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The Proper Paragraph Structure for the GED

by Van Thompson

The General Educational Development or GED test consists of seven different sections, including an essay section. You'll get 45 minutes to compose your essay, and will be graded on your ability to clearly and logically argue your point while using basic rules of grammar and sentence construction. If you've been out of school for a while, you might need a primer on basic paragraph construction, so take some time to do a few practice essays before the day of the test.

Essay-Writing Basics

You'll be graded on how clearly focused your essay is, so aim to have a clear point for each paragraph. If you take a minute or two to contemplate the writing prompt, you can come up with a response to argue quickly and reasonably, using real-world examples. You'll be graded partially on your ability to remain focused on the writing prompt, so stick to the topic you were given.

General Paragraph Structure

No matter which paragraph you're writing on your GED essay, you'll need to follow basic rules of grammar and mechanics. Your sentences should follow the structure of subject-verb-object as full sentences and not just fragments. Each paragraph should contain a clearly-developed idea and should relate both to your thesis statement and to the writing prompt.

Introductory Paragraph

Your introductory paragraph should introduce the topic at hand, making it clear that you understood the writing prompt. The last sentence or two should state your thesis. Your thesis is a clear, succinct statement of the argument you will make throughout the paper, as well as your primary supporting reason. For example, you might argue that "Voting is the single most important responsibility a citizen of a democracy has, because it is the only way she can directly affect government."

Middle Paragraphs

Your middle paragraphs should be dedicated to fleshing out the argument outlined in your thesis. Each paragraph can be devoted to a specific supporting point, with a sentence outlining the point at the beginning of the paragraph. For example, you might state, "While protests might get government officials' attention, they don't change who holds power." Then explain why protests are, in your opinion, less effective than voting.

Closing Paragraph

Your closing paragraph can pack a powerful punch. Use this paragraph to summarize your arguments, outline potential issues or future steps and call your readers to action. For example, you can briefly restate your primary arguments in favor of voting, then conclude with a statement that encourages registering to vote or voting in a particular upcoming election. You can mention the benefits of voting again and close with, "Failure to vote means failure to participate in democracy."

About the Author

Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.

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