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This is an IELTS writing task 2 sample answer essay on the topic of whether or not companies should focus on making sure employees follow a dress code from the real IELTS exam.

Please consider supporting me on Patreon.com/howtodoielts to receive my exclusive IELTS Ebooks – you can even sign up for private live lessons with me!

Dave

IELTS Essay: Warnings Not Punishment

In many situations, people who break the law should be warned instead of punished.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Some feel that law-breakers ought to be entitled to a warning instead of strict sanctions. I largely disagree with this sentiment as punishment is crucial for society at large.

Those who argue in favor of warnings claim that incarceration encourages a cycle of criminal behavior. For example, if an individual is arrested for a low-level narcotics offense, there is a strong chance the incident will become part of their permanent record. This then makes it more difficult to apply for jobs or seek higher education. If the perpetrator in question also spends time in prison as a result, they may have made connections among the prisoner population. All these factors combine to increase the likelihood of committing crimes in the future since other avenues have become restricted. If the offense is insignificant, the punishment appears to do more harm than good.

Though the policy detailed above is logical for very minor infractions, punishment is needed for most crimes. The various justifications for punishment typically include deterrence, rehabilitation, public safety and justice itself. Of these, deterrence is the most often cited and effective. Most potential criminals do not commit crimes because they are aware of the punishments and this ensures a minimum degree of public safety. If a person knew they would only receive a warning for a more serious infraction, then there would almost undoubtedly be more crime. Even in the case of negligible offenses, stronger punishments that are not part of one’s permanent record would better curb future criminality.

In conclusion, though warnings may be preferable for certain minor crimes, the principle of deterrence justifies punishment. If a system of warnings were combined with other measures, such as improved education and mental health support, this reform would be more feasible.

Analysis

1. Some feel that law-breakers ought to be entitled to a warning instead of strict sanctions. 2. I largely disagree with this sentiment as punishment is crucial for society at large.

  1. Paraphrase the overall essay topic.
  2. Write a clear opinion. Read more about introductions here.

1. Those who argue in favor of warnings claim that incarceration encourages a cycle of criminal behavior. 2. For example, if an individual is arrested for a low-level narcotics offense, there is a strong chance the incident will become part of their permanent record. 3. This then makes it more difficult to apply for jobs or seek higher education. 4. If the perpetrator in question also spends time in prison as a result, they may have made connections among the prisoner population. 5. All these factors combine to increase the likelihood of committing crimes in the future since other avenues have become restricted. 6. If the offense is insignificant, the punishment appears to do more harm than good.

  1. Write a topic sentence with a clear main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your main idea.
  3. Develop it with specific or hypothetical examples.
  4. Keep developing it fully.
  5. Extend with some long sentences as well.
  6. Finish this main idea.

1. Though the policy detailed above is logical for very minor infractions, punishment is needed for most crimes. 2. The various justifications for punishment typically include deterrence, rehabilitation, public safety and justice itself. 3. Of these, deterrence is the most often cited and effective. 4. Most potential criminals do not commit crimes because they are aware of the punishments and this ensures a minimum degree of public safety. 5. If a person knew they would only receive a warning for a more serious infraction, then there would almost undoubtedly be more crime. 6. Even in the case of negligible offenses, stronger punishments that are not part of one’s permanent record would better curb future criminality.

  1. Write a new topic sentence with a new main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your new main idea.
  3. Include specific details and examples.
  4. Continue developing it…
  5. as fully as possible!
  6. Continue the hypothetical example.

1. In conclusion, though warnings may be preferable for certain minor crimes, the principle of deterrence justifies punishment. 2. If a system of warnings were combined with other measures, such as improved education and mental health support, this reform would be more feasible.

  1. Summarise your main ideas.
  2. Include a final thought. Read more about conclusions here.

Vocabulary

What do the words in bold below mean? Make some notes on paper to aid memory and then check below.

Some feel that law-breakers ought to be entitled to a warning instead of strict sanctions. I largely disagree with this sentiment as punishment is crucial for society at large.

