Cohesion is one of those words which many people (including native English speakers!) are not really sure about the meaning. We will provide some simple explanations helping you to understand the meaning and importance of cohesion in OET writing. We will then have a look at some cohesive devices and phrases you can use to ensure that you achieve an excellent score when it comes to cohesion in your OET letter.

What is cohesion?

Some dictionary definitions of cohesion include:

  • The action or fact of forming a united whole.
  • The act or state of keeping together.

The word cohesion is often used in a scientific sense, for example how molecules bond, or in a social sense regarding to how societies or communities link together. By now, you will have spotted the theme. Cohesion is about linking different parts to create a whole. A piece of writing needs cohesion for exactly the same reason.

In order to connect the different aspects of your OET letter, sentences need to be linked to one another within paragraphs and paragraphs need to be linked to form the whole letter. This enables the letter to flow, gives it a professional tone and helps to provide structure.

OET Writing
Ultimately, using cohesive devices also makes the information more accessible and coherent which is important for medical writing which needs to get the key information from the case notes across as efficiently as possible.

What are cohesive devices and how can we use them in OET writing?

Cohesive devices to introduce paragraphs and sentences

There are certain phrases that we can use at the beginning of a paragraph or sentence that both introduce new ideas and link to previous ones, providing a structured flow of information.

These usually come in the form of subordinating clauses or adverbial phrases. Some introduce and some link back. Have a look at the examples below:

  • During today’s visit, Mr Brown presented with…
  • Initially, the patient had concerns of…
  • In view of the above, I have recommended…
  • As the baby is refusing feeds,
  • In terms of her medical history,
  • Two weeks later,
  • On examination,
  • On review today,

And some more general sentence starters/linkers:

  • Fortunately,
  • Regrettably,
  • Consequently,
  • As a result,
  • Therefore,
  • Accordingly,

Cohesive devices within sentences

Sentences themselves need to flow as well as the flow within a paragraph and the letter as a whole. When we think about cohesion within sentences, we are really talking about using connecters and connecting phrases. We have a fantastic article about using connectors in the best way for OET writing so check that out to find out more.

A great way to become more familiar with cohesive devices is to read formal writing. Have a try at reading some articles from medical journals in your field and underline the cohesive devices. Now, create a toolkit of your own sentence and paragraph openers/linkers and start putting them into practice in your sample tasks.

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