Writing is an 'active' language skill that makes ones grammar level clear and easy to grade and perhaps one of the hardest tasks facing Chinese language students when it comes to passing English tests.
I am not sure if it is because of the difference between English and Chinese – perhaps readers can help me and write in with that answer.
In a test like the IELTS there are four key areas in writing that are looked at, task response (do you answer the question), grammar, vocabulary and coherency and cohesion.
The first three are easier to understand though the last part, coherency and cohesion - this is a real problem for many.
In many cases it is what separates a student crossing over from a lower intermediate into an upper intermediate language user. In many cases it is the hurdle preventing a student from getting into a course overseas.
Obviously this critical area in our writing needs some attention so let's check first of all just what is coherency and cohesion.
From the dictionary coherency - refers to systematic or logical connection or consistency and cohesion the state of sticking together. Put simply it is the ability to make your ideas and words hang well together, which means your phrases are linked, your sentences join correctly with the ones before and after, and in general, the overall structure fits well together.
Now a good starter to build awareness is to do a google search with the word “connectives”. This will bring you up a lot of English language writing websites so try and spend some time surfing through these. If you have more time do a search under “logical connectives” and this will bring you up even more specific examples.
One favorite site I have used previously when working on writing with Chinese students is that from the University of Melbourne. This link, though outdated, provides a good example of some of the key concepts we are looking at here. http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/llsu/resources/esl/gram003.html
Finally, if you can, look beyond this page and start from the top, where they discuss writing structure and essential things like introduction, body, conclusion etc. It may be old news to you but from my experience, revising your writing foundation skills is always useful.
Developing writing skills takes time so try to enjoy this process by writing about what you love and are passionate about.