The following is an example of a high-scoring essay response to our free practice GED Essay Prompt. Below our GED sample essay is a brief analysis justifying its perfect score.
The issue of how the police should interact with communities is a very hot-button topic. Some believe that criticizing the actions of the police hurts their ability to do their job, while others argue that the police have overstepped their authority and often cause more harm than good. Both arguments presented address this issue head on; however, it is the argument against the militarization of the police published by the ACLU that is the best supported and ultimately the most convincing argument.
While the second argument lacks specific statistics, or numerical data, the ACLU’s argument informs the reader that there were 80,000 military raids by police last year. Such an extraordinary figure surprises the reader and supports the idea that perhaps military-style raids have become too commonplace in society. The essay successfully uses statistics again when it cites a recent report stating, “of all the incidents studied where the number and race of the people impacted were known, 39 percent were Black, 11 percent were Latino, 20 were white.” This supports the idea that the militarization of police has had a disproportionately negative impact on African-American communities — further adding to the thesis that overall, the militarization of the police is detrimental to society.
Another reason why the ACLU’s argument is better supported than Mr. Hagner’s argument is because it addresses the idea of possible ethical corruption — an idea that Hagner’s essay ignores. The ACLU states, “Companies like Lockheed Martin and Blackhawk Industries are making record profits by selling their equipment to local police departments that have received Department of Homeland Security grants.” Here the ACLU implies that the reason for the militarization is simply profit; if this is true, then there is perhaps no actual real-world need for the militarization of the police at all. Ethically, companies are simply looking to make money from the police, rather than helping them to do their job.
Finally, the ACLU’s argument is much more convincing than Mr. Hagner’s argument because it uses much more impactful diction. The forcefulness of the language here, for example, when the ACLU calls the drug war “wasteful and failed” highlights the high-stakes nature of this issue. It appeals to the emotions of the reader, who is most likely a tax-payer and someone who has a vested interest in not having their money wasted by the government. The tone of this essay is much more impassioned than the tone of the second, and it helps to draw the reader in and engage them on an emotional level. The author implies that the reader may not be safe, since “heavily armed SWAT teams are raiding people’s homes in the middle of the night.”
In summary, the ACLU’s argument is better supported by statistics and data, accusations of ethical corruption, and forceful language that engages the reader. Mr. Hagner’s argument has some merit, and it does a good job organizing points with a numbered list, but ultimately it is too dry in tone and does not include any data or quotes from authority figures to back up its claims. The ACLU’s argument winds up being more convincing: the militarization of police is something we should all be concerned about.
Sample Essay Analysis
This essay is very well-organized. It uses 5 paragraphs and lays out the structure in the following manner:
- Paragraph 1 — Introduction (why the ACLU position is better-supported)
- Paragraph 2 — Reason #1 — Statistics (two examples given from passage)
- Paragraph 3 — Reason #2 — Ethics (one example given from passage)
- Paragraph 4 — Reason #3 — Vocabulary (two examples given from passage)
- Paragraph 5 — Conclusion
In the introduction, the author thoughtfully introduces the topic of police militarization and explains why it is relevant to today’s society. Both arguments are introduced, and the thesis is clearly placed at the bottom of the paragraph so it is easy for the reader to find. The thesis clearly states which argument the author believes is better supported; the language is confident.
Each of the next three body paragraphs is well organized. Each paragraph starts with a transition word or phrase and includes one example that supports the thesis. The body paragraphs cite specific examples from the passage, and then explain how those examples support the important point. The author uses three difference examples: statistics, ethics, and vocabulary, to prove why the ACLU’s argument is better supported. These examples are different from one another and show that the author understands what makes an argument weak or strong.
Finally, the concluding paragraph makes a minor concession to the opposing side, praising the numbered list that appears therein, before reiterating and restating the thesis from the Introduction.
The essay avoids any grammar or spelling errors and the sentence structure is clear and varied with the appropriate usage of commas and other punctuation. Clear command of the English language is demonstrated. As a result, this essay would earn a perfect score.
