Good writing displays a host of skills, including a grasp of basic grammar and sentence structure and the ability to clearly argue a point. The General Educational Development test, which serves as a substitute for a high school diploma, requires test takers to write one 45-minute essay to pass the test. You'll need a minimum score of 410 on this section to pass. The GED essay can be intimidating because you can't buy practice books or take practice tests, but by honing your writing skills, you can greatly improve your score on this test section.
To properly prepare for the GED essay, you'll need to be comfortable with the testing environment. Give yourself 45 minutes in a quiet, distraction-free room and remove items such as food, drinks or computers from your desk. The essay is normally hand-written, and you'll be given two pages plus one scratch paper. Outline your essay on a piece of scratch paper, and focus on writing your essay clearly and legibly in 45 minutes or less.
Good essays are clearly organized, with topics that flow logically and a simple, succinct thesis. Practice outlining essay topics prior to the test so that you can get used to creating a good essay structure. Taking five or 10 minutes to outline your essay on test day can reduce the time you spend correcting your work and help ensure that you cover topics thoughtfully, quickly and logically.
If it's been awhile since you've taken an English or grammar class, take some time to bone up on basic grammar. Write a practice essay or two, then consult with a writing coach or tutor. If you consistently make the same grammatical errors, try playing online grammar games or reading up on basic rules of grammar. No matter how interesting your essay is, you won't get a high score if it's riddled with grammatical errors.
People who read are generally better writers because they're familiar with the written word. Try reading sample GED essays that received high scores, and take some time to read for pleasure. Exposure to high-quality writing can help you detect and produce the elements of good writing when it's time to write your essay.
Understanding the way the GED essay is scored can help you ensure you meet all the relevant criteria. Reviewers will look at several elements of style in your paper. They'll examine whether you remained on topic and responded to the paper prompt, whether the paper is clearly organized, whether the paper conveys clear and specific ideas and whether the word choice is clear and varied. You'll also be scored according to basic rules of grammar and sentence structure.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.