Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"
Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"

Linking words are vital on IELTS Speaking and Writing.

The examiner is scoring your ability to link ideas.

Unfortunately, a common mistake is using linking words and phrases incorrectly.

They each have a specific meaning.

Today you’ll learn about linking phrases that are easy to misuse.

We’ll share how to use these high level linking words correctly.

Common mistake

In a recent writing class, Aubrey saw a student error that’s easy to make.

It is made on both Task 1 and Task 2 essays and on the speaking exam.

In this particular instance, it was on Task 1.


In the meanwhile, the number of open businesses increased from 6,000 to 7,000 from 2011 to 2014.

The error is combining two linking phrases which must be used word for word.

In this case, ‘in the meantime’ and ‘meanwhile’ are being combined.

#1: In the meantime

This means ‘until then.’

This is extremely useful on IELTS Speaking.

I’m so busy I have no time for hobbies!

However, in the meantime, I could do something that’s not time consuming like play the piano for ten minutes.

It’s also useful for the Cohesion/Coherence score on IELTS Writing.

It will take eons to see positive change from any government policy.

In the meantime, individuals must take responsibility for their actions.

#2: Meanwhile

This linking phrase means ‘during that time.’

Use in on IELTS speaking!

My best friend Alice distracted me chatting about her day.

Meanwhile, my friend went to the back and brought out a gift they had bought to surprise me!

It’s also useful on IELTS Writing.

Companies are spending exhorbitant amounts of money paying CEO bonuses; meanwhile, the average employee’s salary barely covers their cost of living.

Notice the different punctuation in these two examples.

‘Meanwhile’ must either start a new sentence or follow a semicolon.

#3: While

This linking word means simultaneously; at the same time.

The following example would be perfect for a Task 2 essay.

The chief advantages of studying abroad are that one might learn a new language more quickly while simultaneously expanding one’s ability to empathize with different cultures.

This is also extremely useful on Task 1.

Numbers increased for group 1 while they simultaneously fell for group 2.

#4: Concurrently

This is an adverb that means at the same time.

This is an impressive band 9 linking word.

It is useful everywhere on the IELTS exam.

Task 1 letter

I am able to learn new tasks at light speed while concurrently fulfilling all my daily responsibilities.

Task 2 essay

The new curriculum must be used concurrently with the new teacher training.


You must link your ideas on both IELTS Writing and Speaking.

Linking words and phrases for this are vital for the Cohesion/Coherence score.

However, each has a different meaning and must be used in the correct context.

Using them incorrectly will actually lower your C/C score.

We explicitly teach band 9 linking phrases and how to use them in our online course.

For all the strategies you need, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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