GED® candidates write an original essay on an assigned topic. Part II of the Language Arts, Writing Test directly measures a dimension of writing skills not tested by the multiple-choice questions.
1. ESSAY TOPICS
The essay topics present issues or situations of general interest about which adults would be expected to have some knowledge. The topics are brief and written at an appropriate reading level. In general, the topics direct GED® candidates to state their views and to support them with examples from their own lives or the lives of others. Topics that require a specific format, such as the argumentative or comparison/contrast essay, are avoided so that GED®candidates with less formal training in writing are not penalized.
2. ESSAY TOPIC PROVISION AND USE
The essay topics are provided in two ways, either in the test booklet or in a topic packet, depending on the number of test batteries ordered. Official GED®testing centers that order six (6) or fewer test batteries, special editions, or other language tests will receive topic packets.
- To ensure the security of the topics and to ensure that the Writing Test is properly administered, examiners must comply with the following procedures:
- If the testing center uses topic cards, take only the assigned topics and one alternative topic to the testing room. Place the topic cards in the Language Arts, Writing Test booklets. If the essay topic appears in the test booklet, take one additional booklet.
- Parts I and II of the Language Arts, Writing Test should never be administered separately. Each candidate must have his or her own test booklet and essay topic card (if applicable) for the entire two hours.
- Do not read the essay topic aloud except to people taking the audiocassette version of the GED® tests.
- In addition to this specific information about the topic, the directions printed in the Language Arts, Writing Test booklet provide further guidance to GED® candidates. The directions advise candidates to be specific and to support their views. Length is not a criterion of effective writing and is not a standard for scoring the essay.
- All GED® candidates must write their essays on the answer sheets and may not attach additional paper or use a second answer sheet if their essays exceed the space provided. Only the writing on the two lined pages in the answer sheet booklet will be read and scored.
- The Language Arts, Writing Test is a two-hour test: The first 75 minutes are allotted for the multiple-choice section (Part I) and the remaining 45 minutes are for the essay section (Part II).
- If the GED® candidate finishes the multiple-choice section in less than 75 minutes, he or she may begin the essay section immediately. After completing the essay section of Language Arts, Writing Test, the candidate may review and make corrections to Parts I and II if time remains.
3. EXEMPTIONS FROM AN ASSIGNED ESSAY TOPIC
In rare cases, a GED Chief Examiner™ or GED Examiner™ may find a GED® candidate who is unable to write about an assigned essay topic because the topic is inappropriate due to a candidate’s disability, religion, or incarceration. For example, an Amish candidate may be asked to write about a modern technological device. Many Amish sects prohibit members from using advanced technology, so the candidate’s knowledge of the subject may be so limited as to diminish the opportunity to demonstrate his or her writing skills.
Under no conditions may the GED Chief Examiner™ or GED Examiner™ alter a given topic or create a new one for a candidate’s use.
Where it is clear that the assigned essay topic is not appropriate for a GED® candidate, an alternate essay topic may be assigned. In such cases, the GED Chief Examiner™ or GED Examiner™ will do the following:
A. Assign an alternate topic in accordance with the following procedures:
- If the essay topic is printed at random in the test booklet, issue another Language Arts, Writing Test booklet of the same test form bearing the next sequential serial number. For example, the GED Chief Examiner™ or GED Examiner™ would exchange Test Form IA, serial 00001 for Test Form IA, serial 00002. If no other test booklets of the same form are available, a Language Arts, Writing Test booklet of a different test form may be used, provided it neither contains the same essay topic nor has been used by the candidate in previous testing.
- At testing centers where essay topic cards are in use, issue the next sequential essay topic appearing on the Topic Rotation List. For example, the GED Chief Examiner™ or GED Examiner™ would take back Topic D and, having consulted the list, issue Topic B.
B. Complete the Exemption from Assigned Topic form (Form L-60). The GED Chief Examiner™ or GED Examiner™ keeps the original copy of this form and sends a copy to both the GED Administrator™ and the GED Testing Service.
Because of the potential for abuse of this policy, the GED Chief Examiner™ or GED Examiner™ must keep a file of all exemptions granted at his or her official GED® testing center. The GED Administrator™ will also monitor patterns and numbers of objections to topics raised by GED® candidates.
At GED Testing Service, the operations director will also monitor objections.
