Coherence is an organisational skill that works at 2 levels.It is the skill of writing paragraphs that develop an idea in a way that the reader understands what the main point is and why it is important. It is also the skill of organising your essay so that the paragraphs link together so that the reader understands the connections between the paragraphs and the flow of the essay.
What is it?
Put briefly, it’s linking your ideas together so that people understand what you want to say. The concept of understanding is very important. It’s a combination of
selecting clear main ideas
developing those ideas with reasons and examples
using linking words/phrases to show how everything links together
To get it right you need all of this.
3 reasons why coherence matters?
- It is 25% of your IELTS writing score. Enough said.
- It matters because it can make your writing subjectively much more appealing to the examiner. If your essay is coherent, the examiner will understand what you are trying to say after one reading of the essay when they first decide how to grade the essay.
- It also matters from another point of view as well – it makes the essay writing process easier. As you learn to write coherently, you will find that one sentence naturally follows on from the previous sentence.
Paragraph coherence – a very brief explanation
One form of coherence is within a paragraph. To achieve this you need to learn how to structure a paragraph with a topic sentence and to develop that sentence through the appropriate use of explanations and examples.
The easy way to think about this is that a paragraph is a series of sentences all related to the same idea.
Essay coherence – a very brief explanation
Another form of coherence is on a larger scale in the essay itself: this is coherence between paragraphs so that the argument of the essay develops in a logical and ordered manner. To achieve this you need to learn how to structure an essay so that the different paragraphs connect to each other.
The easy way to think about this is that an essay is a series of paragraphs/ideas that link together to form one coherent point of view. This means that you need to adopt a clear point of view in your introduction and then develop it through your whole essay. Each content paragraph should develop the point of view in the introduction and then the conclusion should summarise it in different language.
Coherence and cohesion
In the test coherence is graded with cohesion. The 2 ideas are very similar but to understand more about cohesion which is banded with coherence in IELTS writing, I suggest you visit this page:
To see how avoid some common mistakes in the test and see how examiners grade coherence and cohesion, I suggest you visit this page: