As a part of the GED Reasoning Through Language Arts test, there is a 45-minute extended response question. For this question, two articles are presented that discuss a topic and take opposing positions. You are required to write an essay arguing that one of the positions is better-supported than the other. Be sure to read our GED Essay Writing Guide for strategies on writing a great essay.
Below is a sample GED Essay Prompt. You should allot yourself 45 minutes to review the prompt, read the passages, outline your argument, write, and proofread your practice essay. It is beneficial to have a teacher or friend review your practice essay; you can also view a sample response on our website.
Analyze the arguments that are presented in each of these articles.
In your response, develop an argument in which you explain how one position is better-supported than the other. Incorporate relevant evidence from both articles to support your argument.
Remember, the better-argued position is not necessarily the position with which you agree. This essay should take 45 minutes to complete.
by Alexandra Alesi
Recycling is an important tool for protecting our global environment. The threat of major climate change looms on the horizon and continues to grow. We must take every action necessary to reduce the release of harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Recycling isn’t enough on its own, but its contributions are substantial. It reduces dangerous emissions in many significant ways: it conserves natural resources, it prevents pollution, it saves energy, and it preserves the environment for future generations.
At first glance, recycling seems fairly unremarkable. Its simplest definition is the repurpose of garbage to make new goods. However, we must think more globally about what goes into making new goods. In order to fashion a product, any product, there is a need to harvest natural resources, transport them to a factory, build the product, and then ship it out to retail facilities. This involved process of harvesting, transporting, building and shipping creates a tremendous environmental strain due to chemical gas emissions, liquid and solid waste run-off, and gasoline consumption.
Recycling eliminates many steps from the manufacturing process. There is no need to harvest new resources when one can simply repurpose those already harvested. This preserves natural resources, and prevents the destruction that results from extracting them from the environment. Why cut down a forest instead of recycling paper?
Patty Moore has been involved with recycling since 1983 and has her own recycling consultancy, Moore Recycling Associates, which helps businesses, governments, and communities handle waste management issues. She says that recycling can easily be accomplished on an individual level and scaled up to a larger manufacturing level. “Reduce your consumption,” Moore says. “I know that this sounds as if you have to give up something to help the environment, but it really doesn’t. Instead of hopping in the car to go somewhere for quality-time with the family, plan activities that you can do at home together.” It’s as simple as that.
Here are some amazing recycling statistics from the National Recycling Coalition:
- Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees.
- It takes 95% less energy to recycle aluminum than it does to make it from raw materials.
- The energy we save when we recycle one glass bottle is enough to light a light bulb for four hours.
- When one ton of steel is recycled, 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone are conserved.
- A national recycling rate of 30% reduces greenhouse gas emissions as much as removing nearly 25 million cars from the road.
As you can see from these statistics, recycling is vitally important for the environment. It is the morally sound thing to do to protect our beautiful planet for future generations. Please make sure you recycle!
The Recycling Racket
by Jenni Sadler
Recycling is often held up as a simple, common sense step the average person can take towards saving the world; this is a foolish presumption. Recycling’s benefits do not outweigh its costs, and it is ultimately just a way for people to feel better about themselves, a method which, in many ways, is self-defeating.
The primary problem is that it’s not cost effective. Paying to set up a network of trucks and processing centers to transport, receive, and repurpose trash is more expensive than creating and shipping new products. This is why many communities charge extra fees to residents in order to provide recycling pickup.
Recycling also produces carbon emissions through the transportation of recyclables and the recycling centers. Recycled plastics, glass, and metals must pass through a complicated, energy-intensive process in order to be turned into new products. Recycling itself uses three times more resources than does depositing waste in landfills.
Some people argue that recycling preserves resources, but this is misleading. Recycling more newspapers will not necessarily preserve trees, because many trees are grown specifically to be made into paper. And of course, recycled newspapers must be de-inked, often with chemicals, thus creating additional waste in the form of sludge. Glass is made from sand, the most abundant mineral in the crust of the earth.
Many recycling proponents claim there is a shortage of landfill space, but this is absurd. Studies have shown that holding all of America’s garbage for the next 100 years would only require a space that is 255 feet deep and 10 miles on each side.
