You must use a pen for the essay portion of the GED exam.

The writing section of the GED Language Arts test is the only part of the exam that requires you to provide a written answer in the answer booklet. During this portion of the exam, you have 45 minutes to write an essay about the provided topic in a way that is focused and organized.

Know What to Expect

The topic provided in the writing section of the GED test generally is about your own opinions or experiences, so there are no wrong answers. You’ll have two lined pages in the booklet to write your answer and scratch paper so you can organize your thoughts. The GED Testing Service site shares that two trained individuals read and score the essays based on the clarity of the main points, organization and idea development. The readers will also score your grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice and sentence structure. Handwriting matters during this portion of the GED test because you’re more likely to receive a passing score if your essay is legible.

Practice Writing

The best way to pass the GED essay is to practice writing using a five-paragraph format: an introduction, three body paragraphs and a conclusion. Use the introduction to establish the topic and your main point. The purpose of each body paragraph is to support your main idea with your personal experiences, observations or knowledge. In the conclusion, summarize what you wrote and reiterate your main argument. On the Purdue OWL Engagement website, Jaclyn M. Wells recommends creating an outline to organize your ideas before you begin writing an essay. An outline allows you to gather and order your ideas so you can write an essay that’s organized well.

Know Your Weaknesses

No one is a perfect writer, and knowing your own weaknesses can help you improve. As the GED readers grade your paper, you will get marked down for spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors, poor sentence structure and the incorrect use of words. As you write your practice essays, have someone who writes well revise and edit them for you. Make a note of your most common word-use, grammar and spelling mistakes. For example, you may learn that you use the incorrect form of “there” and “their” or that you tend to spell “a lot” wrong. Review a list of words that people tend to confuse and make sure that you know the right ways to use each.

Manage Your Time Well

You have less than an hour to write your GED essay, so it’s important to manage your time well. In the article “GED Essay Topics,” the University of New Mexico suggests spending the first few minutes of the exam reading the directions and analyzing the topic. Then spend about five minutes writing down ideas, brainstorming and gathering your thoughts before creating a quick outline of your essay. Use the next 20 minutes to write your essay. After you revise your work, edit it so you can correct any mistakes.