As a part of the GED Reasoning Through Language Arts test, there is a 45-minute extended response question. For this question, two articles are presented that discuss a topic and take opposing positions. You are required to write an essay arguing that one of the positions is better-supported than the other. Be sure to read our GED Essay Writing Guide for strategies on writing a great essay.
Below is a sample GED Essay Prompt. You should allot yourself 45 minutes to review the prompt, read the passages, outline your argument, write, and proofread your practice essay. It is beneficial to have a teacher or friend review your practice essay; you can also view a sample response on our website.
Analyze the arguments that are presented in each of these articles.
In your response, develop an argument in which you explain how one position is better-supported than the other. Incorporate relevant evidence from both articles to support your argument.
Remember, the better-argued position is not necessarily the position with which you agree. This essay should take 45 minutes to complete.
by Alexandra Alesi
Recycling is an important tool for protecting our global environment. The threat of major climate change looms on the horizon and continues to grow. We must take every action necessary to reduce the release of harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Recycling isn’t enough on its own, but its contributions are substantial. It reduces dangerous emissions in many significant ways: it conserves natural resources, it prevents pollution, it saves energy, and it preserves the environment for future generations.
At first glance, recycling seems fairly unremarkable. Its simplest definition is the repurpose of garbage to make new goods. However, we must think more globally about what goes into making new goods. In order to fashion a product, any product, there is a need to harvest natural resources, transport them to a factory, build the product, and then ship it out to retail facilities. This involved process of harvesting, transporting, building and shipping creates a tremendous environmental strain due to chemical gas emissions, liquid and solid waste run-off, and gasoline consumption.
Recycling eliminates many steps from the manufacturing process. There is no need to harvest new resources when one can simply repurpose those already harvested. This preserves natural resources, and prevents the destruction that results from extracting them from the environment. Why cut down a forest instead of recycling paper?
Patty Moore has been involved with recycling since 1983 and has her own recycling consultancy, Moore Recycling Associates, which helps businesses, governments, and communities handle waste management issues. She says that recycling can easily be accomplished on an individual level and scaled up to a larger manufacturing level. “Reduce your consumption,” Moore says. “I know that this sounds as if you have to give up something to help the environment, but it really doesn’t. Instead of hopping in the car to go somewhere for quality-time with the family, plan activities that you can do at home together.” It’s as simple as that.
Here are some amazing recycling statistics from the National Recycling Coalition:
- Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees.
- It takes 95% less energy to recycle aluminum than it does to make it from raw materials.
- The energy we save when we recycle one glass bottle is enough to light a light bulb for four hours.
- When one ton of steel is recycled, 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone are conserved.
- A national recycling rate of 30% reduces greenhouse gas emissions as much as removing nearly 25 million cars from the road.
As you can see from these statistics, recycling is vitally important for the environment. It is the morally sound thing to do to protect our beautiful planet for future generations. Please make sure you recycle!
The Recycling Racket
by Jenni Sadler
Recycling is often held up as a simple, common sense step the average person can take towards saving the world; this is a foolish presumption. Recycling’s benefits do not outweigh its costs, and it is ultimately just a way for people to feel better about themselves, a method which, in many ways, is self-defeating.
The primary problem is that it’s not cost effective. Paying to set up a network of trucks and processing centers to transport, receive, and repurpose trash is more expensive than creating and shipping new products. This is why many communities charge extra fees to residents in order to provide recycling pickup.
Recycling also produces carbon emissions through the transportation of recyclables and the recycling centers. Recycled plastics, glass, and metals must pass through a complicated, energy-intensive process in order to be turned into new products. Recycling itself uses three times more resources than does depositing waste in landfills.
Some people argue that recycling preserves resources, but this is misleading. Recycling more newspapers will not necessarily preserve trees, because many trees are grown specifically to be made into paper. And of course, recycled newspapers must be de-inked, often with chemicals, thus creating additional waste in the form of sludge. Glass is made from sand, the most abundant mineral in the crust of the earth.
Many recycling proponents claim there is a shortage of landfill space, but this is absurd. Studies have shown that holding all of America’s garbage for the next 100 years would only require a space that is 255 feet deep and 10 miles on each side.
