Typical GED Essay Questions & Answers

by Lynn Brogan, EdD, PMP

    To pass the General Education Development, or GED, essay, you must write on a level comparable to 60 percent of graduating high school seniors, according to the GED testing service. You must express your opinion or explain something about a general interest topic in a series of related paragraphs. Test-takers have 45-minutes to plan, write and edit the essay. GED readers will score how well you address the topic, how you develop and support the main ideas in your essay, and your use of grammar and punctuation. Improve your essay answers by studying scored writing samples.

    The opinion prompt or topic asks you to take one side of an argument -- are you for this or against this -- and asks you to support your choice using examples from your life experience. The Purdue University Owl, an online writing lab, offers sample GED essay topics. Sample Opinion Topic 1: Is media censorship positive or negative? State your opinion on the topic. Provide reasons and examples to support your view. Sample Opinion Topic 2: Do you think it is a good idea that high school students serve one year in the military before they go to college or get a job? Sample Opinion Topic 3: Is it better to live in a small town or a big city? Use your personal observations, experience and knowledge to explain your choice.

    The explain prompt or topic asks you to dig into an idea, describe the idea and tell the reader what you know about the idea. The University of New Mexico offers an essay simulation with example topics. Sample Explanation Topic 1: In your essay, define success and describe what it means to be successful. Use detailed examples to explain your views. Use your personal observations, experience and knowledge. Sample Explanation Topic 2: In an essay, explain some common methods to combat stress. Sample Explanation Topic 3: What is your top goal? In your essay, write about why you chose this goal, how you plan to achieve it and how it will affect your life.

    GED Testing Service essay readers use five standards to evaluate your essay. 1. Response to prompt: How well did you respond to the topic, including whether or not you shift from one focus to another? 2. Organization: How clear are you about your main idea and do you show you had a plan for writing the essay? 3. Development and details: Did you expand on initial concepts or statements through the use of relevant examples and specific details rather than using lists or restating the same information? 4. Conventions of Edited American English: Did you use good writing mechanics such as control of sentence structure, punctuation, grammar, word choice and spelling? Did you edit your essay after you wrote the first draft? 5. Word choice: Did you select and use appropriate words to express an idea?

    The GED Online Learning Center at McGraw Hill publishers includes samples of scored GED essay questions. Study the candidate answers and the scorers' remarks so you can write a passing GED essay.
    The topic for the sample answers is: “What is one important goal you would like to achieve in the next few years? In your essay, identify that goal. Explain how you plan to achieve it. Use your personal observations, experience, and knowledge to support your essay.”
    Essay 1 is a sample of inadequate or 1. The writer said one thing about the topic, but did not add details and develop the idea. The writer used only one type of sentence structure. The essay has punctuation and spelling errors.
    Essay 2 scored a 2 or marginal. The writer began answering the prompt, then shifted to other topics. There are few details. The essay has spelling and punctuation errors.
    Essay 3 scored a 3 or adequate. The writer focused on one specific topic. The body of the essay included a series of paragraphs where the steps to achieve the topic were explained with some detail. The essay was edited and mostly free of mistakes.
    Essay 4 is an example of an effective or score of 4. The writer uses the classic five-paragraph essay format. The writer begins with a clear main idea and supports the main idea with three related concepts. The writer uses words that are precise and add to the essay.

    About the Author

    Lynn Brogan has her own writing business and is developing American literature curriculum for Gooru.com. Brogan has a doctorate in educational leadership from Teachers College at Columbia University and recently earned her PMP certification. She teaches Introduction to Project Management at Pierce College in Washington State.

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