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About the ged writing exam10

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  1. – WRITING AN EFFECTIVE ESSAY – the same paragraph, revised to show variety in sentence structure: Wordiness and redundancy typically result from three causes: She is a teacher and lives on a ranch in Montana ➧ The use of unnecessary words or phrases with her cat and dog. Because she has family in California, she travels there frequently. Redundant: Turn left at the green-colored house. Notice how much more interesting this paragraph is Correct: Turn left at the green house. now. The seven sentences have been combined into two, ➧ Unnecessary repetition of nouns or and only one sentence starts with she. Many of the short pronouns sentences have been turned into modifiers that make for more varied sentence patterns. Redundant: Riva she couldn’t believe her Sentence structure and punctuation can also be used ears. to manipulate emphasis. The best place to put sentence Correct: Riva couldn’t believe her ears. elements that you want to emphasize is at the end (the ➧ The use of wordy phrases instead of “save the best for last” approach). What comes last is adverbs what lingers longest in the readers’ ears. Wordy: She spoke in a very convincing He is tall, dark, and handsome. [The emphasis is manner. on handsome. If tall is the most important char- Concise: She spoke very convincingly. acteristic, then that should come last.] Don’t skimp on details, but try not to waste words. She is smart, reliable, and experienced. [The emphasis is on experienced; if smart is the most important characteristic, then that should be last in the list.] Step 6: Proofread Carefully In the three-step writing process, the third step is to You can also use an em dash to set off part of a sen- revise and edit. What exactly is the difference between tence for emphasis: revising and editing, anyway? To revise means to carefully read over your essay and He is tall, dark, handsome—and married. make changes to improve it. Revising focuses on improv- ing the content (what you say) and style (how you say it). Here, the stress on the last element is heightened by In other words, when you revise, you concentrate on the the dash, which emphasizes the sense of disappointment “big picture”: your ideas and how you organize and pres- in the sentence. ent them in your essay. Editing, on the other hand, deals with grammar (correct sentences), mechanics (correct spelling, capitalization, and punctuation), and usage Don’t Repeat (correct use of words and idioms). Repeat Yourself Editing is very important; your writing should be as clear and correct as possible. But as a general rule, it On the sentence level, in general, less is more. doesn’t make much sense to carefully proofread each The fewer words you use to get your point sentence, only to realize that you need to rewrite several across, the better. Redundancy is the unneces- paragraphs. sary repetition of ideas. Wordiness is the use of However—and this is a big “however”—the guide- several words when a few can express the lines are a little different on a timed essay exam, espe- same idea more clearly and concisely. Avoid cially when the time is so short. Because your time is so both of these as you write your essay. limited, revising should actually take place before you write, while you are outlining your essay. As you outline, 85
  2. – WRITING AN EFFECTIVE ESSAY – make sure you have a clear thesis that addresses the writ- Good neighbors aren’t just friendly, they’re ing prompt, sufficient and relevant support, and logical also helpful. If we run out of sugar while baking organization. You probably won’t have time to rewrite or need one more egg for a recipe, we know we paragraphs or add new ones. That’s why it’s crucial to can run over to the Ulerios’ or our other neigh- outline so carefully. But you will probably have a few bors, the Zurowskis’. Mr. Zurowski is particu- minutes to change word order, adjust word choice, and larly helpful to my dad. My dad doesn’t have a correct grammatical and mechanical mistakes. And this lot of tools, but Mr. Zurowski does, and he’s final “polishing” step can help make your ideas come always willing to lend them to my dad. He also across much more clearly for your readers. helps my dad with projects once in a while, like fixing the roof on the dog house. There have also been plenty of times when we stayed with S ample Essay Mrs. Ulerio while our parents were out. Perhaps the most important aspect of being a You have seen the brainstorming and outline for the good neighbor is respecting boundaries. I think good neighbor prompt. Now, here