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When taking the IELTS test, candidates are graded on coherence and cohesion for both Task 1 and Task 2. This makes up a significant portion of your overall score, so it is important to know what they are and the most effective ways to incorporate them into your writing. Here’s what you need to know.  

What is coherence?

Hands writing in a notebook.  - Article - What is coherence? - Canada

Coherence is when the parts of something fit together naturally. In writing, it is when your ideas are connected together in a natural and logical way. There is a beginning, middle, and end. Your ideas are easy to follow and flow together well. 

What is cohesion?

Cohesion is the words and phrases connecting your sentences together within your writing. Each sentence connects well grammatically to the next, from start to finish.  

Now that you know what coherence and cohesion are, here are some of the best ways to create both in your writing. 

Most Effective Ways to Create Coherence - Body paragraphs 

People smiling, looking down at a notebook. With one person writing.  Article -Most Effective Ways to Create Coherence-Canada

When completing the writing section of the IELTS test, you should always use paragraphs. For General Task 1, you can separate your bullet points into paragraphs. For Academic Task 1, you should have an introduction and 1-2 body paragraphs. A conclusion is optional for this task.  

When writing Task 2, paragraphs are very important. You should have an introductory paragraph, 1-3 body paragraphs (depending on how much you can write), and a conclusion. The number of body paragraphs is also dependent on which type of essay you are writing. For example, if the task is a discussion essay, you can write one opinion in the first paragraph of the body and the opposing opinion in the second paragraph.  

The topic should be very clear in all paragraphs. Try not to write off-topic or add any ideas not related to the topic in any of the paragraphs. When the examiner is reading your essay, they should never ask themself, “Why is the candidate writing about this?”.  

Topic sentences

A good way to create coherence is to have a topic sentence in each body paragraph introducing the idea within the paragraph and how it connects to the main topic. This helps with readability and reader comprehension. 

Cohesive devices

Cohesive devices are all the words and phrases used in writing to connect sentences and ideas together. Words such as however, moreover, and in conclusion, are used frequently by candidates when writing Task 1 or Task 2.  

Most Effective Ways to Create Cohesion - Conjunctions

Conjunctions are the most common way for candidates to connect ideas and sentences together. These can be used effectively, but you have to be careful that you don’t overuse them. You also have to be careful that you don’t use them repeatedly in the same location within the sentence. Here are some good examples: 

Despite the rain, we enjoyed the celebration.  

I like apples and oranges. 

If the government made more rules, then there would be less crime.  

The number of people increased whereas the amount of money decreased.  

After the storm, there is always a rainbow.   

Here is an example to avoid:  

First, the fruit is picked. Next, it is washed and processed. After that, the fruit is crushed and heated. 


Reference is another common way for candidates to create cohesion in their writing. It is very important to ensure you're using the correct word. For example, some candidates use the pronoun, he, for all nouns and this is incorrect. Here are some examples of referencing:  

Jane plays the piano. Her father is also classically trained.  

John and his brother, Luke, play college football.  

The students don’t agree. They want to have a meeting with their teacher on Monday.   

Children who don’t participate, have a much harder time fitting in.  

Here are some examples that are incorrect: 

The students were excited about the break. He was going to travel all over Europe.  

James has a heart of gold. His a really nice guy.  


Substitution is used in writing when one word is replaced with another so that there is less repetition in the writing task. Here are some examples: 

The company is not ready for the audit. This will cause too much stress.  

I love Brazil and I want you to come here to visit someday.  

Every flavour looks delicious, so I don’t know which one to choose.  

Do you like rock climbing? I don’t think so 


Ellipsis is when you remove a word or phrase from a sentence because you understand the meaning of a previous sentence. This reduces word repetition and is an effective way to write. Here are some examples of ellipses:  

Can Felix finish his presentation? Of course, he can [finish his presentation] 

We have one card, but we need two [cards]. 

She thought her opinion was more important than Sara’s [opinion]. 

Task 1 (Academic)

Below is a sample of an Academic Task 1. The writing is coherent because there's an introduction and body paragraphs. Also, the body paragraphs are grouped into similar trends and opposite trends within the graph. Some examples of cohesive devices that were used are highlighted. Notice that there is a range of words and phrases to make this task cohesive in an effective way.  

The line graph depicts the number of chocolate bars (dark, white, and milk chocolate) which were consumed over 10 years from 2000 to 2010. 

Overall, the number of white and milk chocolate bars consumed decreased over the period given, while for dark chocolate, it increased. At the start of the period, milk chocolate bars were the most popular, but were overtaken by white chocolate bars from 2004 to 2005. Following this, dark chocolate became the bar with the highest consumption rate in the final year. 

With regards to the number of milk chocolate bars eaten, it began around 150 and then peaked at 170 in 2003 before falling dramatically to about 60 in the final year. Likewise, around 100 white chocolate bars were eaten in the first year after which the figure fluctuated slightly and dropped to 50 in 2010. 

Alternatively, the consumption of dark chocolate bars started at only 20 in 2001. This figure, which reached a high of just 90 a few years later, fell slightly in the last year to roughly 80 in 2010. 

Task 2

Here is an example of Task 2. This writing is coherent because there’s an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The topic is clear throughout and different types of cohesive devices are used in order to tie everything together.  

Recently, there have been a lot of discussions about health and whether it is going to improve or not. In my opinion, I think that people will become unhealthier in the future than they are now.  

There are many reasons that support the idea of people becoming unhealthy in the future. Firstly, one reason is food. People tend to eat more fast food nowadays. This appears to be because people are busier now than they used to be and they don’t have a chance to cook at home. As a result, having a lot of unhealthy food can lead to obesity and could become a serious issue in the future. Another reason is that technology is developing every day. Young people enjoy buying the latest devices and this has a negative impact on their health, especially their mental and physical well-being. Spending long hours in front of the screen can lead to poor eyesight and depression. Both of these reasons result in lazy people.  

Other people might disagree and say that health will improve in the future. With the ever-growing technological advances come new ways to stay physically active. There are apps that track how many daily steps a person takes. There are also video games which promote physical activity such as sports games. Some also believe that different types of sports and other forms of exercise will appear in the future. Hopefully, with all of these innovative ways to stay active, people will become healthier in the future.  

In conclusion, although technology is trying to keep people active in different ways, I believe that health is affected negatively by fast food and technology, and it will be a problem in the future.  


Coherence and cohesion are vital components in Task 1 and Task 2 of the writing section. Using these skills in an effective way may have a positive effect on your overall band score.