The entire concept of recycling obscures the more important issues. Any benefits are meager, and distract from the real environmental issues facing this country and the world. The vast majority of waste and pollution in this country is industrial or agricultural in origin, and has little to do with what’s consumed or thrown away in residential households. The public must instead focus on the much bigger picture, tackling sources of carbon emissions and pollutants that far outweigh the amount of garbage produced by the average consumer.
After writing your essay, review our GED Essay Sample Response.
The following is an example of a high-scoring essay response to our free practice GED Essay Prompt. Below our GED sample essay is a brief analysis justifying its perfect score.
The issue of how the police should interact with communities is a very hot-button topic. Some believe that criticizing the actions of the police hurts their ability to do their job, while others argue that the police have overstepped their authority and often cause more harm than good. Both arguments presented address this issue head on; however, it is the argument against the militarization of the police published by the ACLU that is the best supported and ultimately the most convincing argument.
While the second argument lacks specific statistics, or numerical data, the ACLU’s argument informs the reader that there were 80,000 military raids by police last year. Such an extraordinary figure surprises the reader and supports the idea that perhaps military-style raids have become too commonplace in society. The essay successfully uses statistics again when it cites a recent report stating, “of all the incidents studied where the number and race of the people impacted were known, 39 percent were Black, 11 percent were Latino, 20 were white.” This supports the idea that the militarization of police has had a disproportionately negative impact on African-American communities — further adding to the thesis that overall, the militarization of the police is detrimental to society.
Another reason why the ACLU’s argument is better supported than Mr. Hagner’s argument is because it addresses the idea of possible ethical corruption — an idea that Hagner’s essay ignores. The ACLU states, “Companies like Lockheed Martin and Blackhawk Industries are making record profits by selling their equipment to local police departments that have received Department of Homeland Security grants.” Here the ACLU implies that the reason for the militarization is simply profit; if this is true, then there is perhaps no actual real-world need for the militarization of the police at all. Ethically, companies are simply looking to make money from the police, rather than helping them to do their job.
Finally, the ACLU’s argument is much more convincing than Mr. Hagner’s argument because it uses much more impactful diction. The forcefulness of the language here, for example, when the ACLU calls the drug war “wasteful and failed” highlights the high-stakes nature of this issue. It appeals to the emotions of the reader, who is most likely a tax-payer and someone who has a vested interest in not having their money wasted by the government. The tone of this essay is much more impassioned than the tone of the second, and it helps to draw the reader in and engage them on an emotional level. The author implies that the reader may not be safe, since “heavily armed SWAT teams are raiding people’s homes in the middle of the night.”
In summary, the ACLU’s argument is better supported by statistics and data, accusations of ethical corruption, and forceful language that engages the reader. Mr. Hagner’s argument has some merit, and it does a good job organizing points with a numbered list, but ultimately it is too dry in tone and does not include any data or quotes from authority figures to back up its claims. The ACLU’s argument winds up being more convincing: the militarization of police is something we should all be concerned about.
Sample Essay Analysis
This essay is very well-organized. It uses 5 paragraphs and lays out the structure in the following manner:
- Paragraph 1 — Introduction (why the ACLU position is better-supported)
- Paragraph 2 — Reason #1 — Statistics (two examples given from passage)
- Paragraph 3 — Reason #2 — Ethics (one example given from passage)
- Paragraph 4 — Reason #3 — Vocabulary (two examples given from passage)
- Paragraph 5 — Conclusion
In the introduction, the author thoughtfully introduces the topic of police militarization and explains why it is relevant to today’s society. Both arguments are introduced, and the thesis is clearly placed at the bottom of the paragraph so it is easy for the reader to find. The thesis clearly states which argument the author believes is better supported; the language is confident.
Each of the next three body paragraphs is well organized. Each paragraph starts with a transition word or phrase and includes one example that supports the thesis. The body paragraphs cite specific examples from the passage, and then explain how those examples support the important point. The author uses three difference examples: statistics, ethics, and vocabulary, to prove why the ACLU’s argument is better supported. These examples are different from one another and show that the author understands what makes an argument weak or strong.
Finally, the concluding paragraph makes a minor concession to the opposing side, praising the numbered list that appears therein, before reiterating and restating the thesis from the Introduction.
The essay avoids any grammar or spelling errors and the sentence structure is clear and varied with the appropriate usage of commas and other punctuation. Clear command of the English language is demonstrated. As a result, this essay would earn a perfect score.
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