Top Tips for IELTS

IELTS writing – coherence and cohesion explained

This article looks at coherence and cohesion in IELTS writing and give examples of common mistakes that IELTS candidates make using them. Understanding these mistakes should help improve your IELTS writing and your band score.


Paragraphs need to have a clear, central topic and be used logically. If your writing does not have paragraphs or the paragraphs are confusing, your coherence score will be no more than 5.

Common mistake: candidates do not develop their paragraphs and put together a series of unrelated points. One reason they do this is that they forget it is a language exam and not a knowledge exam. They select their best ideas and not the ideas that are easiest to write about.

Solution: Make sure that each paragraph is about one idea. In the planning stage make sure you have enough to say about an idea before you start writing about it. This means that you may choose the ideas that are easiest to write about and not the ones that are the most intelligent.

Another solution is to think of reasons and examples for each of your main points. Many candidates forget to use examples. This is a mistake because examples are often easier to write about than reasons. see paragraph coherence.

Logical organisation of essay

There needs to be a clear progression of ideas throughout the essay. This means that your paragraphs need to link in to each other.

Common mistake: There is no overall plan for the essay and the paragraphs do not link in to each other.

Solution: One solution is to make sure you state your position clearly in the introduction paragraph and make sure that each following paragraph links to that. Another solution is to focus on the first sentence in each paragraph and state clearly what the purpose of that paragraph is.

See essay coherence.

Cohesive devices need to be used well

This means that you need to link the parts of your sentences and your sentences together.

Common mistake: to overuse linking words such as “so” “furthermore” “moreover”. It is not enough to use linking words, you need to use linking words correctly.

Solution: Learn to use a range of linking words and phrases, not just a few. Also learn to do the simple things well; some of the best linking words are the simplest. “This” and other pronouns are excellent ways to link your writing together. See cohesion and why it matters for more detail.


This one might surprise you. However, if you do not learn to use punctuation, your writing will soon become incoherent as you will not be writing sentences. This can mean that your band score here will be no more than 5. You can read more about this in my lesson writing in sentences and using full stops.

You might also be interested in:

How to like it, share it and share it


Get more help with IELTS preparation on the main pages of my site

Home page

Speaking Guide

Writing Guide

Essay writing guide

Academic task 1 guide

Letter writing guide

Reading guide

Listening guide

IELTS vocabulary

IELTS grammar

Keep up with me on Facebook - all the updates and even more advice there


Or just get all my free lessons by email

Subscribe to DC IELTS by Email

, ,

2 Responses to IELTS writing – coherence and cohesion explained

  1. January 27, 2012 at 3:53 am #


    I am really inspired along with your writing talents as smartly as with the structure in your weblog. Stay up the excellent quality writing, it is uncommon to look a nice blog like this one nowadays. Keep it up!

    Thank you.

  2. eNGLISH IELTS tEAcher January 22, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    coherence and cohesion is really useful as long as we know that it is worth 25% of IELTS mark and it is an important factor in the other Cambridge exams as well.

Leave a Reply