transitions connectors ielts writing

Cohesive devices/transition words are often misunderstood and misused in the IELTS exam. This guide is full of examples of cohesive devices and advice and practice activities that will help you to understand how to use them effectively in the IELTS test.

1. What are Cohesive Devices?

Cohesive devices, also known as transition words or linking expressions, act as signposting language for your reader and let them know what is coming next. For example, ‘and’ signals that you are going to make an additional point, whereas ‘but’ signposts a contrasting idea.

You can use cohesive devices to link ideas within a sentence using devices like ‘also’ or ‘because’, as well as between sentences using expressions such as ‘In addition…’ or ‘In conclusion…’.

Cohesive devices, when used appropriately, will make up part of your score in Coherence and cohesion which is worth 25% of your overall score for writing.

2. Why are Cohesive Devices Needed in the IELTS Academic Test?

Cohesive devices are frequent in academic writing as one of their other functions is to present and support arguments (writing skills you will have to demonstrate in IELTS academic writing tasks 1 and 2).

To achieve a high band score in the writing marking criteria Coherence and cohesion, you need to:

  • Logically organise information and ideas
  • Create progression throughout your essay/report
  • Use a range of cohesive devices appropriately

IELTS writing correction

3. Types of Cohesive Devices

FunctionCohesive devicesExample sentence
SummaryTo summarise, in conclusion, to sum up, overallIn conclusion, although it is true that university graduates earn more money after graduating, it is not fair for the taxpayer to cover these costs.


First, firstly, in the first place, then, eventually, meanwhile, finallyFirstly, the coffee beans are picked and dried then packaged and sent to supermarkets.
ContrastBut, however, nevertheless, although, although, by comparison, in comparison, on the other hand, in spite of, while, whereasMany drivers obey the highway code whereas some drivers break the rules of the road.
Giving Examples/ RestatingFor example, for instance, that is ( to say), including, in other words, such asSome genres of music have been shown to reduce stress, for example, classical music.
Reasons/ResultsBecause, so, therefore, consequently, due to, as a resultWild elephant populations are declining as a result of illegal poaching.
AdditionAnd, also, in addition, furthermore, moreover, similarlyEating too much sugar can cause diabetes and it has also been linked to other diseases.

4. Practice Using Cohesive Devices

IELTS Transition Words – Use Cohesive Devices


Test your knowledge by completing the sentences below with suitable linking devices.

  1. Smoking cigarettes has been shown to cause lung cancer and it has been linked to other health problems.
  2. Salmon populations are declining rising sea temperatures caused by global warming.
  3. After the recession, banks reduced their lending, and , many businesses closed down.
  4. There is no evidence that genetically modified crops are bad for your health, , many people are still worried about GM food.
  5. Some cyclists obey the rules of the road others choosing to ignore them.
  6. It is difficult to understand why people drink alcohol to excess, all the evidence that suggests this is bad for your health.
  7. If students arrive late to class, , the time of the class and the teacher is wasted.
  8. Contactless is a safe method of payment. , it is a convenient way to pay as you do not have to remember your personal identification number.
  9. The earth’s biodiversity is in danger many species will not be able to adapt to climate change.
  10. It is likely that water will be a scarce resource in the future and, , food production will need to be more efficient.
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