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Fluency and Coherence in IELTS Speaking

Fluency and Cohesion is one of the four marking criteria in IELTS Speaking test. The other three criteria are:

  • Lexical Resource or Vocabulary

  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy

  • Pronunciation

Each of these criteria bears 25% of your total Speaking marks. That means, if you fail to meet one of these criteria, you will lose 25% marks of the Speaking part. We have given detailed explanations on each of these criteria in their dedicated sections. Here on this page, we are going to discuss everything you need to know for Fluency and Coherence / Cohesion.


Actually, fluency and coherence or cohesion are two different ideas. Both of these are important to give a clear and organised presentation. Fluency is all about how easily or comfortably you can response. It measures the natural pace of your speaking, judges how difficulties you face to express your intended meaning. It does not look at your language or expressions that you need to convey you message. It is coherence or cohesion that notices how logically you present the idea, in other words, how structurally connected is your discussion as a whole. So, the idea is, you need to speak in a natural flow and give a structurally organised message as a whole. Let's see how you can understand your weaknesses and what the best strategies are to overcome your problem areas. 

Ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Can you speak without frequent pauses and repetition?

  2. Is your discussion easy to follow?

If your answer is no to the first question (Can you speak without frequent pauses and repetition?), it would be good to apply some strategies to work on the problem areas. For example:

Improve your everyday vocabulary. You can use various platforms to do this. It can be creating flashcards, making a list of the important words from your reading articles, jotting down the standout language from movies, news reports, interviews, podcasts, and speeches etc.

Try to practice your speaking everyday with friends, family members or whomever you are comfortable with. Actually, you need to speak English everyday whatever it takes, if you do not find anyone to talk to, just stand in front of a mirror and keep talking yourself. The more you speak, the faster you can gain your desired fluency.

Well, just speaking might not be enough. Record your speaking, listen to the recorded one, identify the problem areas, work on them and record again by responding to a real exam question. This is how you can improve your fluency.

On the other hand, if your answer to the second question (Is your discussion easy to follow?) is no, you could apply the following strategies to improve this section:

Learn some linking words and phrases to connect the ideas, rather than using the same ones multiple times frequently. In fact, the more you develop your repertoire with different connecting words, the more cohesive discussion it will be.

In addition, try to use pronouns smartly, rather than using the same noun frequently. This is important to give a convincing response.

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