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The GED® Reasoning Through Language Arts Test: What You Need to Know

The first thing you need to know about this test is that it’s not about what you know but what you can do. Other than understanding terms like “main idea” and “author’s point of view,” there is really no extensive vocabulary to memorize. The best preparation is to hone your reading skills and here are some ways to do that.

Read.

One of the best ways to prepare for the GED® RLA test is to read. Practicing your reading skills doesn’t require cracking open a 1,000-page novel. You can build your reading skills with short stories, well-written non-fiction articles, and textbook excerpts. As you read, practice your reading comprehension skills: make personal connections with the text, use context clues to figure out unfamiliar vocabulary, create a mental picture as you read, infer information hinted at by the author but maybe not stated outright, and try to identify the author’s main idea. The test assesses your ability to read and understand, but also to analyze and apply the information you read. You will need to be able to identify and create arguments based on the main idea and assess the grammar and language techniques used by the author. So as you read, analyze what you are reading and ask yourself what, why, and how questions, since they are the same kinds of questions you are likely to encounter on the test. What does this character’s response suggest about her personality? What can the reader infer about the narrator from this passage? How would you describe the main character?

Read carefully.

When you are preparing for and taking the test, be sure to slow down and read carefully. Nerves and the time pressure during the test can make you feel like you need to rush and only skim over the passages, but even though it’s a timed test, now is not the time to race through the readings. You are more likely to answer the questions about a passage correctly if you understand the passage itself, so take your time with it. Be sure to practice this method during your preparation, as well. Set a timer as you are taking the practice tests so that you can monitor your use of time more easily.

Apply good reading skills when reading the questions, too.

Read the questions carefully. Knowing what you are being asked to answer can guide you to the right information in the passage that contains the correct answer. Generally speaking, the answers to the questions can be found directly within the text, or they can be inferred from it. And check the answer options you have. One of them is correct. If you are stuck on a question, try to narrow down those options. One way to do this is by looking for “all-inclusive” words like always, never, no one, and everyone. These types of words are not usually in the correct answer because they are so restrictive.

Practice, practice, practice.

As with any test, the more you practice, the more comfortable and confident you are likely to feel. Access free practice tests online through Union Test Prep or the GED® website. Preview the types of questions you are likely to encounter and practice with the question types. (There are classic multiple-choice questions, but also drag-and-drop options, fill-in-the-blanks, and drop-down options.) Taking practice tests will also give you a sense of the area(s) in which you excel and the subjects in which you may need some more preparation before taking the test. Practice tests also offer you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with this type of testing instrument. If you don’t have a lot of practice taking online tests, or if you are not “technologically savvy,” just becoming more comfortable moving a cursor and clicking on answer options can help you build confidence ahead of the actual test. It’s one thing to not score well because you don’t know the material, but it’s another thing to not do well because your tech skills let you down.

Prepare and study, but try not to stress.

Preparation and review of materials are important factors in getting ready to take a big exam like this, but work to find a balance in your preparation. Rest, eat well, and allow your mind some downtime. It may actually help you score better than cramming and stressing the night before.

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