Those who argue in favor of warnings claim that incarceration encourages a cycle of criminal behavior. For example, if an individual is arrested for a low-level narcotics offense, there is a strong chance the incident will become part of their permanent record. This then makes it more difficult to apply for jobs or seek higher education. If the perpetrator in question also spends time in prison as a result, they may have made connections among the prisoner population. All these factors combine to increase the likelihood of committing crimes in the future since other avenues have become restricted. If the offense is insignificant, the punishment appears to do more harm than good.

Though the policy detailed above is logical for very minor infractions, punishment is needed for most crimes. The various justifications for punishment typically include deterrence, rehabilitation, public safety and justice itself. Of these, deterrence is the most often cited and effective. Most potential criminals do not commit crimes because they are aware of the punishments and this ensures a minimum degree of public safety. If a person knew they would only receive a warning for a more serious infraction, then there would almost undoubtedly be more crime. Even in the case of negligible offenses, stronger punishments that are not part of one’s permanent record would better curb future criminality.

In conclusion, though warnings may be preferable for certain minor crimes, the principle of deterrence justifies punishment. If a system of warnings were combined with other measures, such as improved education and mental health support, this reform would be more feasible.

Answers

For extra practice, write an antonym (opposite word) on a piece of paper to help you remember the new vocabulary:

law-breakers criminals

ought to should

entitled deserve to have

warning caution, not a formal punishment

strict sanctions severe punishments

largely mostly

sentiment belief

punishment sanction

crucial important

society at large the public generally

argue claim

in favor of supporting

claim argue

incarceration being in prison

encourages motivates

cycle of criminal behavior people continuing to commit crimes

arrested put in prison

low-level narcotics offense small crime related to drugs

strong chance very likely

incident example

permanent record criminal files

apply for jobs try to get work

seek higher education apply for college, university

perpetrator in question criminal being talked about

spends time in prison be incarcerated

as a result the consequence is that

connections among bonds with

prisoner population people in prison

factors combine elements add up to

increase the likelihood greater chance of

other avenues different routes

restricted limited

offense crime

insignificant not important

punishment appears sanctions seem to be

more harm than good hurts more than it helps

policy detailed above reform mentioned before

logical rational

minor infractions small crimes

justifications rationalizations

typically usually

include have

deterrence make others afraid of committing a crime

rehabilitation improve

public safety guarding society

justice fairness, restoring balance

most often cited usually mentioned

effective works

potential possible

aware know about

ensures guarantees

minimum degree of public safety at least some safety

receive get

infraction breaking the rules

undoubtedly definitely

even in the case of negligible offenses also when they are minor crimes

better curb improved control

future criminality continue to commit crimes

preferable better

principle ethic, idea

justifies makes it a good idea

system programs

combined with other measures put together with other methods

improved education better learning

mental health support psychological help

reform change

feasible will work

Pronunciation

Practice saying the vocabulary below and use this tip about Google voice search:

