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Getting it Write: 5 Tips to Help Students with Composition

With the GED® exam featuring both an extended response (i.e. an argumentative essay) and a short response, writing is an essential skill for GED students to have. However, many adult students struggle with how to approach writing and the process of breaking down the steps.

So how can you help adult students get comfortable with writing? Here are some tips to practice:


  1. Encourage your student to pre-write. Pre-writing is the first step in the student sorting out thoughts on the prompt. It helps the student figure out the important ideas to include in the writing, and how to start organizing them. Here are some great pre-writing techniques you can try, like idea mapping and lists.

  3. For shorter writing exercises, ask your student to first talk out loud about their thoughts and how they might answer the prompt. Sometimes it’s the act of writing that can intimidate or fluster a student, because then they are dealing with both the ideas they need to communicate and the mechanics of communicating them in print. Talking it out first may help sort out their thoughts, as well as give you a sense of where the student is trying to take their ideas when it’s time to put pencil to paper.

  5. When the student is writing out their essay, the best thing a tutor can do may seem counter-intuitive: walk away. You’ve already helped them pre-write, outline, and draft. Now they need to put their thoughts down on their own. Letting the student know you’ll be stepping away to give them time to write ensures there won’t be any hovering. Then when they are finished, you can not only talk over their response but also see if the student struggled to connect the outline and draft to the actual response without the tutor there. If so, you’re now aware of more areas the student may need help in.

  7. Use a rubric! Writing can sometimes seem hard to grade and critique because it’s more subjective than other subjects. That’s where a rubric steps in as a set of guidelines that give structure and uniformity to grading. Seeds of Literacy has its own writing rubric to show you and the students what qualities make a good piece of writing. Your own literacy program may have its own rubric, or you can use these online writing rubrics.

  9. Have a dictionary with you and encourage the student to look up words they are unsure how to spell or use. It will make their writing stronger and help with their reading skills. If your student has a smart phone, you can show them free online dictionaries and apps they can use at home.

Interested to help adults with their writing? Learn more about volunteering as a tutor with Seeds of Literacy!