What is “Coherence and Cohesion”?

If you are taking the IELTS, you might be familiar with the IELTS writing band descriptors. These are the criteria that IELTS examiners use to assess your writing and give you a band score from 1-9. One of the band descriptors is called “Coherence and Cohesion”. Although this is explained in the public band descriptors, unless you are a trained IELTS examiner, it can be difficult to decipher what it actually means.

Although they may seem like a mystery, Coherence and Cohesion actually refer to the structure and flow of your essay and its paragraphs. Structure means how your essay and paragraphs are organised, and flow means that your ideas are connected logically and skilfully.

Coherence and cohesion are paired together because if your paragraphs are structured well, they should also flow logically. Let’s take a look at each of these criteria in detail.


Simply put, coherence means “structure” (paragraph and essay structure).

To get a high score in Coherence and Cohesion, your essay and paragraphs should follow the structure below:

Introduction Structure

The introduction tells the reader what the essay is about and what it will do

  • General statement about the topic
  • Specific statement about the topic
  • Thesis statement (what the essay will do)

Paragraph Structure

Each paragraph should have one central idea

  • Introduce the central idea
  • Explain the central idea
  • Give an example to illustrate the central idea
  • Conclude the central idea

Conclusion Structure

The conclusion restates the thesis and summarizes what the essay did

  • Restate thesis
  • Summarize what the essay did
  • Give an opinion/recommendation/prediction

The central idea of each body paragraph should be linked back to the thesis statement in your introduction and should be reiterated in your conclusion.

Know more about Coherence and Cohesion, and get that IELTS band 8 score!


Cohesion means flow. This is how well your ideas follow from one to the next with seamless and logical transition. As you develop your paragraph, your ideas must be related to each other and they should be logically linked with referencing and linking words.

Referencing words refer to pronouns, like this, these, it, etc. You can use these to link an idea in one sentence to an idea in the previous sentence.

Another way to connect ideas is to use linking words. These are words like however, on the other hand, for example, therefore, etc. But be careful! Like salt and pepper, you should use these sparingly. To score above a 7, you should not include more than two of these kinds of words in your paragraph. Overusing them will bring your coherence and cohesion band score down.

The best way to develop your writing skills and to enhance the coherence and cohesion of your essay is through feedback. So, to learn how to write well-structured paragraphs and skilfully connect your ideas with a logical flow, E2Language is running a full-day IELTS writing workshop at E2Campus in Melbourne. IELTS expert teachers Jamal and Jay will deliver hands-on, in-person IELTS writing training which will help you master not only coherence and cohesion but all four of the IELTS writing band descriptors. Check it out here: http://bit.ly/2KXlGcJ

Written by: Jamal

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