ˈlɔːˌbreɪkəz 
ɔːt tuː 
ɪnˈtaɪtld 
ˈwɔːnɪŋ 
strɪkt ˈsæŋkʃənz
ˈlɑːʤli 
ˈsɛntɪmənt 
ˈpʌnɪʃmənt 
ˈkruːʃəl 
səˈsaɪəti æt lɑːʤ
ˈɑːgjuː 
ɪn ˈfeɪvər ɒv 
kleɪm 
ɪnˌkɑːsəˈreɪʃən 
ɪnˈkʌrɪʤɪz 
ˈsaɪkl ɒv ˈkrɪmɪnl bɪˈheɪvjə
əˈrɛstɪd 
ləʊ-ˈlɛvl nɑːˈkɒtɪks əˈfɛns
strɒŋ ʧɑːns 
ˈɪnsɪdənt 
ˈpɜːmənənt ˈrɛkɔːd
əˈplaɪ fɔː ʤɒbz 
siːk ˈhaɪər ˌɛdju(ː)ˈkeɪʃən
ˈpɜːpɪtreɪtər ɪn ˈkwɛsʧən 
spɛndz taɪm ɪn ˈprɪzn 
æz ə rɪˈzʌlt
kəˈnɛkʃənz əˈmʌŋ 
ˈprɪznə ˌpɒpjʊˈleɪʃən
ˈfæktəz ˈkɒmbaɪn 
ˈɪnkriːs ðə ˈlaɪklɪhʊd 
ˈʌðər ˈævɪnjuːz 
rɪsˈtrɪktɪd
əˈfɛns 
ˌɪnsɪgˈnɪfɪkənt
ˈpʌnɪʃmənt əˈpɪəz 
mɔː hɑːm ðæn gʊd.
ˈpɒlɪsi ˈdiːteɪld əˈbʌv 
ˈlɒʤɪkəl 
ˈmaɪnər ɪnˈfrækʃənz
ˌʤʌstɪfɪˈkeɪʃənz 
ˈtɪpɪk(ə)li 
ɪnˈkluːd 
dɪˈtɛrəns
ˌriːəˌbɪlɪˈteɪʃən
ˈpʌblɪk ˈseɪfti 
ˈʤʌstɪs 
məʊst ˈɒf(ə)n ˈsaɪtɪd 
ɪˈfɛktɪv
pəʊˈtɛnʃəl 
əˈweə 
ɪnˈʃʊəz 
ˈmɪnɪməm dɪˈgriː ɒv ˈpʌblɪk ˈseɪfti
rɪˈsiːv 
ɪnˈfrækʃən
ʌnˈdaʊtɪdli 
ˈiːvən ɪn ðə keɪs ɒv ˈnɛglɪʤəbl əˈfɛnsɪz
ˈbɛtə kɜːb 
ˈfjuːʧə ˌkrɪmɪˈnælɪti
ˈprɛfərəbl 
ˈprɪnsəpl 
ˈʤʌstɪfaɪz 
ˈsɪstɪm 
kəmˈbaɪnd wɪð ˈʌðə ˈmɛʒəz
ɪmˈpruːvd ˌɛdju(ː)ˈkeɪʃən 
ˈmɛntl hɛlθ səˈpɔːt
ˌriːˈfɔːm 
ˈfiːzəbl

Vocabulary Practice

I recommend getting a pencil and piece of paper because that aids memory. Then write down the missing vocabulary from my sample answer in your notebook:

Some feel that l_________________s o___________o be e__________d to a w________g instead of s__________________s. I l__________y disagree with this s_____________t as p_______________t is c_________l for s_________________e.

Those who a________e i______________f warnings c________m that i__________________n e_____________s a c____________________________r. For example, if an individual is a_____________d for a l___________________________e, there is a s_________________e the i_____________t will become part of their p_____________________d. This then makes it more difficult to a_________________s or s______________________n. If the p_____________________n also s_________________________________t, they may have made c_______________________g the p_________________n. All these f___________________e to i_________________________d of committing crimes in the future since o___________________s have become r____________d. If the o__________e is i__________________t, the p___________________s to do m__________________________d.

Though the p_______________________e is l__________l for very m__________________s, punishment is needed for most crimes. The various j_________________s for punishment t____________y i__________e d______________e, r_______________n, p_____________y and j_________e itself. Of these, deterrence is the m________________d and e___________e. Most p____________l criminals do not commit crimes because they are a________e of the punishments and this e___________s a m____________________________y. If a person knew they would only r____________e a warning for a more serious i___________n, then there would almost u______________y be more crime. E____________________________________s, stronger punishments that are not part of one’s permanent record would b_____________________________y.

In conclusion, though warnings may be p____________e for certain minor crimes, the p_____________e of deterrence j____________s punishment. If a s__________m of warnings were c__________________h o___________________s, such as i_______________________n and m_________________________t, this r_________m would be more f_____________e.

Listening Practice

Learn more about this topic by watching videos from The New York Times YouTube channel below and practice with these activities:

Reading Practice

Read more about this topic and use these ideas to practice:

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1985/11/punishment-versus-discipline/304097/

Speaking Practice

Practice with the following speaking questions from the real IELTS speaking exam:

Truth in Crime

  1. Why do witnesses of crimes sometimes disagree in their accounts?
  2. How can modern technology help solve crimes?
  3. Will teaching children to be honest reduce crime in the future?
  4. Should there be more severe penalties for crimes like libel?
  5. How will the detection of lies change in the future?

Writing Practice

Practice with the related IELTS essay topic below:

Some people believe that there should be a fixed punishment for each type of crime. Others, however, argue that the circumstances of an individual crime, and the motivation for committing it, should always be taken into account when deciding on the punishment.

Discuss both views and give your own opinion. 


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