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IELTS Writing: Understanding Coherence And Cohesion

The IELTS writing test assesses a test taker’s score based on 4 main areas i.e. Task Achievement, Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource, and Grammatical Range and Accuracy. Most people/candidates are relatively familiar with lexical resources and grammatical range and accuracy requirements, but coherence and cohesion is one of the criteria the candidates know the least about. In this article, we will take a closer look at the IELTS writing coherence and cohesion criteria, and have exactly you can go about maximizing your score in this area

What Is Coherence?

Coherence refers to how well the examiner can understand what you write. There are several things that can affect this, such as grammar mistakes, the use of inappropriate words and phrases or the illogical ordering of sentences and idea.In short, to well in this area, a test taker must produce an essay that is logically ordered and clear, so that it can be easily understood by the reader. In order to score well in terms of coherence you must be able:

  • Use separate paragraphs, each with its own main idea.
  • Make sure that your essay follows a logical sequence.
  • Use linking words to connect different paragraphs.

For example, a common essay structure for a typical advantage/disadvantage type of essay would be:

  • Intro paragraph 1- paraphrase the question
  • Main body paragraph 2 – discuss 1/2 advantages along with supporting ideas and examples
  • Main body paragraph 3 – discuss 1/2 disadvantages along with supporting ideas and examples
  • Conclusion – provide a summary of the main ideas plus a relevant suggestion

What Is Cohesion?

Cohesion refers to your ability to link ideas, sentences and paragraphs using various methods You should be able to link ideas, sentences and paragraphs and this helps to progress clearly from one idea to another.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to use linking words and discourse markers. If you do not include discourse markers and linking words in your IELTS writing, your answer will appear illogical and be more difficult to understand. A few examples are, Nevertheless, Particularly, Thus, Naturally, etc.

There are also additional ways to improve the cohesion in your works, such as:

  • Make sure you only use 1 main idea in each paragraph, and that you support your arguments sufficiently by providing sufficient explanations and examples.
  • Use complex sentence structures to link ideas. However, you also have to make sure that these types of sentences are correctly punctuated.
  • You can also use pronouns and synonyms to sound less repetitive.

The above-mentioned methods are useful because if you overuse linking words while trying to make your essay more cohesive, you will only end up sounding unnatural.

If you feel that your writing skills are lacking in any way, then you should probably consider enrolling in an IELTS prep course. This is because it is very difficult for second language learners to objectively point out their own weak areas when it comes to productive skills like writing. This is why the best approach would be to work on your writing skills with a trusted IELTS professional, who can guide on all the best methods and tips to improve your IELTS writing responses.

IELTS Speaking: How To Overcome Fluency Issues

Fluency is one of the four criteria that is assessed by examiners during the exam, it is also one of the toughest areas to improve in, as there are no hard and fast rules for this particular aspect like there are for the other criteria like vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. For this reason, it can be hard to know where to begin to improve your fluency. In this article, we will take a look at how to overcome some common issues with fluency

What Is Fluency?

Many students make the mistake of confusing fluency with speaking too quickly. Native speakers of any language tend to speak faster in their mother tongues since they are familiar with all the intricacies of the language. However, if you attempt to speak too quickly during your test before you have actually mastered the necessary skills you might sound incoherent and end up lowering your score.

Remember don’t put the horse before the cart. Put in the necessary effort to develop your speaking skills and your fluency will naturally improve as well.

Try To Think Of Good Ideas Quickly

Sometimes when a candidate hesitates when speaking it is misconstrued as a lack of fluency. Often this is just because the candidate is struggling to think of good ideas, instead of thinking of the correct words.

Remember the content of your answer is not being assessed, but rather the way in which you communicate these ideas, even if they are not very good. The examiner is not testing your knowledge, they are listening out for certain linguistic skills. So don’t focus on giving the perfect answer, start talking about the first idea that comes to mind when you get asked a question.

Don’t Fixate On Grammar And Vocabulary

Another issue that prevents candidates from sounding fluent is their unnecessary fixation with using the perfect vocabulary and grammar. If you spend too much time worrying about producing the perfect sentence, you will end up sounding very unnatural and probably almost machine-like.

How Can You Improve Your Fluency

One of the best ways to improve your fluency is to continually practice. Try to find a speaking partner or even try speaking to yourself. The more you speak, the more comfortable you become with the practical application of the concepts you learn during your speak preparation. Doing so will result in the gradual improvement of both your confidence and fluency.