The entire concept of recycling obscures the more important issues. Any benefits are meager, and distract from the real environmental issues facing this country and the world. The vast majority of waste and pollution in this country is industrial or agricultural in origin, and has little to do with what’s consumed or thrown away in residential households. The public must instead focus on the much bigger picture, tackling sources of carbon emissions and pollutants that far outweigh the amount of garbage produced by the average consumer.
After writing your essay, review our GED Essay Sample Response.
The Extended Response section of the GED can be very intimidating. But as momma used to say, “practice makes perfect.” The more familiar you become with the writing process, the better your chances of passing! Use our practice GED essay topics to help perfect your writing skills!
How to practice for the Extended Response section
- Set a timer for 45 minutes. This is how long you have to write your essay during the actual GED exam. It is best to practice under conditions that mimic the real test.
- Whenever possible, type your practice responses. During the GED, all your essays will be written on the computer.
- Always outline your answer first. Taking a few minutes at the beginning to structure your essay can save you valuable writing time later.
- Vary your response topics. The GED asks test-takers to write on a variety of subject matter. Prepare yourself by finding different prompts that stretch your writing abilities.
- Keep in mind that successful prompts generally contain 4-7 paragraphs with 3-7 sentences each. Whenever you practice, aim for essays that are in the 400-500 word range.
- Use specific evidence from the text when writing. Doing so creates a stronger essay by showing you read and understand the information presented.
For a more in-depth view of extended responses, check out the RLA Guide for Adult Educators. This is a complete overview of how to write a GED essay, as well as how the essay will be scored. Guidelines are given so that you can follow as closely as possible to a real testing situation.
Where to find practice GED Essay topics
When looking for GED essay topics online, keep in mind that not all sites reflect updated GED information. Many sites still list pre-2014 GED requirements for written responses. Writing topics that ask you to respond with a personal opinion are no longer featured on the current GED.
A quality GED essay topic always provides 2 articles written with opposing opinions. Your task is to read both articles, then determine which opinion is best supported throughout the text. Your personal opinion is never asked for or shared in your response.
GED Testing Services
Start here first! GED Testing Service is always a great place to find quality GED essay topics. This site has 5 different reading passages. Covering a range of topics, these passages provide conflicting arguments on issues such as cell phone usage, game-based learning, parenting, internet use and hosting the Olympics. Like many essay prompts, analyze the passages, then develop an essay based on which position is best supported by the text.
GED Practice Questions
In this prompt, two articles highlight differing perspectives on police militarization. In addition to regular essay instructions, a sample response is provided for review. The sample essay is a good example of what GED essays should look like. Compare your essay with the sample to see which areas need improvement.
GED Test for Dummies
Taken directly from their book, Dummies authors present arguments for and against making cyberbullying a criminal defense. After reading both arguments, write your essay explaining which opinion is best supported. Always use specific evidence found in the text to validate your essay.
For tips on how to determine which argument is stronger, Dummies also provides step-by-step guided instruction in essay writing.
How to Pass the GED
The topics here vary from Miranda Rights to Santa Claus. For each GED essay topic, two opposing opinions are shared. You write on the one that is better represented. In addition to the prompts, the site explains the process that goes into writing a 5-paragraph GED essay for the Extended Response section.
Another bonus: essays for BOTH sides of the argument are provided. Each essay is outlined and thoroughly explained according to the site’s guidelines. For a comprehensive view of how to compose an essay, this is a great site to visit.
ACE Leon Evidence-Based Writing Prompts
Although these prompts are not framed in the true GED extended response format, they still offer a great way to practice. There are over 7 different writing topics to choose from. Because this is evidence-based writing, structures are in place to help guide your responses.
Create your own GED essay topics
If you get to a point where you can’t find any more practice writing prompts, consider making up your own. GED essay topics generally reflect current events. Find an article that expresses an opinion on any topic, and write an essay analyzing that information.
Practicing the components of quality essay writing is helpful no matter what topic you focus on. Just make sure you cite evidence from the article in your essay!
We have lots more GED information waiting for you! Check out any of our great Magoosh blogs for loads of GED tips, guides and resources.
About Beth Gonzales
Beth is an educator and freelance creative designer who devises innovative and fun-loving solutions for clients. She works with families, students, teachers and small businesses to create and implement programs, campaigns and experiences that help support and maximize efforts to grow communities who critically think, engage and continue to learn.
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