GED: Writing Test — Part I, Multiple Choice

The GED Language Arts, Writing Test Part I, Multiple-Choice Section is 1 hour and 15 minutes long and contains 50 questions.

What to Expect

  • Expect a series of passages with each of the sentences numbered and each of the paragraphs lettered.

  • Expect some of the sentences to be correct, but many contain errors of organization, structure, usage, or mechanics.

  • Expect to find some obvious errors of spelling, punctuation, capitalization, or grammar.

  • Expect some errors to be more difficult to spot.

  • Expect to find errors that are common to student writing (common mistakes).

What You Should Know

The Language Arts, Writing Test (Multiple-Choice Section) contains the following areas:

  • Organization, 15%

    Understand the best place in the passage for a sentence.

    Understand where in the passage new paragraphs should begin.

    Be able to spot sentences that don't belong where they are or don't belong at all.

  • Sentence Structure, 30%

    Understand how sentences are formed.

    Understand the basic parts of a sentence.

    Be able to spot errors in the construction of a sentence (sentence fragments, run-on sentences, and so on).

  • Usage, 30%

    Understand how to use the parts of speech correctly.

    Understand how parts of a sentence fit together.

    Be able to spot errors in verb tense, agreement, pronoun reference, and so on.

  • Mechanics, 25%

    Understand the rules of punctuation.

    Understand the rules for contractions, possessives, and homonyms.

    Understand the rules of capitalization.

Kinds of Questions

The Language Arts, Writing Test, Part I will ask you to be able to apply the rules of grammar, usage, and mechanics, and to understand the organization of a piece of writing.

Look for three basic types of questions (item types):

  • Correction (45%): These questions ask you what type of correction should be made to a sentence.

  • Revision (35%): These questions ask you to select possible corrections for the underlined part of a sentence.

  • Construction Shift (20%): These questions ask you to select an answer that is a clear, correct rewrite of a sentence or sentences. They may also ask you to move sentences, separate paragraphs, combine paragraphs, or add a new sentence to improve the passage.

What You Should Do

First read through the passage before beginning to answer the multiple-choice questions. Note any obvious errors of spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, or organization.

Although there may not be a question on every sentence, you can be sure there will be questions about those sentences in which you have noticed errors.

Read through the following passage about saving money. Watch for errors. The sample questions that follow will be based on this passage.

Establishing a Savings Program

(1) In todays uncertain economic environment, it's more important than ever to have a savings program. (2) By accumulating a sum of money, financial security can be established, and you will have a broader range of choices for spending or investing. (3) Your more likely to save if you have a goal in mind. (4) Your goal might be to save for a vacation, taxes, or insurance. (5) You may want to accumulate enough for a down payment on a house. (6) Regardless of your goals, you must always be ready for unexpected financial pressures.

Correction Questions

About 45% the questions will ask Which correction should be made to sentence -? Questions will offer a choice of five answers. One of the answers may be no correction is necessary.

  • Sentence 1: In todays uncertain economic environment, it's more important than ever to have a savings program.

    Which correction should be made to sentence 1?

    1. change todays to today's

    2. remove the comma after environment

    3. change it's to its

    4. change savings to saving's

    5. no correction is necessary

    The right answer is (1). The apostrophe showing the possessive has been left out. Watch out for incorrect punctuation.

    Keep in mind that some of the sentences will be correct. If the no correction is necessary answer is given, don't be afraid to use it if you don't spot a clear error.

    The questions in this form will test your ability to recognize errors in mechanics. They will also test errors of grammar, especially those mistakes that can be corrected by changing only one word. Errors of agreement (for example, a singular subject with a plural verb: the boy . . . are) and errors of verb form (for example, a present tense verb used for a past: yesterday, I go to the store) are very common in this type of question. Correction questions also deal with organization and may ask about one sentence, several sentences, a paragraph, or the whole passage.

Revision Questions

The second kind of question will underline part of one or two sentences. You will be asked about the underlined part.

  • Sentence 2: By accumulating a sum of money, financial security can be established, and you will have a broader range of choices for spending or investing.

    Which of the following is the best way to write the underlined portion of this sentence? If the original is the best way, choose option (1).

    1. of money, financial security can be established

    2. of money, financial security will be established

    3. of money, you can establish financial security

    4. of money, an establishment of financial security

    5. of money, financial security can be secured

    The right answer is (3). The sentence begins with the phrase "By accumulating a sum of money." This phrase will dangle (will not have a word to refer to correctly) unless a person follows. Someone who can accumulate a sum of money must come right after the phrase. Only in answer (3) is there a person (you).

Construction Shift Questions

The third kind of question will ask you to revise one or two sentences in the paragraph.

  • Sentences 4 and 5: Your goal might be to save for a vacation, taxes, or insurance. You may want to accumulate enough for a down payment on a house.

    The most effective combination of sentences 4 and 5 would include which of the following groups of words?

    1. saving, either for a vacation or taxes

    2. vacation, taxes, or insurance savings or other bills

    3. to save for vacation, taxes, insurance, or a down payment

    4. to accumulate and to save for

    5. accumulation goal might be to save

    The right answer is (3). The revised sentence would read as follows: "Your goal might be to save for a vacation, taxes, insurance, or a down payment on a house." This sentence is direct and clear and doesn't repeat information.

    In options (4) and (5) both accumulate (or accumulation) and save are used, which is wordy because they mean close to the same thing.

    This section of the test is examining your skill in clear and effective written English. The most clear and effective writing is likely to be the most concise. Given a choice between two correct versions of the same sentence, choose the shorter one.