Consider Getting An Outside Opinion

It is very difficult for second language learners to objectively point out their own weak areas when it comes to productive skills like speaking. This is why the best approach would be to work on your fluency with a trusted IELTS professional, who can guide on all the best methods and tips to improve your pronunciation.

IELTS Vocabulary: Why Collocations Are Important

During the IELTS writing modules, the examiner will be looking out for certain skills and criteria in your essay to determine if your essay is a high-scoring response or not. One such skill is the ability to use collocations effectively. In this article, we will take a look closer at collocations and the IELTS writing module

What Is A Collocation?

A collocation is a group of words that are often found together. There may be some underlying grammatical reasons for some groupings. However more often not, certain groupings are formed due to long-term usage and these groups of words end up sounding more natural.

For example, strong tea sounds better than powerful tea. Even though strong and powerful mean the same thing.

Some words just naturally collate together, while others do not like, ‘do homework’ instead of  ‘make homework’, ‘make tea’ instead of ‘cook tea’ or ‘make the bed’ instead of ‘do the bed’

Different Types Of Common Collocations

Verb + noun

Noun +noun

Adjective + noun

Verb + adverb

Adverb + adjective

  • adverb + adjective
    • Correct: fully aware
    • Incorrect: outright aware
  • adjective + noun
    • Correct: deep sleep
    • Incorrect: low sleep
  • noun + noun
    • Correct: round of applause
    • Incorrect: group of applause
  • noun + verb
    • Correct: cats purr, dogs bark
    • Incorrect: cats bark, dogs purr
  • verb + noun
    • Correct: give a speech
    • Incorrect: send a speech

Why Are Collocation Improve In The IELTS Exam

In order to be able to score above a band 6.0 for Lexical Resources candidates must be able to use common lexical items with some awareness of style and collocation.

This means to score well in the area of lexical resources, it's not enough to just use uncommon vocabulary you also need to know about which words are commonly used with those uncommon words.

It is important to note that, with all uncommon and new vocabulary, make sure that you are fully aware of a collocations usage before you use it in your essay. Using collocations incorrectly will negatively affect your score.

How Can You Learn Collocations

Many students often try to memorize lists of collocations. However, I don’t really think that this is an effective method. When you memorize lists you might just store the words in your long term memory but they will never really become part of your functional vocabulary (the words you use on a daily basis)

I think it's better to come across these collocations in a natural way. Like for example through active reading. In this way not only will you be able to source new vocabulary but you will also get a better idea about how these words are used in a natural way.

Also, make it a habit to look for the words that commonly collate with any new pieces of vocabulary that you might come across during your preparation.

You can easily find these common collocations by using online dictionaries such as Collins, Longmans, etc.

Remember to also practice using these collocations by speaking or writing a few sentences with them. This will make it easier to recall these words when we need to use them.

How Podcasts Can Help You Prepare For The IELTS Exam

These days there are plenty of ESL podcasts hosted by professional teachers online. Although many of these podcasts are intended to entice students to enroll for a more comprehensive course that is being offered by the host. However, there are still some ways in which these podcasts can be put to good use for your IELTS preparation, even if you don’t intend to enroll in any of the host's courses or services.

What Is A Podcast?

A podcast is basically an updated version of a radio program. You can subscribe to a podcast and be notified whenever a new episode is available. You can listen to a podcast on any device that has internet connectivity, like your mobile phone, or laptop.

Why Podcasts Can Be Useful

More often than not IELTS candidates suffer from burnout from staring at textbooks and screens during their IELTS study time. Listening to a podcast can be a refreshing change from typical preparation methods and it's something you can do while relaxing, taking a walk, or on your way to work. It’s a good way to immerse yourself in the English language as spoken by qualified native speakers.

With a little bit of dedication and commitment, you can use these types of podcasts to improve not only your listening skills but your speaking and reading skills as well.

How Can Podcasts Improve Your Language Skills

Speaking Skills

Why you listen to an ESL podcast you have the opportunity to hear how the English language is spoken by a native speaker. You should pay attention to how certain words are pronounced. Focus on how words are pronounced. This is a great way to aid in your IELTS preparation is to familiarize yourself with how native English speakers speak. This will also help acclimatize you to the sounds and unique pronunciations used by multiple speakers with different accents.

