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February 22, 2020


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Hi, Simon, can word 'which' be used in a similar way as well?

Hello Sir,
Can I use THIS as a linking device for 4-5 times in an essay?

Thank you for THIS great post. I learned a lot from reading THIS.

Raman Brar/Gaurav

The IELTS Task 2 assessment criteria for Band 7 include: "uses a range of cohesive devices appropriately although there may be some under-/over-use".

The question then arises: how often is too often, and how seldom is too seldom?

Firstly, let us assume we are discussing a three-hundred-word Task 2 Essay. As a benchmark, one would expect to see the word "the" used about eighteen times (300 words @6% frequency). See the graph below: https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=this+is%2Calthough%2Cit+is%2C%26%2344%3B+which+is%2Cif%2Cthe&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Cthis%20is%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Calthough%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Cit%20is%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2C%2C%20which%20is%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Cif%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Cthe%3B%2Cc0

"And" has a frequency of around 2.5%, so we would expect to see that word come up about seven or eight times in a three-hundred word essay. Other linking words would normally crop up as follows:

but: not more than once
when: once in every other essay
if: once in every three essays

One only of the following (or a similar item) in each essay:

this is
, which is


I am not suggesting that you should slavishly follow these frequencies, nor ration yourself: just use whatever is needed in the context. In fact, I would not go into the exam with the idea that I must use certain words or phrases: it is more important to answer the question.

The other coherence and cohesion criteria are just as important: for Band 7 they read:
-logically organises information and ideas; there is clear progression throughout
-presents a clear central topic within each paragraph

Other IELTS writing criteria state:
-arranges information and ideas coherently and there is a clear overall progression
-presents a clear central topic within
each paragraph.
These are just as (if not more) important. I would not go into the exam with the idea that I must use certain words or phrases. Just answer the question.

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