This study investigates the roles of cohesion and coherence in evaluations of essay quality. Cohesion generally has a facilitative effect on text comprehension and is assumed to be related to essay coherence. By contrast, recent studies of essay writing have demonstrated that computational indices of cohesion are not predictive of evaluations of writing quality. This study investigates expert ratings of individual text features, including coherence, in order to examine their relation to evaluations of holistic essay quality. The results suggest that coherence is an important attribute of overall essay quality, but that expert raters evaluate coherence based on the absence of cohesive cues in the essays rather than their presence. This finding has important implications for text understanding and the role of coherence in writing quality.