GED Practice Questions >>
Most of the GED Reasoning Through Language Arts (RLA) exam is multiple-choice, but there is also one “Extended Response” question. This question requires you to write a short essay in response to two passages of text. The passages will present two different viewpoints on a topic. You must read both of the passages and then decide which argument is best supported. Your essay should include evidence from the passages that shows that one of the authors better argues the issue.
Please note that you are not to write about which opinion is correct or which opinion you believe to be true. You are only asked to analyze each passage and support an argument of which passage best supports its claims. You will have 45 minutes total to read the prompt and the viewpoints given, and to draft your essay.
Essay Quick Tips
- Use paragraphs beginning with topic sentences to separate major ideas and to better organize your argument.
- Utilize logical transition words to seamlessly move from one paragraph to the next.
- Use correct spelling and proper grammar.
- Vary your sentence structure and incorporate appropriate, advanced vocabulary words.
- Stay on topic! Produce an outline prior to beginning your essay to organize your thoughts.
Your GED essay will be evaluated across three areas:
- Analysis of Arguments and Use of Evidence.
- Development of Ideas and Organizational Structure.
- Clarity and Command of Standard English Conventions.
The task may seem intimidating, but you more than likely already have these skills! Your essay will receive three scores — one for each of the listed areas.
Since you have 45 minutes, you must make sure to effectively utilize your time; this is best accomplished by practicing essays under the same 45 minute time limit.
Rely upon these timing guidelines as you write your GED essay:
- PLAN — Spend 10 minutes reading the source material and organizing your essay response.
- PRODUCE — Spend 30 minutes writing your (ideally) 5-paragraph essay.
- PROOFREAD — Save 5 minutes for re-reading what you wrote and making necessary changes and improvements.
Remember, since you are typing your essay on the computer screen, proofreading and editing can be done much more quickly than if you were reading over a handwritten essay! Five minutes may not seem like much, but you should be able to read the entire essay over at least once and correct any obvious spelling or grammatical mistakes.
Pro-tip: Don’t start writing until you have every paragraph planned out! Outlining your argument is the best method for producing a coherent and cogent response.
Since the GED RLA extended response is graded by the ACS (Automated Scoring Engine), it is relatively easy to score well if you rely upon a good template from which to organize your essay. Here are a few quick tips regarding clarity to help you score as highly as possible on the GED RLA Extended Response:
Paragraph 1 — Introduction
Start with a 1-sentence general statement regarding the topic. Show that you understand the argument(s) by identifying the topic and its significance, and then presenting a bold and concise thesis statement; this can also be your major claim with regard to the arguments. Consider the following example thesis:
Though the first argument highlights important considerations regarding (the topic of) ________, ultimately the second argument is better supported and more convincing.
Paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 — Body Paragraphs
When you plan your essay, you should devise your thesis (choosing which side you found to be best-supported), and carefully lay out three major reasons why it is best-supported.
Use specific examples to support your point of view. Pull selections from the argument you are stating is best supported, and explain why they are good supporting examples, or why they make valid points of consideration.
Each body paragraph should only focus on one major idea, and the 1–2 selections from the passage that support that idea. Try to keep the paragraphs between 4–6 sentences so that they are succinct, direct, and clear. Avoid excessive wordiness; sometimes more is not better!
Paragraph 5 — Conclusion
In 2–3 sentences, wrap up your thoughts, reiterating the correctness of your thesis (why the argument you chose is better supported), and perhaps leave the reader with an idea of WHY they should give more consideration to the topic. You can also use the conclusion to offer a degree of concession to the other argument, perhaps admitting that there are one or two good qualities to the other argument, before reiterating that the argument you selected is ultimately better supported and more convincing.
Finally, don’t worry about choosing the “wrong” side. It doesn’t matter which side you choose, or which argument you choose to say is better-supported, just be sure that you can quote specific examples from the source texts to support your ideas!
Now, review our sample prompt and practice writing an essay!
GED Essay Prompt >>