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Writing
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Sequencers

Sequencers are one type of cohesive device, which in turn is part of cohesion, in the Coherence and Cohesion (CC) marking criteria, for both writing task 1 and 2.

There are many different names used to describe cohesive devices: discourse markers, linking words, transitional words and phrases, or connectors.

Sequencers

Their function is to help indicate to the reader, relationships, and connections that exist within and between the various paragraphs, sentences and clauses. This assists them to navigate their way through the text efficiently if used correctly. Another way to look at cohesive devices is to view them as words and phrases that act as the glue, holding everything together, and putting the speech into a logical, ordered, and flowing structure.

It is impossible to effectively write about an event or series of events without, putting them into the order in which they occurred.

Sequencers are just one of several types of cohesive devices or features. They include words and phrases such as, ‘then’, ‘before’, 'initially', 'to start with', 'next', 'eventually', 'lastly’, ‘finally’, ‘during’, ‘after’, ‘on completion’, ‘subsequently’, etc.

Let us look at a series of events and try to put them into a cohesive structure without using any sequencers.

'I travelled to Paris. I visited the Eifel Tower. I had dinner at a fantastic restaurant. I walked along the river, to my hotel. I got up early for breakfast. I went shopping at an antique’s market. I bought a beautiful antique picture frame. I got the train home.'

Such writing is very boring to read. It does not flow or connect the sentences together. Basically, it is a list!

Now let’s add some sequencers!

'I travelled to Paris during the summer holidays. On my first day, I visited the Eifel Tower, after which, I had dinner at a fantastic restaurant, followed by a walk along the river, to my hotel. The next morning I got up early for breakfast, then went shopping at an antique’s market, where I bought a beautiful antique picture frame. In the evening, I got the train home.'

This is much easier to read, as everything flows smoothly, and logically.

CC accounts for 25% of the total marks for both task 1 and 2. Sequencers are one of the several cohesive devices that an examiner is looking for. Where there is little use of sequencers, the CC score falls into a level 3 band. Therefore, it is vital to use them!

However, ensure that they are used correctly, and never overused. Incorrect use can result in a 3 or 4 band CC score! Overuse usually leads to mistakes, but it can also result in a reduced Lexical Resource (LR) band, due to repetition, or lack of flexibility in word choice!

A common mistake that IELTS candidates make is to use words or phrases, which they do not fully understand. They know that it is essential to use an extensive range of words or phrases, to achieve a high LR band score. The problem is, if used incorrectly, this will damage their CC score, and possibly negatively impact on LR and Grammatical Range & Accuracy scores.

The simple rule to follow is, to never use words, phrases, and idioms, etc. that you are not 100% familiar with. This does not mean you just know what they mean, but also know exactly how and when to use them in a sentence.


Also remember to use the other important IELTS writing cohesive devices, as indicated below:

Reference & Substitution

Introductory Markers

Linking Devices

Note: Reference and Substitution are specifically referred to in the CC band descriptor marking criteria, and not just included in cohesive devices. Thus, special attention should be made to ensure they are used!

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