4. ESSAY SCORE
Neither the individual essay score nor the multiple-choice score may be separately provided to any candidate. The score from the Language Arts, Writing Test is a combination of the two parts.
5. GUIDELINES FOR TEST CENTERS, ESSAY SCORING SITES, AND JURISDICTIONAL ADMINISTRATORS FOR HANDLING GED® ESSAYS OF A SENSITIVE NATURE
In general, every effort must be made to keep GED Testing Service essays and essay topics secure. However, situations occasionally arise when a candidate’s essay contains content that threatens suicide or violence, discusses criminal activity, or otherwise addresses issues of a sensitive nature that give the reader a legitimate basis for concern. In these cases, examiners, test center personnel, GED Testing Service trained essay readers, and jurisdictional administrators will need to decide whether any actions are warranted given the content of the essay. When deemed appropriate, oral and written notification should be given to state legal authorities and to relevant GED® personnel. Such notification should be made promptly upon discovering the sensitive nature of the essay.
CONCERNS REGARDING SENSITIVE ESSAYS SHOULD BE SHARED ONLY WITH THOSE INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE A LEGITIMATE NEED TO RECEIVE SUCH INFORMATION.
NOTE: Notifications to GED Testing Service should be directed to GEDTS Technology Operations at GEDTSTechnologyOperations@gedtestingservice.com.
a. GED® Testing Centers
If a testing administrator or proctor believes that a candidate’s essay response suggests an intention to commit suicide, to cause harm to the candidate or others, or to damage property or commit other crimes (including acts or threats of terrorism), or that the writer has been the victim of abuse or an assault by another:
- The testing officer should immediately notify the jurisdictional administrator, orally and in writing, and copy GED Testing Service with the notification.
- If possible, the testing officer should contact someone who knows the candidate better, such as a teacher or guidance counselor, to determine if there is reason to believe that the claims or threats are real.
Most states have laws that require that certain individuals (such as school officials) report cases of neglect or abuse involving minors. While these statutes may not be applicable to individuals who review GED® essays, GED Testing Service believes that such cases should still be reported to a principal, guidance counselor, or the state agency assigned to protect minors.
If state authorities (police, other law enforcement officers, state’s attorney, or an officer of the court) request the original essay, the testing officer should comply with the request as long as it is contained in a valid subpoena or other appropriate legal document. Copies of the subpoena or written request must be sent immediately to the jurisdictional administrator and GED Testing Service. The testing officers must advise the jurisdictional administrator and GED Testing Service of any actions or outcomes that result from the reporting of sensitive essays.
b. GED® Essay Scoring Sites
If an essay reader notices that a candidate’s essay response suggests an intention to commit suicide, to cause harm to the candidate or others or to damage property or commit other crimes (including acts or threats of terrorism), or that the candidate has been the victim of abuse or an assault by another:
- The reader should ask another reader to read the essay to see if that person shares the concern about the content.
- The reader should share the essay with the chief reader and scoring site director.
- The scoring site director must immediately notify the jurisdictional administrator and GED Testing Service both, orally and in writing.
- If state authorities (police, other law enforcement officers, state’s attorney, or an officer of the court) request the original essay, the GED Chief Examiner™ should comply with the request as long as it is contained in a valid subpoena or other appropriate legal document. Copies of the subpoena or written request must be sent immediately to the jurisdictional administrator and GED Testing Service.
- The scoring site director must advise the jurisdictional administrator and GED Testing Service of any actions or outcomes that result from the reporting of sensitive essays.
c. GED Jurisdictional Administrators™
If a jurisdictional administrator receives a sensitive essay from a GED® testing center or GED® essay scoring site, the administrator should:
- Contact the jurisdiction’s internal legal department for advice, including advice on complying with any applicable state or provincial laws.
- Act upon the advice of the jurisdiction’s legal department and if appropriate, contact the state’s/province’s agency that protects minors (if the candidate is under age 18).
- Comply with any subpoena or other appropriate legal document if state authorities (police, other law enforcement officers, state’s attorney, or an officer of the court) request the original essay. Copies of the subpoena or other written request must be sent immediately to GED Testing Service.
- Notify GED Testing Service, orally and in writing, of all actions or outcomes that result from the reporting of sensitive essays and provide a copy of the original essay.