Achieve Smooth and Logical IELTS Writing: Mastering Cohesion & Coherence 

 March 21, 2024

By  Jonathan

Coherence and cohesion are essential elements that create clear, well-structured, and easy-to-follow writing. In the IELTS Writing test, strong cohesion and coherence demonstrate your ability to organize your ideas logically, helping you achieve a higher band score. Let’s explore what these concepts mean and how to master them for success on your IELTS journey.

Understanding Coherence and Cohesion

  • Coherence refers to the overall sense and understandability of your writing. It’s about how your ideas connect on a larger scale, flowing smoothly within paragraphs and throughout your entire essay.
  • Cohesion involves the ‘glue’ that holds your writing together – the linguistic devices that seamlessly link your sentences and paragraphs.

Why Do Coherence and Cohesion Matter in IELTS Writing?

  • Clarity: Well-structured writing with smooth transitions prevents confusion and guides the reader through your argument or description.
  • Reader Experience: Disjointed writing is difficult to follow. Excellent cohesion and coherence make your essay pleasant to read, enhancing the examiner’s understanding.
  • Formal Style: A key aspect of IELTS writing is maintaining a formal style. Cohesive devices help create a more sophisticated and academic tone.
  • Overall Impression: Smoothly connected writing reflects your strong command of the English language and ability to communicate your ideas effectively.

Strategies for Enhancing Coherence & Cohesion

  1. Planning is Key
    • Before you start writing, create a brief outline for each essay.
    • Task 1: Decide which trends and features to highlight. Task 2: Brainstorm arguments and relevant examples.
  2. Clear Topic Sentences
    • Each paragraph should start with a topic sentence that introduces its main idea.
    • This acts as a signpost for the reader, aiding coherence.
  3. Linking Words and Phrases
    • Utilize a variety of cohesive devices to show relationships between ideas:
      • To add: furthermore, moreover, in addition
      • To contrast: however, on the other hand, yet
      • To show cause/effect: therefore, consequently, as a result
      • To illustrate: for example, for instance, to illustrate
  4. Pronouns for Smoothness
    • Avoid over-repeating nouns by strategically using pronouns (it, this, these, they, etc.).
    • Be sure pronouns have clear references to avoid confusion.
  5. Synonyms and Parallel Structure
    • Use synonyms to prevent excessive repetition of keywords but maintain a focused discussion.
    • Parallel structure (using the same grammatical pattern) creates rhythm and cohesion in your sentences.

Example: Achieving Coherence in an IELTS Task 1 Paragraph

Let’s analyse a sample Task 1 paragraph describing a line graph:

  • Topic Sentence: The graph illustrates significant changes in the proportion of people using three modes of transportation over a 20-year period.
  • Data Trends + Cohesive Devices: Initially, car usage was the most popular, however, it witnessed a gradual decline. Conversely, the percentage of people utilizing public transport steadily increased throughout the period. Interestingly, bicycle usage remained relatively stable, fluctuating only slightly.

Practice Task

Read an IELTS Writing Task 2 sample essay. Analyse how the author uses:

  • Topic sentences
  • Linking words and phrases
  • Pronouns and synonyms

Additional Tips:

  • Read Aloud: Read your written work out loud to catch awkward transitions and disjointed sections.
  • Get Feedback: Ask a qualified instructor or skilled English speaker to review your essays for feedback on coherence and cohesion.
  • Expand Your Vocabulary: Learn a broader range of cohesive devices and topic-related vocabulary.

Remember: Mastering coherence and cohesion comes with practice and awareness. By implementing the strategies above, you will transform your IELTS writing into clear, well-structured, and compelling essays that earn you your desired band score.

Jonathan has been teaching students to prepare for the IELTS and PTE Exams for more than 10+ years. He's taught English to students in various countries in the world including Singapore, China, Australia, Canada and Colombia.