Referencing and IELTS Writing

5 Dec 2019
Referencing and IELTS Writing

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably somewhat familiar with the Writing module of the IELTS. But in case you’re trying to figure out how to start preparing and still don’t know much about how the Writing module is assessed, let’s take a moment to do a quick overview.

The Writing module of IELTS is made up of two tasks: Writing Task 1 and Writing Task 2. These tasks are based on topics of general interest and are both assessed by an IELTS examiner using the following criteria:

  • Task Achievement (Task 1) or Task Response (Task 2)
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy

In this post, we’ll be looking at one very important aspect of coherence and cohesion: referencing.

A quick look at coherence and cohesion

When giving you a score for coherence and cohesion, examiners will focus on how your text is put together. While a coherent text is logical and easy to follow, a cohesive text shows information that has been effectively organized. This is achieved by using appropriate paragraphing, linkers, as well as referencing to avoid repetition.

So what exactly is referencing?

Referencing is when you refer to something stated somewhere else in your text without repeating the same words. There are different ways to reference:

  • by using pronouns

“Technology addiction is a real problem in modern society, not just for adults, but also for teenagers. There are many reasons for this.”

  • by using synonyms

Teenagers’ lives often revolve around their phones. From the internet and social media to apps and games, adolescents simply love going online.”

  • by using substitution

“It is important that young people are given limits when it comes to screen-based activity. To do so, parents should focus on setting limits on recreational screen time.”


Now that you have a better understanding of what referencing is, it’s time to do some practice. Take a minute to read the paragraph below and choose whether to use pronouns, synonyms or substitution in order to improve the text by reducing repetition. When you finish, you can scroll down and compare your answers with the model answer provided.

Naturally, both mothers and fathers are anxious about the effects of excessive screen time on their teenage children. However, many mothers and fathers also struggle with regulating their own screen time, and it is important for mothers and fathers to set a good example for their teenage children. To achieve setting a good example, mothers and fathers should try to spend less time on their cellphones and avoid getting distracted by their cellphones, especially when having a conversation with their teenage children.

Model answer

Naturally, both mothers and fathers are anxious about the effects of excessive screen time on their teenage children. However, many parents also struggle with regulating their own use of technology, and it is important for them to set a good example for their teenagers. To achieve this, parents should try to spend less time on their cellphones and avoid getting distracted by them, especially when having a conversation with their children.

Even though there might be times when you’ll inevitably need to repeat words in your writing, try using referencing and vary your vocabulary as much as possible. Doing so will show the examiner that you have the necessary skills to write a cohesive text


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