is a complete essay. most of us could live with neighbors who are This essay would score a “4” on the GED exam. unfriendly or never offer a helping hand. But few of us will tolerate neighbors who don’t No matter where you live, you have neighbors. respect our property and our privacy. Our old The kind of neighbors you have can make a big neighbors, for example, used to come and take difference in how happy you are. I’m lucky to toys and lawn equipment from our shed with- have wonderful neighbors. The people who live out asking. Sometimes, we’d have to go to their next to me are friendly, they are helpful, and house and ask for our things back because they they respect boundaries. didn’t return them. Even worse, my Uncle Friendly neighbors help make it nice to live Andy’s neighbors were extremely nosy and gos- where you do. Grumpy, unpleasant neighbors sipy. They got involved in Uncle Andy’s divorce don’t usually do you any harm, but they don’t and made the experience more complicated and make you feel good, either. A friendly neighbor painful for everyone. makes you feel welcome. For example, our Good neighbors like mine are hard to find. I neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Ulerio and their chil- hope I will always have neighbors like the Ule- dren, are very friendly. Whenever we see them, rios and Zurowskis. They are kind, they know they say a cheerful hello and ask how we’re when to help, and they respect our property and doing. Mr. and Mrs. Ulerio often chat with my privacy. parents, and every Christmas, Mrs. Ulerio and her daughter Jessica bring us homemade cook- ies. They make us feel like they’re glad to have us next door. 86
  3. Tips and Strategies CHAPTER 11 for the GED Language Arts, Writing Exam YOU HAVE reviewed what you need to know for the Language Arts, Writing Exam. Now you will learn some specific tips and strate- gies to use on the writing exam. O ne of the myths about writing is that either you have writing talent, or you don’t. True, some people have a special gift for effective writing. But good writing is a skill, and like other skills, it is something that everyone can learn. Throughout this chapter, you will review the structure of the writing exam and specific tips you can use to improve your score on the test. Read this chapter carefully, and then review your notes from the whole Language Arts, Writing section. When you are ready, move on to the practice questions that follow. T he GED Language Arts, Writing Test in a Nutshell The GED Language Arts, Writing Test consists of two parts. Part I (75 minutes) will ask you 50 questions about sentence structure, usage, mechanics, and organization. These questions will be drawn from informational pas- sages, business documents such as memos, and how-to texts. You will be asked the best way to correct or revise sentences or paragraphs. Part II (45 minutes) will ask you to write an essay of about 250 words (four to five paragraphs). Your essay prompts may ask you to write a narrative essay (tell a story), a persuasive essay (argue a point of view), or expos- itory essay (explain or describe your response to a question). Essays are scored holistically, taking into account the overall effectiveness of the essay. 87
  4. – TIPS AND STRATEGIES FOR THE GED LANGUAGE ARTS, WRITING EXAM – S entence Structure 1. Memorize irregular and troublesome verb forms. 2. Remember that verbs should be consistent in tense. Sentence structure refers to the way we put words 3. Make sure that verbs agree with their subjects. together in sentences. Chapter 6 reviewed the building 4. Make sure the correct helping verbs are used to blocks of sentences: subjects, predicates, and objects; convey the intended meaning. independent and dependent clauses; sentence bound- 5. Use infinitives and gerunds correctly. aries; parts of speech; and parallel structure. Approximately one-third of the questions on the GED Indefinite Pronouns writing test will be about sentence structure. Here are To remember singular indefinite pronouns, note that some tips for tackling questions about sentence structure: someone, anyone, everyone, and no one all contain the word one. One, of course, is singular. Indefinite pronouns Look for words that signal relationships and ■ beginning with some, any, every and no are all singular. make connections: subordinating conjunctions, coordinating conjunctions, and conjunctive Agreement adverbs. These words help describe the relation- When it comes to agreement, think of sentences as a scale ship between ideas and determine sentence with subjects on one side and verbs on the other, or with boundaries and punctuation. antecedents on one