You can also read along with the script as you listen to the recording. Make sure to note down unfamiliar words, and keep a record of these for future use. During the podcast, you will be able to hear how these unfamiliar words are used and pronounced in a natural conversation, you can also use the transcripts to learn about the spelling of these new words.

Listening Skill

You can also use podcasts to improve your listening skills. You can greatly improve how well you focus on what is being said during a conversation. Try to follow the conversations as much as possible. You could even try listening to a podcast in chunks, and then try to summarise every ‘small chunk’ Go back to the transcript to see if you missed out on any important details.

It would be even better to practice doing this in a busy or noisy area so that you can mimic the conditions of a busy test center. By doing this you will be able to listen attentively without being distracted by background noise.

How To Learn New Words For The IELTS Essay Question

Having a wide range of vocabulary is essential for the IELTS essay question. However, most students go about learning new vocabulary by simply memorising word lists. They fail to understand that have a good range of vocabulary involves more than just knowing a word’s meaning and pronunciation, you also need to know which words to use and how to use them effectively in different situations. In this article, you will learn about the right words to include in your vocabulary bank and how to learn new words for the IELTS Essay.

Know Which Words To Learn

The IELTS Essay Questions are sourced from a list of common core topics, which include

  • Shopping
  • Work
  • Travel
  • Media
  • Inventions
  • Environment
  • Education

Familiarise yourself with the vocabulary and phrases related to these topics as part of your IELTS preparation. Remember to note down synonyms for each of the words you learn as the ability to paraphrase (rephrase) is an important criterion to obtain a high score. If you repeat the same words again and again, you will give the impression that you do not have a wide enough range of vocabulary on the given subject and this can severely affect your score.

How To Learn New Words

You can start off by sourcing words through active reading. Read for enjoyment. Pick topics that interest you, so that you will stay motivated while learning. Whenever you come across unfamiliar words, try to understand their meaning by looking at the context in which they were used.

You can these words in a vocabulary journal, and make sure to update your journal every time read or hear a new word. You can also organise these new words thematically. Record the new words and phrases in a way that’s easy for revision. Make sure you record more than just the meaning and pronunciation. You can also list different forms of the word as well as common collocations and idioms that include these new words.

I find that one of the best ways to commit new words to my long-term memory, is to actually write out sentences using these words. This will give you a better understanding of the usage and grammar related to each word, and it will also help you to recall these words when you need to use them for your essay.

Another neat new method to learn new words is to use vocabulary builder mobile apps. There are plenty of apps that help you memorise new words by using repetitions and a flashcard style of learning that helps you to commit new words to memory faster than ever.

In order to build up your vocabulary as quickly and effectively as possible, I recommend that you use a combination of the above-mentioned methods.

IELTS Special Arrangements For Test-Takers

The owners of the IELTS exam make every effort to make the IELTS exam accessible to all types of test-takers. For this reason, arrangements for candidates with special needs can be made at any test center can be upon request.

Who Can Make IELTS Special Arrangements


Special arrangements include arrangements for candidates, with learning difficulties, sensory disabilities, such as visual or hearing difficulties, or any medical conditions.

How can you request special IELTS arrangements

To request a test center for special accommodations due to medical issues or disabilities, candidates will need to provide the following information:

  • A medical certificate from a professional who has dealt with the candidate
  • Details about the nature and degree of the disability
  • Details about the degree of the disability
  • Proof of medical testing or documentation of the disability

Candidates need to inform their respective test centers about their special arrangements 6 weeks before their actual test date. This is because it will take time for the responsible people at the test centre to review your request to determine if they are authentic, and make the necessary arrangements if your request is approved.

In certain cases, like sensory or disabilities, candidates may be provided with a modified version of the IELTS test. candidates with medical issues may be asked to provide a medical certificate to prove the validity of their special needs.

Visual Difficulties


  • Candidates with visual impairments may be given extra time to complete their tests. This can be up to 25% extra of the original time.
  • You can also avail the use of speech equipment to help you complete your test like handheld magnifiers or screen magnification software or even Braille question papers and keyboards.

Hearing and speaking difficulties

  • Candidates with hearing impairments have a number of options, to aid them while taking the exam. For example, they can use hearing aids, special headphones, or even take hearing impaired lip-reading versions of the listening test. these lip-reading tests involve the test being read out aloud twice in front of the test taker.
  • You can also ask for extra time to complete the speaking test.

Learning Difficulties

For test-takers who suffer from learning disabilities, there are a number of options to help them during the IELTS  exam. they could ask for extra time to complete the exam. candidates are allowed up to 25% of the original time as extra time.

