25% of your Writing Task 1 is assessed on how coherent and cohesive your writing is.
Coherence:- Involves organizing information logically and in paragraphs so that it is easy for the reader to follow.
Cohesion:- Involves connecting sentences and ideas using techniques such as pronoun referencing, signposts and special phrases.
Therefore, coherence and cohesion refer to how well your writing communicates its message, that is, how well it:
- is organised
- can be understood.
To do this, we will focus on the use of:
- Letter skeleton
- pronoun referencing
- signposts/ connective words
1. Letter Skeleton
The greeting depends on who the letter is being written to. The most common greetings are:
- Dear John: this is used to begin a casual letter, such as to a friend or relative.You should use only the person’s first name.
- Dear [Mr/Mrs/Ms Smith]: this is used to begin a formal letter, such as to a client or customer. You should use only the person’s family name, plus their title.
- Dear Sir or Madam: this is used to begin a formal letter when you don’t know the name of the person you are writing.
The Purpose & Introduction:-
The introduction is where you introduce yourself (recipient is unknown), say why you are writing, and explain your situation.
The body is the main section of the letter, where you give further details. Your letter should be divided into paragraphs and, as in an essay, each paragraph should have one main point.
The closing or sign-off is where you finish your letter and request a response, if appropriate. Like the greeting, the sign-off you choose depends on who you are writing to.
2. Pronoun Referencing
Pronoun referencing involves using pronouns to refer back to a subject that has already been mentioned in the same sentence or in a previous sentence. Notice the bold letters in the given letter:-
How are you? It was great to hear from you. Thanks so much for inviting me to your birthday party next Saturday. It sounds great, and I’d absolutely love to come there, but unfortunately I’ve already arranged to do some thing else that day.
Do you remember my cousin Victor? He‘s the one who‘s been living in Singapore for the last year. Well, he’s flying in for a visit and I promised I’d show him around. He‘s only going to be in town for the day, so I really can’t get out of it.
I really want to get together, though. How about coffee next week or the week after? I know you‘ve got a lot on your plate at the moment, but I’ll give you a call and we can sort out the details over the phone. Maybe we can check out that new cafe near the library. I hear their coffee is to die for.
Have a great party! Hope to catch up with you soon!
Lots of love,
If you use pronoun referencing, you improve the cohesion and coherence of your writing because you connect sentences smoothly with each other by not repeating the subject, thereby improving the flow too.
I often suggest my students, “Never surprise your examiner.” Connective words(signposts within a sentence) and signposting devices(between sentence and paragraphs) if you want to chieve this. Let’s analyse this letter in terms of signposting(Bolded).
|Dear Mr Perez,|
I was extremely grateful to receive your letter of the 23rd, informing me about your country. I would be most interested in visiting Mexico if I was given the opportunity.
You requested some information about my usual activities. With regard to my employment, I am currently a student pursuing a degree in electrical engineering. Moreover, I am employed on a part-time basis as a private tutor for young children, which I find quite rewarding. During my Leisure time I typically read or meet acquaintances socially.
As to food, there is a great variety available in my country. Also, here is a strong influence from Asian cuisine, such as Thai and Malaysian. If you were to visit I would be pleased to prepare one of my Thai stir-fries for you.
Finally, you enquired about the climate of my country. Most of the year it is extremely sunny and pleasant, although the heat can be excessive in summer. Winters are cool but never overly cold, and usually rainy.
I hope to hear from you soon with further information about Mexico.
Do you notice those bold words above? As an IELTS examiner why do I like these connective words?
- they give an idea about what is coming next.
- they enhance cohesion and and cohesiveness of your letter
- they link ideas between sentences
- they link ideas between paragraph
- Finally → Among all the above explanatory paragraph, this one is last.
Use at least one connective word per paragraph after introduction.
Table 1 Signposts usually found at the beginning of the sentence
|Introduce a new subject||Regarding|
With regard to
The most important reason
|Introduce a contrasting idea||However|
On the other hand
|Introduce a similar idea||Likewise|
|Add another idea||Moreover|
|Give an example||For example|
|Give the cause||Because of|
|Give the effect||Therefore|
As a result
As a consequence
For this reason
Table 2 Signposts usually found within a sentence (conjunctions)
|Introduce a contrasting idea||Cities are polluted, but/while/whereas the countryside is not.|
|Give an example||Urbanisation causes a lot of pollution such as air, noise and water pollution.|
|Add another idea.||Air pollution is caused by smoke from factories and/as well as cars.|
|Air pollution is caused by smoke from factories too/also.|
|Give the cause||Cities are polluted because/as there is so much smoke.|
|Give the effect||There is a lot of smoke in cities so/so that they become polluted.|
This is the table consisting of all the most common connective devices used in IELTS writing and speaking.
Using connective words to signpost:-
- in addition
- as well as
- beside that
- and then
- not only… but also
- to begin with
- earlier/ later
- after this
- following this
- following that
- as a result
Certainty Condition Definition
obviously if is
certainly unless refers to
plainly whether means
of course provided that that is
undoubtedly for consists of
Example Reason Time
for instance since before
one example as since
for example so as
just as because (of) until
in particular due to meanwhile
such as owing to at the moment
namely the reason why when
to illustrate in other words whenever
leads to as soon as
cause just as
however in conclusion
on the other hand in summary
in spite of finally
though to sum up
but to conclude
on the contrary to recapitulate
otherwise in short