Tips for Handling Different GED Exam Formats

About this article
The GED exam is made up of of four sections. The format of each section's test can be very different. Still, multiple choice answers and essay questions are formats you will undoubtedly encounter. This article presents ways of dealing with these test formats.
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Test Question Cues

Certain words, phrases or items on test questions should provoke an immediate response in your mind. The Independent Learning Centre (ILC),, calls these words, phrases or items 'test question cues.' When you see such a cue, this should point you toward the solution. Common test question cues are as follows: First, look our for qualifying words such as 'generally,' 'often,' 'some' and 'most.' These words are the ones MORE likely to be correct. Next, look out for absolute words such as 'always,' 'never,' 'all' and 'nobody.' These words are the ones LESS likely to be correct. Then, be aware of inter-item cues, one question providing information (or an answer) for another and look for word associations and synonyms. Last, eliminate unlikely answer choices.

Multiple Choice

Some questions will be given in multiple choice format. For starters, ILC recommends, don't bounce around the test; answer all questions in order. If you come to a question you don't know skip it and go on to the next one. Just make sure mark it in some way as a reminder to go back to it. Don't assume anything. Read the whole question and every item in the multiple choice list. After you've gone through the whole test one time, go back to the questions you had difficulty with. Chances are, you can cross out one or more items in the list as being 'obviously wrong.' Then, if you still can't find the answer, make an educated guess. Last, don't second-guess yourself. Change an answer only if you are very confident of the change.


In some sections of the GED, you may be asked to reply with a short answer or extended response. ILC has the following suggestions when taking an essay portion of the exam: First, read the topic very carefully and start brainstorming ideas. A good way not to limit your ideas in your head is by writing them down on your erasable tablet, which you can also use to take notes as you read the text before starting your essay. Next, be aware that a lot of your grade depends upon following directions. So, respond in the manner requested. For example, identify key words that indicate what should be included in the response: compare and contrast, analyze, discuss or explain. Then, play around with the possibilities you have written down by making outlines or relationship clusters.

Next, when beginning to write your response, have the following format for writing in your mind:

1) Opening statement

2) Paragraphs

3) Summary

Your opening statement rephrases the topic. After your opening statement write the body of your essay organized in paragraphs. These paragraphs should include main points of your argument with between two to four details, examples or supporting statements. Finally, you have your summary or conclusion.

The final few items you need to be aware of after you have written your essay, but before finishing your essay involve 'housekeeping.' Check your essay for the following: neatness, spelling, punctuation, grammar, indented lines for new paragraph or ideas, left sufficient margins and erased or crossed out carefully. After the corrections have been made reread the essay and make one more final check.

Drag and Drop, Fill in the Blank, Hot Spot

For these formats, it is best to remember to expand the screen size if possible so that you have all the possible information needed to select the best answer.

Here are more helpful tips for these different exam formats:

  • For fill in the blank answers, be sure to spell the word or words correctly; misspellings are counted as errors
  • Be sure to click on 'Select' to access the answer choices for the drop-down format
  • Remember to use the page number tabs when searching a passage for an answer, such as in the drag and drop format
  • Use the scroll bar to scroll all the way down on any question to get all the information you need

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