You can also opt for a special version of the listening test, in which there are more pauses allowed during the recording in order to help you answer in time. Supervised breaks are also allowed for those students who have difficulty concentrating.

If you  require special assistance during the IELTS exam, it's best to contact your test center as soon as possible to iron out the details of your special arrangements. Don’t assume that you will just be accommodated during test days, as you might end up not being able to take the exam

Do You Have To Sound Like A Native Speaker For The IELTS Exam?

Having to fake a native speaker accent in order to score well in the IELTS exam is a common myth that has unfortunately been perpetuated throughout the internet. In this article, we will take a look at whether there is any truth to this statement or not.

What Is An Accent?

In truth an accent is not apart of the speaking criteria of (so you do not need a native accent at all to score well in the exam). In fact most people actually confuse the meaning of the word accent, when they really mean pronunciation.

Pronunciation refers to a specific set of speaking features like word stress, intonation, and enunciation, while the word accent refers to how people from a particular area speak. All accents in the IELTS exam are generally fine unless of course your accent somehow hinders the understanding of what you are trying to say

Pronunciation is an important criteria for the speaking exam. Pay attention to your pronunciation as this accounts for 25% of your speaking score. Don’t overcomplicate or fake your accent but rather keep it simple, and easy to understand.

How Can You Improve Your Pronunciation?

A significant portion of your speaking score is based on In order to mimic the pronunciation features of a native speaker, you have to be aware of the flow and tempo of your speech, you also have to pay close attention to your tone and intonation.

You can think about it in terms of whether your voice is following the right patterns of speech, is the rhythm of your going up and down in the correct places, and are you speaking at the correct speed.

To do this you can listen to how native English speakers speak. There are many ways in which you can do this by watching  English TV programmes or News channels, or listening to podcasts about topics that interest you This will help acclimatize you to the sounds and unique pronunciations used by speakers. Try getting a hold of the transcripts and repeating what you have just heard, with the same pronunciation and stress. Pay attention to the rhythm and how intonation is used to show attitudes and emphasis. It would be best to record what you say and then listen back to it to see how it compared to the original audio.

You should improve your pronunciation skills before you sit for the exam. However, it is very difficult for second language learners to objectively point out their own weak areas when it comes to productive skills like speaking. This is why the best approach would be to work on your pronunciation with a trusted PTE professional, who can guide on all the best methods and tips to improve your pronunciation.

Which Tone Should You Use For The IELTS Speaking Exam Formal Or Informal?

The IELTS speaking test is designed to be an accurate simulation of a real-life English conversation. Although the setting is somewhat formal, the features of this interview-style conversation are meant to reflect natural-sounding English speech.

Therefore it often surprises me to listen to Asian students practicing for the speaking exam using extremely formal words and phrases. These are usually phrases that a native speaker would never use in real life. This is not because these students actually speak this way. More often than not, they have gotten the wrong impression about the kind of language required for the speaking test, either from their teachers or free IELTS preparation websites.

So Which Tone Should You Use During The IELTS Speaking Test?

Using overly formal and complicated phrases will not impress the examiner in any way. In fact, it will do the opposite, and signal to the examiner that you don’t really understand the criteria for everyday natural English speech. The overuse of formal phrases and discourse markers can actually lower your score for fluency and coherence all the way to a band 6.

Here is a list of commonly use formal phrases and their more appropriate informal counterparts.



Store Name

Store Name

Store Name

Store Name

it is said that….

People say that….

It is agreed that….

I agree….

It is necessary for me to….

I’ve got to…

In my opinion….

I think…

In my view…

I guess….

There is much…

There is lots of….




As well as that….

In addition…

What’s more….


Another thing is….

In consequence….






In conclusion…

All in all…


To begin with…

As a matter of fact….



After that….




Mind you….


By the way….


As for….

It is true….

Of course….

In modern life…

These days…..



On the other side of things, you shouldn’t use slang or collocations either. Remember that this is still an academic interview, so you can't exactly tell your examiner that ‘the party is lit’ It would be better to keep your conversation respectful and polite at all times

How Can You Understand Which Tone To Use

Try to familiarize yourself with typical English conversation in a semi-formal situation like the workplace or at university. Many of the recordings for the IELTS listening practice tests contain similar types of situations, along with useful vocabulary. You can kill two birds with one stone, and prepare for both the speaking and listening section simultaneously. Remember to only use authentic IELTS practice tests that have been endorsed by any of the owners of the IELTS exam.

