you write. You can even keep a list of these words and look up possible alternatives to use in a thesaurus. Try to find a teacher to read your practice essays when you use new words, however. You want to be sure you’re using a new word correctly.

Transition Words

Transition words are clues to your reader that help them follow your ideas. You can use these words to link and transition between ideas, sentences, and paragraphs. For example, writers often use transition words when listing ideas, as in the following paragraph:

I prefer watching television shows instead of movies for a number of reasons. First, TV shows are shorter, so I don’t spend as much time watching them as I do when watching movies. Second, TV shows are drawn out over many episodes over many seasons, so I can get to know the characters better than the characters in a two-hour movie. Finally, I like watching television shows more than watching movies because they give me something to look forward to each week.

You can use transition words for a variety of purposes aside from listing. Transition words for different purposes are listed below. Try using these in your writing to help guide readers through your essay.

 

Quick Tips for Success: Language Arts, Writing Test

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on March 23, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource provides some brief tips for succeeding on the writing portion of the GED.

Quick Tips for Success: Language Arts, Writing Test

This section is intended to give you some quick tips to use while writing the GED essay. Review these tips while writing practice essays so that you can get used to them before taking the actual GED.

Relax. Many people find the essay portion of the GED stressful. You will write a much better essay if you relax. Take a few deep breaths and relax your muscles. Remind yourself that the essay you produce will be a rough draft. Try your best, but know that you are not expected to produce perfection in 45 minutes!

Plan. Don’t just dive into writing your essay. Instead, take a few minutes to plan. You should think about your main points, your support and development, and your organization.

The five-paragraph model. For a timed writing situation like the GED essay, the five-paragraph model provides a clear method of organization. A five-paragraph essay contains:

  1. an introductory paragraph that clearly states the essay’s main point
  2. three body paragraphs that develop and support the essay’s main point
  3. a concluding paragraph that wraps up the essay.

Start up and wrap up. Perhaps the most important parts of your essay are the first and last paragraphs. This is because the first paragraph is your reader’s first impression of your writing and the last paragraph is your reader’s last impression. Therefore, you should take some time to write both a strong introduction and a strong conclusion.

Focus your paragraphs. Make sure each of your body paragraphs has a clear main point. A good way to do this is to use the first sentence of each paragraph (the topic sentence) to state the paragraph’s main point.

Stick to the topic. It is important that you write about the assigned topic. Essays that focus on topics other than the assigned one will not be scored. While you’re writing, remind yourself of the topic at hand and check to make sure you’re not straying from it.

Use what you know. The essay topic will allow you to draw on your own observations, knowledge, and experience. Take advantage of this! When you write your essay, include personal observations, knowledge, and experiences that are relevant to the topic.

Keep an eye on the clock. As you are writing, keep an eye on how much time you have left. Be careful not spend so much time on one paragraph that you are unable to finish the essay. Some people even like to keep a specific time limit for each paragraph.

Write legibly. Your reader needs to be able to read your essay. Do not expect that you will have time to neatly re-write a final draft. Instead, print or write your essay as neatly as you can the first time around. Writing slowly and carefully will help. If you find an error or just want to change something, draw one line through the word(s) you wish to change and write the corrections neatly above.

Proofread. When writing timed essays, people often make grammar mistakes. You should save a few minutes at the end to read through your essay so that you can find and correct most of your errors.

Practice, practice, practice. Use the CWEST resources on the OWL and materials provided by your learning institute to write as many practice essays as possible.

 

Part 2, Lessons 1-5 Suggested Resources

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on March 23, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource provides links to other resources on the Purdue OWL that may help you with your preparation for the writing section of the GED.

Further Resources: Language Arts, Writing Test, Part 2

The Purdue Online Writing Lab contains many resources about the writing skills that are necessary for writing the GED Essay. You can look at these sources to get more information about these writing skills to prepare for the GED and to improve your writing generally. Follow the links below to go to these sources.

Prewriting/Planning Your Writing

Creating a Thesis Statement
Developing an Outline
Prewriting (Invention)
Understanding Writing Assignments

Organization

Introductions, Body Paragraphs, and Conclusions for Argument Papers
Paragraphs and Paragraphing
Transitions and Transitional Devices

Proofreading and Editing

Conciseness
Higher Order Concerns (HOCs) and Lower Order Concerns (LOCs)
Paramedic Method: A Lesson in Writing Concisely
Proofreading Your Writing
Sentence Clarity
Sentence Variety
Using Appropriate Language