There are many common IELTS topics that you frequently see in task 2 of the writing test, and one of those is the topic of crime. Today, we are going to look at a sample essay relating to this subject and I’ll point out some useful ideas in terms of vocabulary and structure.
Analysing the Question
Before you start any IELTS essay, you should spend a moment thinking about the question. This is important because sometimes they can be trickier than they initially appear.
Here’s our question for today:
In many countries, the level of crime is increasing and crimes are becoming more violent.
Why do you think this is and what can be done about it?
Fortunately, this is not a difficult question. The meaning is pretty straightforward and I think most people could grasp what they need to do. Ultimately, you need to do two things:
- Say why crime is increasing in frequency and level of violence
- Suggest some solutions to this problem
This is what’s known as either a “cause and solution essay” or “problem and solution essay.” Either way, you have two parts – either a cause or a problem and then a solution to that problem.
It is important you don’t focus only on one part. Also, in this particular question, don’t overlook the fact that it’s about both rising crime levels and rising violence levels.
This isn’t the easiest question to answer. Actually, it took me a while to think of some good ideas for it because, to the best of my knowledge, crime (and especially violent crime) has actually been decreasing in recent decades! Look at this line graph:
Of course, that’s just for Western Europe, and in some parts of the world the opposite trend can be observed. Here, we can see that some places have, sadly, seen a rise in homicides (that means the same as murder):
Considering the question, I had to think creatively. In those places that I don’t really know about, what factors could have caused rising crime levels and in particular rising violent crime rates?
To answer questions like this, it’s not enough just to be good at English. You need to have a good general knowledge and that means you should read widely, listen to podcasts, watch the news, and become an informed world citizen.
I have a whole article on learning to generate great ideas for IELTS essays.
Structuring your Essay
When it comes to cause and solution essays, I typically structure them like this:
There may be other great ways to structure your essay, but this is my preference. It allows me to write sample answers quickly and effectively, putting forth my position as clearly as possible in a very short time.
Think about it: You have two things to write, so why not put one in each of your body paragraphs? Simple!
I will structure this essay as follows:
|Introduction||Introduce the topic (rising crime rates) |
Briefly outline my essay
|Body paragraph 1||Note that there are different reasons in different places |
Explain why urbanisation may be to blame (lack of accountability and social values)
Other issues: unemployment, drugs, gangs
|Body paragraph 2||Explain that this will not be easy to fix |
Suggestions: policing, sense of community
|Conclusion||Summarise essay thus far|
In this sort of essay, it can be hard to write an introduction and in particular an essay outline. That’s because you aren’t putting forth any opinion and instead you’re hinting at the ideas that you will explain later.
I want to make clear in my essay that this is not an easy situation to explain and that it will also be hard to fix! Don’t worry. You can be honest. It’s better to give a nuanced explanation than to simply say, “We need the government to solve it.” That is simplistic and lacks intelligence.
Finally, remember to include a conclusion that summarises your ideas without repeating them.
Vocabulary about Crime
I have a whole article on the IELTS topic of crime and punishment. It gives lots of vocabulary and even includes a helpful video that can make learning more interesting!
In this essay, I will use the following words and phrases:
|urbanisation||The process of people moving from the country to the city.|
|deterioration of traditional values||Traditional values (ie cultural or familiar ones) are disappearing.|
|crimes rates are plummeting||They are dropping quickly.|
|on the rise||Increasing|
|accountability||The ability (or not) of being held accountable for something.|
|disbands||To be made to fall apart.|
|comparatively anonymous environment||A place where people don’t know each other well.|
|policing||The act of doing police work.|
|stopped at its root||Finding the cause of something and stopping it there before it gets worse.|
|engage in violent crimes||This means to do crime. We can say “engage in” or “commit.”|
|myriad reasons||Many reasons.|
|counteract||To go against something.|
Remember that you can always learn more crime-related vocabulary by searching on Google News or just reading the newspaper each day. I highly recommend that you check out websites such as BBC News and The Guardian. You will see a lot of articles about crime there.
Sample Band 9 Answer
In some parts of the world, crime rates are increasing and the types of crime are becoming more violent. This can be attributed to urbanisation and the deterioration of traditional values and, in order to fix it, societies will need to work to give people more opportunities.
Whilst crimes rates are plummeting in most parts of the world, in some places they are on the rise. Obviously, the reasons for this depend on the individual location, but generally it seems to happen because people are moving from traditional ways of living to big cities. The problem is that, in small communities, people have purpose and accountability. In other words, a young man would be known by all the people in his village and have a job to do in order to contribute to that society. However, when the village disbands and he goes to the big city, it is not easy to make a good living. He might become part of a gang or become addicted to drugs. Without accountability and in the comparatively anonymous environment of the big city, he could easily become engaged in desperate and violent crimes.
Fixing this sort of problem is never easy, but there are various approaches. Certainly, it helps to improve policing but perhaps the problem can be stopped at its root if people are given more education and opportunity. These people would likely not turn to crime if they were supported as part of a community. Again, this is not an easy thing to facilitate, but it is possible through different approaches. Ultimately, the aim needs to be maintaining social values and giving people a sense of responsibility and purpose. When people have these things, they are much less likely to engage in violent crimes.
In conclusion, there are myriad reasons for crime rates increasing but perhaps urbanisation and the loss of traditional values are to blame. Giving people purpose and making them accountable for their own actions could counteract this.
As I mentioned above, I felt surprised that this question talked about rising crime rates but it does make sense when you think that certain countries or parts of countries are indeed experiencing this problem. Thus, I tried to put my feelings forward with careful explanations.
You will see that my body paragraphs are quite complex. That’s because this is not a simple topic. I don’t feel it’s possible to get a band 9 for Task Response without explaining just how complex the causes and solutions to crime are. It is not an easy issue to discuss.
You will see that I’ve avoided any bizarre vocabulary. Long-term readers of this blog will know that such an approach is not helpful. The best thing is to use the right word, whatever that may be. Aim for accuracy rather than obscurity.