GED® RLA: How to Take the Test

The GED Reasoning through Language Arts test is primarily a test of reading comprehension. If you are a good reader, you will succeed even if you don’t know much about the exam. However, you can improve your score if you know a little about the test and how to approach it. These are our top tips for taking the GED RLA:

  • Do the easiest questions first! On the GED RLA, you can skip from question to question in each section. You do not have to answer questions in the order presented. So don’t linger on difficult questions, especially as you begin the test. Get some easy wins by answering a few easy questions. You can flag the more difficult questions and return to them later. 
  • Read the questions first. When the GED Language Arts test gives you a passage followed by a set of questions, it can be tempting to read the passage first. However, if you instead start by reading the questions, you will know what to look for in the passage. You can move forward and back on the GED RLA, so take a moment to skim all the questions related to the passage: it will improve your reading and save you time in the long run.
  • Pay attention to the order of the questions. When several questions relate to the same passage, the questions appear on the test in the same order in which they appear in the passage. In other words, the first question about a passage is usually from the beginning of the passage, the second question relates to the middle of the passage, and the last question relates to the end of the passage. Knowing this can help you skim the passage for the information you need.
  • Read all the answers. The GED RLA often has answers that are almost right, but not quite as right as one of the other answers. Don’t just pick the first answer that sounds right! Read all of them, and pick the one that is most right.
  • Eliminate the answers you know are wrong. There will usually be one or two obvious wrong answers, so put these to the side and focus on the possible right answers. This strategy is especially important on grammar questions, which may be a group of long sentences containing only small differences in words or punctuation. If you can knock out a couple of answers you know are wrong, it will be easier to isolate the differences between the remaining choices.
  • Be careful with absolutes. When a statement includes a word like all, always, none, or never, it must be true in every case. Any counterexample makes the statement false. Some of the answers on the GED RLA are incorrect not because they are never true, but because they are not always true. Words like some, most, and often are better, because they don’t have to be true every single time for the answer to be correct.
  • Rely on your ear! Many of the grammar questions are based on word choice (for example, the agreement of pronouns and antecedents), so the wrong answers may sound a little “off,” even if you can’t say exactly why. After eliminating any obviously wrong answers, read the remaining choices aloud to yourself (quietly if you are taking the exam in a testing center!) and trust your ear.
  • Plan for the essay. You can absolutely pass the GED RLA without attempting the essay. You should only do the essay if you have learned how to write a GED-style essay, if you are confident in your writing, and if you don’t think writing the essay will tire you out and decrease your performance on the rest of the test. Make this decision ahead of time.

GED® is a registered trademark of the American Council on Education (ACE) and administered exclusively by GED Testing Service LLC under license. This material is not endorsed or approved by ACE or GED Testing Service.