Cohesion and Coherence in IELTS Writing Tasks

Cohesion and Coherence in IELTS Writing Tasks

It might be confusing to define cohesion and coherence for those who have not learnt academic writing previously. However,since cohesion and coherence make up the total percentage of your IELTS writing score here and here. Furthermore, it is equivalent to 25% of your total writing tasks score.

‘Cohesion’ can be defined as connectivity in a text, especially in sentence level as well as the ideas. See the following sentences for example:

“Public transportation plays a pivotal role in human life nowadays. Many people use different modes to travel between places, such as train, bus, and taxi. However, using public transit has their own advantages and disadvantages.”

Notice that the ideas in those three sentences are the same and they are connected seamlessly.

The term ‘coherence’ is generally understood to mean the clear arrangement of your ideas in an essay. Basically, in IELTS writing task 1 and 2, the essay structure must be clear and follows these three parts: introduction, body paragraph(s), and conclusion. Here is an example for the following IELTS task 2 question:

“Many children are encouraged by their parents to get a part time job in their free time. What are the advantages and disadvantages to children of doing so?”

To answer the question, you have to divide the essay into four paragraphs. The first one is the introduction, and you may start by paraphrasing the question, then write your topic sentence. You may take the example for cohesion above as a starting point. The second one, you should write the advantages of the children to do a part time job. The third one, write the disadvantages to them. Finally, in the last paragraph, restate the topic sentence and conclude with your own opinion. Thus, you make a coherent essay for the Task 2.

It is definitely important to do the exercise in academic writing and start to analyse the different structure for each question type, but it is equally important to have someone to guide you through the learning process.


Lidya Pawestri Ayuningtyas is an English lecturer, translator, and creative writer. An LPDP awardee, she holds an MA in TESOL Pre-service from University College London, a bachelor in English literature from University of Indonesia, and diploma degree from State Polytechnic of Jakarta where she is currently teaching.