Can You Cheat On The IELTS Exam?

A successful outcome after taking the IELTS exam can be a life-changing experience. The IELTS exam is a language proficiency test that is a requirement for non-native speakers who want to apply for higher learning at a university or migrate to work in an English-speaking country.

With so much depending on having a good IELTS score, many IELTS students panic and resort to unscrupulous means to get a good score.

It is important to note the cheating of any kind is prohibited. If you are caught trying to alter your score in any way, you could not only be banned from taking the IELTS exam but you could also risk your visa application or university admission.

What Constitutes Cheating

  • Impersonating another person.
  • Letting someone else sit for the exam.
  • Disrupting the conducting of the exam in any way.
  • Alteration of any data on the Test Report Form.
  • Trying to copy answers from another test taker.

Security Measures Taken By The Owners Of The IELTS Exam

To prevent cheating of any form, during the exam, the hosts of the exam have introduced a number of strict measures

IELTS test centers are bound to follow strict security protocols such as biometric, and photographic identification as well as having security cameras record every test and take strict rules about what is allowed in the test room. This ensures that there is no possibility of cheating during the exams. Also your test day photographs will be used on your Test Report Form.

The Consequences Of Cheating

  • If you are caught cheating you will not complete your exam.
  • If it is determined that you have altered your results once you have taken your test, your results will be canceled.
  • Additionally, cheating of any form will force immigration authorities or institutions that you have applied to cancel your applications and prevent you from applying again in the future.
  • You will also not be able to retake the IELTS exam ever again.

The length that some students go to find a way to cheat in the exam or ‘hack it’ always surprises me. They end up wasting valuable time, money, and effort that they could have more wisely used to prepare for the exam.

When you think about it, it's not really worth taking the risk of cheating, when the consequences of getting caught could literally jeopardize your entire future.

In my opinion, it would be better and more productive to invest in finding a good IELTS teacher to guide you and offer you valuable feedback on your weaknesses and strengths, so that you can effectively prepare for the exam, without needing to cheat in order to score well.

Why Complex Sentences Are Important For The IELTS Writing Test

If you are preparing for the IELTS exam then you might already be aware that one of the major areas assessed during the writing test is Grammatical Range and Accuracy. In this article, we will take a detailed look at one of the most components of GRA and that is complex sentences.

What Is Grammatical Range and Accuracy?

Grammatical Range and Accuracy refers to a candidate’s ability to use a wide range of grammatical structures, comfortably and with great accuracy (i.e. very few errors/mistakes)

What Are Complex Sentences?

A complex sentence is a sentence that contains more than one clause. It includes more than one piece of information. For example, Mary is on her way to book her IELTS exam, and she wants to take the computer-based test, but she is not sure if it is available in her country.

This sentence contains three clauses, each giving a different piece of information and these need to be separated correctly by using the correct conjunctions and punctuation.

Mary is on her way to book her IELTS exam, and she wants to take the computer-based test, but she is not sure if it is available in her country.

Why Are Complex Sentences Important?

According to the publicly available IELTS Band descriptors to achieve at least a band 6 for this particular skill, candidates must be able to use a range of complex structures with some flexibility. Meaning that without complex sentences you will probably never score beyond a band 5.

Complex Does Not Mean Complicated!

As we have learnt from the above, complex sentences communicate to us multiple pieces of information and can be divided into a number of clauses. They don’t always have to be overcomplicated. As in the above example, simple conjunctions like ‘but’, ‘so’, and ‘and’ are sufficient to convey information accordingly. Unfortunately, many test takers don’t realise this and use overcomplicated and unnecessarily  long sentences to get their message across. This can end up not only confusing the examiner, but it also increases the chances of errors, which can negatively affect your score. Always remember that using complex sentences should make your writing more effective and engaging, instead of perplexing.

Remember accuracy is just as important, so never overcomplicate things unnecessarily, just to impress the examiner. You might make many mistakes and end up doing just the opposite!

If you feel that your grammatical skills are in any way lacking or you would like to get a clearer understanding of which grammar topics are important for the IELTS exam, I recommend enrolling in an IELTS prep course. It would be far easier to understand your grammar weak areas and improve upon them by taking the assistance of a trusted IELTS professional, who has a better understanding of the grammar rules and structures needed to impress the examiner.