side and pronouns on the other. The Look carefully at word order. Are modifiers close ■ subjects and verbs need to agree in order for the scale to to the things they modify? be balanced. Likewise, the pronouns need to agree with Look for grammatical patterns. Is there—or ■ their antecedents to balance the scale. should there be—parallel structure at work in the sentence? Pronouns Could sentences be combined effectively? ■ It’s so easy to make a mistake with pronouns and con- If you suspect a sentence fragment, isolate that ■ tractions because we show possession of nouns with an sentence and see if it makes sense on its own. If apostrophe (Ralph’s car). With pronouns, however, pos- not, it probably needs to be combined with session does not require an apostrophe. If you get con- another sentence or revised to be complete. fused, think of a possessive pronoun that doesn’t get If you suspect a run-on sentence, look at each ■ confused with contractions, like my or our. These do not clause. Is it independent? If so, is there strong have apostrophes; other possessive pronouns shouldn’t, enough punctuation or connecting words either. between the clauses? And here’s one way to remember to use that when referring to things: both words begin with the letter t. U sage Prepositional Idioms If prepositional idioms tend to give you problems, try Another third of the questions on Part I will be about writing sentences with the idioms to give yourself extra usage: the rules that govern the form of the words we use practice. Create a worksheet for yourself or someone else and how we put those words together in sentences. who may also need extra idiom review. Chapter 7 reviewed the usage rules you should know for the exam. Here are some specific tips for questions about usage. M echanics Verbs About one-fourth of the questions on Part I will be Because verbs are the driving force in every sentence, and about mechanics: the rules that govern punctuation, because verbs can take so many different forms, you can capitalization, and spelling. Chapter 8 reviewed punctu- be sure that many usage questions will be about verbs. ation guidelines, rules for correct capitalization, and Here are five tips to help you prepare for those questions: 88
  5. – TIPS AND STRATEGIES FOR THE GED LANGUAGE ARTS, WRITING EXAM – spelling for contractions and possessive pronouns as well For example: as homonyms. Here are some specific tips for handling questions about mechanics. stationary vs. stationery: Remember that “stationery” is the one to write on because it’s spelled with an “er” like the letter you are Punctuation Remember that punctuation marks are used to separate writing. sentences, show the relationships between ideas, reveal tone, and clarify meaning. Each punctuation mark has a (See page 22 for more about mnemonic devices.) specific function and should only be used in specific sit- For a list of over 700 pairs of homonyms, visit uations. Take the time to memorize the uses for each www.cooper.com/alan/homonym_list.html. You can also punctuation mark. Here are some tips to help you learn find homonym quizzes and worksheets at www.edhelper them: .com/language/Homonyms.htm. ■ Pay attention to how punctuation is used as you read. Now that you know the rules, the more you O rganization see them in action, the easier it will be to remem- ber them. ■ Write your own sentences with each punctuation Finally, a smaller portion of the questions on Part I will mark and each comma rule. Notice how punctua- be about organization: how writers arrange their ideas. tion can change the impact and meaning of Chapter 9 reviewed essay structure and organizational sentences. patterns, effective paragraphs, and transitions. When you ■ Teach the punctuation rules to someone else. encounter a GED question about organization, these guidelines can help you identify the correct answer. Capitalization When capitalization is the issue, ask yourself whether the 1. Identify the organizational pattern. How are the word in question is specific or general. If it is a specific ideas in the passage or paragraph organized? person, place, or thing, then it probably should be capi- Then consider: Does any sentence or paragraph talized. Remember, in this regard, specific means partic- seem to be out of place in the pattern? ular or individual, not detailed. For example, a poodle is 2. Identify the main idea of the paragraph or pas- a specific type of dog, but it is not capitalized because it sage. What thought holds the paragraph or doesn’t refer to a specific (individual or particular) dog. passage together? Is there a topic sentence Rover, however, should be capitalized because Rover is