Sample Answer to Real IELTS Task Two, Saturday June 29th, 2019 (Prison essay)

On Saturday June 29th, the following Task-Two Question appeared in the real IELTS test.

 Task 2

Sending criminals to prison is not the best method of dealing with them. Education and job training are better ways to help them.

To what extend do you agree or disagree.


Notice that this is a Argument Question (that is, there are two sides: agree or disagree – and you need to take a position, or opinion, or side.

This is the most common sort of IELTS Writing Two question.

Here is the sample answer, which follows the model from my Writing Task Two book.


Unfortunately, all human communities suffer from crime, hence, judicial* systems exists to apprehend* and judge those who transgress*, and prisons are built to punish them. But with few signs of crime abating*, different views exists over whether prisons are best, compared to the provision of education and training. My opinion is that such opportunities can never replace the need for long-term incarceration*. Here are my reasons.

Firstly, criminals, especially those who commit heinous* acts, have proven themselves to be unfit for society, and releasing them would be naive* at best, and dangerous at worse. The human animal, unfortunately, can often be irredeemable* and unchangeable. One example in my country was when a former felon* was sent by a Christian charity* to clean houses. However, instead, this man raped and murdered an elderly resident, which shows the latent* dangers lurking* in this system.

Another drawback of replacing prison with education is that it undermines the whole rationale* of the system itself. Re-education is admirable, but a core aspect of justice is punitive* measures, and it betrays society, and especially the victims of crime, to circumvent* this. Capital punishment, for example, is a system allowing absolutely no ‘nice guy’ second chances, and still exists in many countries, notably America, mostly at public insistence.

Many social workers would claim that human beings, when offered reasonable chances, are capable of reform*, and positive contribution to society. This might be true to some extent; however, reading the true intent* which lies in human hearts will always remain impossible. Parole* boards have long struggled to make correct assessment, and often egregiously* failed, whereby those thought to be reformed proved the very opposite, showing that their considered judgements are in reality a form of ‘Russian roulette’*.

[289 words]


Now, there are three separate conclusion. The first is recommended when running out of time (obviously), but the second and third allow more style. Time, however, is the enemy of almost every IELTS candidate, so think seriously about using Conclusion 1 as the most practical alternative [See also p.100 of my IELTS Writing: Task Two book.]


Conclusion 1: the ‘Quick’ Conclusion, connected to the final paragraph.


… illustrating that prison can never be replaced by education and training.

[300 words]



Conclusion 2: the ‘Formal’ Conclusion: being a separate paragraph.

Summing up, prison can never be replaced by education and training. Re-phrasing my opinion.
Trying to do so is a risk, and one which may see horrific* outcomes, which we should never accept.

Final thoughts

1 The first final thoughts uses the ‘condition-result’ pattern, with noun phrases [from ‘If don’t do it’].

1 is a warning.

2 is a suggestion.

3 is a prediction.

Only one of these is used.

It is much better to continue the present system, allowing, for good behaviour, only limited reduction of time served. 2
Hopefully such an uncompromising* perspective will better serve its original purpose, seeing crime rates fall naturally in the future.

[330 words]



Conclusion 3: The ‘Harder’ Conclusion: being a separate paragraph with a summary of the two main points given as noun phrases.

Clearly then, by enhancing public security, and providing the appropriate punishment, prison sentences cannot be replaced by education or training.

[320 words]


Now, use your dictionary to find out the meaning of all the listed vocabulary, and study how it is used in this answer (where all the words are marked with *).


Word Learning Time
judicial (adj)
to apprehend (v)
to transgress (v)
to abate (v)
incarceration (n)
heinous (adj)
naive (adj)
felon (n)
charity (n)
irredeemable (adj)
latent (adj)
to lurk (v)
rationale (n)
punitive (adj)
to circumvent (v)
reform (n)
intent (n)
parole (n)
egregious (adj)
Russian roulette (n)
horrific (adj)
uncompromising (adj)


I hope this helps, and good luck with the IELTS Test.