Discourse Coherence (SpeechRater™ Dimension)

Discourse Coherence (TOEFL® Speaking)

What’s Inside?

Table of Contents

Discourse Coherence in TOEFL® Speaking section, refers to your ability to express your ideas in a clear and logical manner.

This means that you should use cohesive devices, such as pronouns and conjunctions, to connect your ideas and create a clear flow of thought.

Additionally, you should organize your ideas into a logical structure that is easy for the listener to follow.

A speaker with good Discourse Coherence will be able to effectively communicate their ideas and make their speech easy to understand.

What is Discourse Coherence in TOEFL® Speaking?​

Discourse Coherence (DC) in TOEFL® Speaking is the only SpeechRater™ indicator of your topic development skills.

DC is a measure of how how well the ideas in your responses are connected to each other.

Stronger speakers tend to

  • Have coherence in their speech.
  • Present ideas and supporting details that are relevant to each other.

Your Discourse Coherence Score​

Your Discourse Coherence score is calculated based on the coherence between your statements.

DC is scored out of 100. Your score is indicated by the “You are here” line.

  • This response outscored 53% of the test takers in ETS’s database.
  • 47% of the responses scored higher in this one dimension.
  • This response is consistent with other TOEFL Speaking responses in the 40-60 range.

Tip: Learn more about how to read My Speaking Score charts, including the Impact score and what the coloured bars mean, in our knowledge base.

Why You Should Care

  • Those who score 26+ on TOEFL Speaking have an average DC score of 78.45.
  • DC is one of the mild predictors of your overall TOEFL speaking score.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Is The Discourse Coherence Score Calculated?

The Discourse Coherence (DC) score in the TOEFL® Speaking section is evaluated using the SpeechRater™, an automated scoring system. This system analyzes the linguistic and structural elements of your speech, focusing on how well your ideas are connected. The scoring algorithm considers the use of transitional phrases, the logical flow of ideas, and the relevance of supporting details to the main topic. Each of these aspects contributes to a composite score out of 100, reflecting the overall coherence of your speech.


What Are Some Examples Of Cohesive Devices And How Can They Be Effectively Used In TOEFL® Speaking Responses?

Cohesive devices are linguistic tools that help connect sentences and ideas smoothly, making your speech more coherent and easier to follow. Examples include:

  • Conjunctions (“and,” “but,” “therefore”) to connect clauses or sentences.
  • Pronouns (“he,” “she,” “it,” “they”) to avoid repetition and link sentences.
  • Adverbials (“however,” “moreover,” “subsequently”) to indicate the relationship between ideas.

To use these devices effectively, start by planning your response with a clear structure in mind: introduce your main idea, follow with supporting details, and conclude with a summary or restatement of your main point. Use conjunctions to show cause and effect, contrast, or addition. Employ pronouns to maintain focus on your subjects without unnecessary repetition. Adverbials can help signal shifts in your argument or introduce additional points. Practice incorporating these devices in your spoken responses to enhance the flow and clarity of your ideas.

Are There Any Specific Strategies Or Exercises To Improve Discourse Coherence In Speaking?

Improving Discourse Coherence requires practice and strategy. Here are some tips and exercises to help:

  • Outline Your Ideas Before Speaking: Take a moment to jot down the main points and supporting details you want to include. This helps ensure a logical flow and keeps you on track.
  • Practice with Transitions: Make a list of transitional phrases and practice incorporating them into your responses. This will help you connect ideas more naturally.
  • Record and Review: Record your practice responses and listen back to identify gaps or abrupt shifts in your speech. Pay attention to how well your ideas are connected and whether your speech follows a logical order.
  • Peer Review: Practice speaking with a partner and provide each other with feedback on the use of cohesive devices and the overall coherence of your responses.
  • Read Aloud: Reading texts aloud can improve your sense of flow and coherence. Pay attention to how authors use cohesive devices to link ideas and try to emulate this in your speaking.

Check out our blog to learn more about how to improve your score in other dimensions!