a expressing that thought? Then consider: Is there specific (particular, individual) dog. any sentence (or portion of a sentence) that doesn’t fit under the controlling idea? 3. Look for transitions in the paragraph or passage. Contractions Whenever you come across a question with a contrac- Are there strong transitions leading you from tion, read it as two words. If it doesn’t make sense, then one idea to the next? Would the paragraph or you need a possessive pronoun, not a contraction. Elim- passage be more effective if more (or more inate the apostrophe. appropriate) transitions were added? Homonyms P art II: The Essay Unfortunately, the only thing you can do to prepare for questions about homonyms is to memorize the correct meanings and spellings. Try using mnemonic devices to Chapter 10 described the steps you should take to write remember which word is which. well on an essay exam. You learned that when you must write under pressure, good planning and time manage- ment are the keys to success. 89
  6. – TIPS AND STRATEGIES FOR THE GED LANGUAGE ARTS, WRITING EXAM – At test time, remember this guideline for using your time b. You must use an appropriate level of formal- on the exam: ity. Avoid jargon (technical or specialized lan- guage) and slang. Don’t try to use big words 1 time (10–15 minutes): planning just to sound more intelligent. Often, the 4 more simple words are the most clear and 1 time (20–25 minutes): writing 2 effective. Besides, you may end up misusing 1 time (10–15 minutes): revising and editing vocabulary and saying things you don’t 4 mean. 6. Make sure you have a clear purpose. Know what Six Steps for you want to accomplish in your essay. What is Essay Exam Writing your goal? Before you begin to write, draft a the- sis statement. Remember that a thesis must say When you are writing for an exam, follow these something about the subject. six steps: 7. Remember that first impressions count. Get your reader’s attention and state your thesis clearly in Step 1: Understand the writing prompt. your introduction. Step 2: Formulate a clear thesis. 8. Remember that writing is a process, and effective Step 3: Brainstorm support for your thesis. planning is perhaps the most important part of Step 4: Create a detailed outline. that process. Plan your essay carefully. Use your Step 5: Write the essay. outline to organize your ideas and make sure you Step 6: Proofread carefully. have provided strong and sufficient support. If you don’t have at least two supporting ideas, you should rethink your essay. If you are making an The following 11 tips can help you write a successful argument, use order of importance (least-to- essay for the GED: most important) to organize your ideas. 9. Make sure to provide strong transitions through- 1. Make sure you understand the prompt. What out your essay. Use transitional words and kind of essay are you being asked to write? phrases to connect sentences and ideas. 2. Make sure you directly answer the prompt. 10. Remember that style is important. When you Remember, you will receive a score of 1 or 0 if revise: you do not write on the assigned topic. a. Try to make a few word choice changes so 3. Remember that you only have 45 minutes, so it’s that your writing has more impact. Use pre- important not to waste any time. If you are stuck cise, vivid verbs and nouns. and can’t seem to get started, try freewriting or b. Check for wordiness and redundancy. Don’t another brainstorming technique. This will help repeat yourself or use bulky constructions you get some ideas down on paper and get your such as in this day and age (today is more thoughts flowing. concise and appropriate). 4. Remember that in a brainstorm, there’s no such c. Be sure you have some variety in sentence thing as a stupid idea; write down anything that structure. If your essay has a sing-songy or comes to mind. When you’re ready to outline, monotonous rhythm, combine sentences and you can eliminate ideas that don’t fit. add introductory phrases so that your sen- 5. On the GED, it’s important to write for a general tence patterns are more diverse. audience. That means two things: 11. Even if you have only a few minutes left at the a. You must provide context for your readers. end of the exam, take the time to review what Don’t assume that your readers know what you you have written. If you make only one or two know. For example, if you are writing about minor corrections, you have still made an your favorite film, you must provide some improvement in your essay. essential information about that film for your readers, including the basic plot and characters. 90
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