IELTS Writing: Immediately Improve Your Coherence and Cohesion Skills with These 3 Tips

Coherence and cohesion refer to the flow of sentences and paragraphs. It is essential in English writing (and speaking, for that matter) because it enhances the reader’s understanding of the ideas presented. Coherence and cohesion allow the reader to make connections between different sentences and paragraphs.

Coherence and cohesion count for 25% of the writing band score.

Apply these three tips to your writing and watch your cohesion and coherence scores improve immediately:

1) Check the structure of your essay

Essays typically follow a predictable pattern:

  • Introduction
  • Body paragraph(s)
  • Conclusion

While all of these elements are not necessary in both of the IELTS writing tasks (I’m looking at you, conclusion), you still need to make sure that this basic structure is used in presenting your points.

First, introduce your topic. A good place to start is by paraphrasing the IELTS prompt.

Then, make sure that your supporting ideas are broken down into distinct body paragraphs. Most paragraphs have one recognizable main idea, so only include sentences that pertain to that one idea. A good rule of thumb is to introduce your main idea in the first sentence (this is called a topic sentence) and then use your following sentences to contribute to this idea.

TIP: Always, always plan out your writing ahead of time. You’re probably thinking, “But...the test is timed! And planning takes too long.” Trust me, taking the time to make a quick outline is worth it. You will not be able to score above a Band 5 in Coherence and Cohesion if you do not display adequate paragraphing skills.

2) Use interesting repetition

Words, phrases, or ideas that are used in one sentence (or paragraph) and then repeated in the next are called pointers, and they are used to enhance a reader’s understanding as they move through a text.

Example: A number of academic studies have shown that classical music stimulates the brain. These studies lend support to a theory known as “The Mozart Effect”.

However, continuously using the same pointers makes your writing dull. To avoid this, you should strive to employ the following techniques:

I. Use pronouns to replace words or phrases already mentioned.

Noun/Noun Phrase

Pronoun

A team of scientists have discovered...

According to their research...

The theory states that...

It is controversial because...

There are a number of reasons...

The most important of these is...

II. Swap previously used words or phrases with their synonyms.

Noun/Noun Phrase

Synonym

Climate change is an increasing problem...

If we don’t address global warming...

This graph shows...

The bar graph also illustrates...

Early diagnosis is critical...

The idea is to identify...

III. Change the word form (verbs to nouns, for example).

The students were asked to assess...

Their final assessment illustrated...

Technology changes rapidly.

It is difficult to stay abreast of new technological innovations.

International cooperation is the goal...

Countries must cooperate...

3) Include Transitions

Transitions help readers navigate your writing. You can use simple conjunctions, such as “and” or “but”, or you can show off your language ability using more complex transitional devices. Check out this list for some ideas:

To add information

and, also, as well, too, besides, in addition, what’s more, furthermore, moreover, again, besides, equally important

Comparison

similarly, likewise, in similar fashion, by the same token, in the same way

Contrast

but, yet, nevertheless, nonetheless, though, otherwise, on the other hand, on the contrary, at the same time

Concession

granted, naturally, of course

To give examples

for example, for instance, to illustrate, namely, specifically, after all, thus, in fact, e.g.(for example)

Relationships

therefore, consequently, accordingly, so, for this reason

Summary

to summarize, in short, in sum, all in all, on the whole, that is