GED Language Arts Tips

On this page, we provide some very useful tips and tricks to successfully take the GED® Reasoning through Language Arts (RLA) subtest. But first, let’s take a closer look at what GED testing and the GED RLA subtest is all about.

The GED high school equivalency test includes four separate subtests that cover Language (Reasoning through Language Arts), Math (Mathematical Reasoning), Social Studies, and Science.

On each of the subtests (modules), you are required to attain a score of at least 145 points, the passing score, to earn your state’s high school equivalency diploma. Scores are measured on a 100-200 scale.

What’s on the GED RLA test?

The GED Reasoning through Language Arts subtest assesses your writing and reading skills. These skills are all about the communicative capabilities that you’ll need all through your life.

You have 150 minutes (2.5 hours) to complete the GED RLA subtest that includes about 46 questions. You will have to:

  • Answer questions that relate to given passages to assess your reading, writing, and analytical thinking skills.
  • Review some written texts and choose phrases and words to make sentences and phrases written correctly (grammar and language skills).
  • Write an extended response (essay) to a prompt. You’ll be asked to read one or two passages on a contemporary issue or a passage that includes a graphic, and write an essay so your writing skills can be assessed.

The first part of the RLA subtest includes reading and correct language use questions and ends with writing your Extended Response (Essay) in about 45 minutes.

Then there will be a 10-minute break before the second RLA part starts which contains questions about reading and correct language use only.

As stated earlier, you will need to reach at least a 145 score to pass the GED Reasoning through Language Arts subtest, which is one of the four tests you need to pass in order to earn your state’s high school equivalency diploma.

GED RLA test topics

The GED RLA subtest is for some students pretty hard and measures to what extent you can understand what you’re reading and how clearly and effectively you can write. The test covers the three main topics of:

  1. Reading for Meaning
  2. Grammar & Language Use
  3. Identifying & Creating Arguments

The importance of language

To put it simply, language is about communication, about reading and writing. To be successful on the GED RLA test, you must be able to understand what you’re reading and to write effectively and clearly. See also: Consonance vs Alliteration

It’s all about communication. Are you able to read and understand emails from your manager? Are you able to write a correctly formulated letter when you’ll have to ask for a refund?

Can you read news articles well and can you understand the point of those stories? Are you capable of expressing your thoughts on certain topics? This sort of everyday skills forms the basis of the GED language arts subtest.

GED Language Arts test format

The GED Reasoning through Language Arts subtest has various question types such as multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, draggable, and extended response. Let’s take a closer look:

Multiple-choice: These questions usually have four option choices, generally labeled A through D. You will have to click on the best answer choice.

Fill-in-the-blank: This sort of question will ask you to type a number, word, or phrase in a box that shows up on your screen.

Draggable: On these questions, you’ll have to click on a word, phrase, or short phrase, and then drag it onto a certain location on your computer screen.

Extended response: Extended response questions require you to write/type in a text box on your screen in response to a given prompt, your writing assignment.

The prompt is based on one or two short passages, a graphic, or sometimes, a combination of those two. You are given 45 minutes to read everything carefully and to plan, compose, and revise your essay.

10 GED Language Arts Test Tips

1. Read the questions carefully

Before answering or looking at the answers, read each question carefully twice. It often happens that students read the questions too fast so they’ll fall into traps. Check here for more tips on how to improve your score on the GED Reading portion.

This also counts for your answers. Read them twice as well. Too often, a question is simply missed because students misread some terms.

And keep also in mind that you shouldn’t read too much into the RLA questions. They are usually pretty straightforward. So don’t over-read the language questions and usually, your common sense answer is the best answer. You may also benefit from, for example, Aztec’s GED Flash program. Not for preparation purposes, but to check your knowledge level.

2. Answer the easy questions first

You shouldn’t waste time on questions that you don’t know the answers to right away. When you’re stuck on a question, move ahead. It’s useless to waste your time on these questions.

Just skip the questions you can’t answer or that you’re not sure about and concentrate only first on those questions that you’ve got right immediately.

When you have completed the questions that were easy for you, go back to the questions that you skipped and try to answer them. Maybe the other questions provided a hint and the momentum may help to boost your confidence.

4. Use lots of practice tests

Practice makes perfect. Get familiar with reading prompts and writing essays by practicing a lot with sample tests. Think about what the prompt asks you to do. Find evidence in the text to support your argument or ideas.

There are prompts that ask you to cite specific evidence or provide a quote in your answer, while the prompt may also ask you to compare or analyze some passages.

Practicing with sample questions like the practice tests available at no cost on this website will definitely help to hone the skills required to be successful on the real RLA test.

4. Do not jump to conclusions

There are questions on the GED test that require some pretty careful analysis. At first glance, some wrong answers will appear to be correct at a first casual glance.

Very often, writers of the GED test will put a misleading answer first so you’ll be tempted to choose that answer. Please be careful not to fall into this sort of trap! It is important to first recognize the main idea in a complex piece of reading. Once you manage that, finding the correct answer will become easier.

Sometimes, you’ll find more than just one right answer. If that’s the case, make sure you will choose the best answer option based on what the question asks, not on your assumption.

5. Use more formal language

It happens often that test-takers slide into a sort of language use that they’re used to when speaking to or texting with their friends. When writing your essay, make sure to avoid the use of slang or abbreviations.

Your score on the essay part is based on how well you use English language conventions. It’s all about grammar, word choice, and sentence structure. Your essay writing must have a formal tone.

6. Answer all of the questions

On the GED exam, there are no penalties for guessing or wrong answers. So be sure to answer each and every question, even when you don’t know the answer or when you need to guess.

When you need to guess, you will probably be able to eliminate one or two answer options straight away, the obviously incorrect options. When you’re left with just two remaining options, your chances of picking the right answer look much better, right?

7. Eliminate obviously wrong answers

When you’ve read the question carefully and look at the answers, try to eliminate the answer options that you know are definitely wrong. This way you can concentrate on a smaller pool of answers to choose from.

If an answer obviously does not refer to what’s being asked, you know that answer cannot be correct. Make sure that the answer option you choose is matching the question’s context clues.

If an answer has absolutes such as never, must, or always, those options are generally incorrect so start with eliminating those answers as they usually are not correct.

8. Keep an eye on the clock

Although the time restraints on the GED Language Arts subtest should be enough to complete the test in a timely manner, you should keep going at the correct pace.

Check the time regularly and remember to “budget” your precious time. You shouldn’t dwell on those questions that you really don’t know the answer to. Just skip these questions and move on.

On the other hand, try not to rush the questions that you’re sure of you know, or that you think that you know. Read them twice carefully. That will allow you to come up with the best answer choice. It happens but too often that some careless mistake is what separates a top GED RLA score from a mediocre score.

9. Edit and proofread your extended response

Make sure you’ll save the last 10 minutes or so for proofreading your extended response! Check what you’ve written for organizational mistakes, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and perhaps unclear statements.

Reading what you’ve produced out loud (of course, in a quiet voice, more inside your mouth) may also be helpful for catching writing errors.

10. Trust your instinct

When answering questions on the GED Language Arts test, trust your first instinct. Once you picked the answer that you think is right, move ahead and don’t over-analyze the choice you made.

If you spend too much time on a question, stress can take over, and then, you often want to change something. When, in the end, you’ve got some time left for reviewing, change only those answers that have obvious mistakes.

When you’ve read the question carefully twice and you’ve picked an answer option, chances are your first choice is the best.


Last Updated on April 6, 2021.

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