GED Language Arts (RLA) : Identifying Supporting Details

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GED Language Arts (RLA)

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Identifying Supporting Details

Adapted from As You Like It by William Shakespeare (1623)


[This is a monologue by the character Jacques]


All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,

Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms;

Then the whining school-boy, with his satchel

And shining morning face, creeping like a snail

Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,

Sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,

Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,

Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,

In fair round belly with good capon lin'd,

With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws and modern instances;

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,

His youthful hose, well sav'd, a world too wide

For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,

Turning again toward childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion;

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.

What is the underlined section describing?

Possible Answers:

How an older man's voice often becomes high like that of a child once more

How weak-willed the elderly are, unwilling to change the world to which they have become so accustomed

How the old man will always love children, for he now knows how important was his childhood

How the old man becomes like a child, unable even to function on his own

How the old man becomes like a child, unwilling to voice his own opinion but instead accepting the trivial, piping sayings with which he is comfortable

Correct answer:

How an older man's voice often becomes high like that of a child once more


Sometimes an expression really is as literal as it seems, and this is the case here. The author is merely talking about the voice of the man. Now that he is old, the voice, which had at one time been manly and deep, has now become high like a child's voice. It is "treble," that is, like the treble clef in music—high in pitch. Hence, it begins to pipe and whistle. Certainly, this is not the case with everyone, but the author is trying give a general image of this late stage of life.

Example Question #13 : Evidence And Argument

Adapted from "Review of Wyandotté, or The Hutted Knoll" by Edgar Allan Poe (1843)

The most obvious and most unaccountable faults of The Hutted Knoll are those which appertain to the style—to the mere grammatical construction; for, in other and more important particulars of style, Mr. Cooper, of late days, has made a very manifest improvement. His sentences, however, are arranged with an awkwardness so remarkable as to be matter of absolute astonishment, when we consider the education of the author and his long and continual practice with the pen. In minute descriptions of localities, any verbal inaccuracy or confusion becomes a source of vexation and misunderstanding, detracting very much from the pleasure of perusal; and in these inaccuracies Wyandotté abounds. Although, for instance, we carefully read and reread that portion of the narrative that details the situation of the Knoll, and the construction of the buildings and walls about it, we were forced to proceed with the story without any exact or definite impressions upon the subject. Similar difficulties, from similar causes, occur passim throughout the book. For example, at page 41, vol. I:

“The man gazed at the house with a fierce intentness that sometimes glared, in a manner that had got to be, in its ordinary aspects, dull.”  This it is utterly impossible to comprehend. We presume, however, the intention is to say that although the man’s ordinary manner (of gazing) had “got to be” dull, he occasionally gazed with an intentness that glared, and that he did so in the instance in question. The “got to be” is atrocious, the whole sentence no less so.

Here, at page 9, vol. I, is something excessively vague: “Of the latter character is the face of most of that region that lies in the angle formed by the junction of the Mohawk with the Hudson,” etc. etc. The Mohawk, joining the Hudson, forms two angles, of course—an acute and an obtuse one; and, without farther explanation, it is difficult to say which is intended.

At page 55, vol. I., we read: “The captain, owing to his English education, had avoided straight lines, and formal paths, giving to the little spot the improvement on nature which is a consequence of embellishing her works without destroying them. On each side of this lawn was an orchard, thrifty and young, and that were already beginning to show signs of putting forth their blossoms.”  Here we are tautologically informed that improvement is a consequence of embellishment, and supererogatorily told that the rule holds good only where the embellishment is not accompanied by destruction. Upon the “each orchard were" it is needless to comment.

The problem Poe discusses in the third paragraph is that __________.

Possible Answers:

Cooper's description of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers does not give enough detail

Cooper's description of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers does not tell where they intersect

Cooper's description of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers is grammatically poor 

Cooper's description of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers shows he does not know what he is talking about

Correct answer:

Cooper's description of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers does not give enough detail


Poe says this description is "excessively vague" because it refers to one angle rather than two, therefore not giving enough detail. This specific critique of one aspect of Cooper's writing and description acts as evidence of the general fuzziness of thinking, and inattentiveness that Poe argues characterize Cooper's writing in general.

Example Question #1 : Using Evidence

Dear Congressman Phillips,

I urge you to reconsider your closure of the shipyard. I'm a medical practitioner in the area, so I meet many of the men and women employed by the facility. Many of these people are living paycheck to paycheck, unable to afford regular medical care; any gap in their employment could be devastating. If you must see it economically, consider the tremendous cost to the taxpayers when these people must rely on public programs for assistance. I ask you to please keep this shipyard open.

Very truly yours, . . .

Which option is NOT a supporting detail for raising guard salaries?

Possible Answers:

The shipyard employees cannot afford regular medical care

The employees would rely on public assistance

The author is a medical practitioner

None of these

The employees cannot afford to be unemployed

Correct answer:

The author is a medical practitioner


While the passage does state that the author is a medical practitioner, the fact does not support the main argument; instead, it lends credibility to his arguments.

Example Question #2 : Using Evidence

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the European education system underwent an overhaul which was, in part, solidified with the creation of the Bologna Process, an agreement among European countries to improve consistency and quality in higher education across the continent. The creation of the Bologna Process has not only improved the standard of education in EU nations, but set a very high bar for nations hoping to join the EU to hurdle. Belarus has already applied and been rejected due to concerns about its academic commitment. So we can see that quality education in Europe is not simply a lucky coincidence, or the natural result of a long history of scholars, but an intentional reform initiative upon which major political decisions, such as the inclusion of countries into the European Union, are made. Eastern European countries also had an especially difficult time transitioning to the new standards required of Bologna Process signatories since they were coming from the Soviet tradition of severely underfunded public schools and widespread bribery as a main criterion for university admission. The Soviet influence on the current state of tertiary education can clearly be seen by comparing Eastern and Western Germany. Before the implementation of the Bologna Process and formation of the European Higher Education Area, many European countries modeled their higher education system on Germany's, which separated students into academic or vocational training schools from the beginning of high school. This model fit with the Communist rationale of all jobs being of equal value, and the obligation of adolescents to train for the job for which they were best suited in society rather than allowing them to choose a major at the university level.

What evidence does the author use to support the assertion that Soviet influence remains in the modern-day European higher education?

Possible Answers:

Differences can be seen between Western and Eastern German educations

Students are no longer separated into academic or vocational training schools from the beginning of high school

Quality education in Europe is the result of its long history of scholars

The creation of the Bologna Process has improved the standard of education in EU nations

Widespread bribery is a main criterion for university admission

Correct answer:

Differences can be seen between Western and Eastern German educations


The passage states that, "The Soviet influence on the current state of tertiary education can clearly be seen by comparing Eastern and Western Germany." This is a pretty direct assertion that pertains directly to the question at hand.

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