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After first setting the cook time---then hit the power level button and hit the number 5 (for 50%) and then start. Power level can also be changed while running by hitting power level button and selecting 1 through 10. For example level 3 is 30% for defrosting.
You have to put the cook time in first and then you press the power level button (just below the number 7 on the keypad) and put the power level in. The choices are 1 through 10. Fifty percent is probably power level 5. Once you have put in the power level, just push the Start button and it will start cooking.
Assuming your touch pad is working properly, press Time Cook (for cooking) or Time Defrost (for defrosting) and then type in the length of time that you want the microwave to operate. Then press Power Level and type in a number from 1-10. Finally press Start. Depending on the GE microwave, the Power Level button may be above 2 or to the left of 0. (I've seen both keypad designs depending on when and where the microwave was manufactured.) If you press Power Level before setting the cooking time, the unit will reset when you press Time Cook or Time Defrost.