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How to Plan & Write IELTS Problem Solution Essays

IELTS problem solution essays are the most challenging essay type for many people. The way they are worded can vary hugely which can make it difficult to understand how you should answer the question.

Generally, you’ll be asked to write about both the problem, or cause, and the solution to a specific issue. Sometimes, however, you will only be required to write about possible solutions.

The 3 essay types:

  • Problem and solution
  • Cause and solution
  • Just the solution

Hence, it’s essential that you analyse the question carefully, which I’ll show you how to do in this lesson. I’m also going to demonstrate step-by-step how to plan and write IELTS problem solution essays.

Here’s what we’ll be covering:

  • Identifying IELTS problem solution essays 
  • 6 Common mistakes
  • Essay structure
  • How to plan
  • How to write an introduction
  • How to write main body paragraphs
  • How to write a conclusion

Want  to watch and listen to this lesson?

Click on this video.

Click the links to see lessons on each of these Task 2 essay writing topics. 

Once you understand the process, practice on past questions. Take your time at first and gradually speed up until you can plan and write an essay of at least 250 words in the 40 minutes allowed in the exam.

The Question

Here are two typical IELTS problem solution essay questions. They consist of a statement followed by the question or instruction.

1. One problem faced by almost every large city is traffic congestion.

What do you think the causes are? What solutions can you suggest?

2. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the number of endangered species has increased significantly and we have witnessed more mass extinctions in this period than in any other period of time.

State some reasons for this and provide possible solutions.

These are some examples of different ways in which questions can be phrased. The first half of the questions relate to the problem or cause, the second half to the solution.

What issues does this cause and how can they be addressed?

What are some resulting social problems and how can we deal with them?

What problems arise from this and how can they be tackled?

Why is this? How might it be remedied?

What are the reasons for this, and how can the situation be improved?

Why is this happening, and what measures can be taken to tackle this problem?

And here are a few questions where you only have to write about the solution.

How can this situation be improved?

What solutions can you suggest to deal with this problem?

How can this problem be solved?

What measures could be taken to prevent this?

It’s important that you are able to recognise the common synonyms, words and phrases used in problem solution questions. Here are the key words and their synonyms used in the questions above.

  • Problem  – issues, resulting, situation
  • Cause  – reasons, why
  • Solution  – deal with, addressed, tackled, remedied, improved, measures taken, solved, prevent

Before we move on to some common mistakes, I want to quickly explain the difference between a problem and a cause. Read the following examples.

Problem – I've missed the last bus home after visiting my friend for the evening.

Cause – I misread the timetable and thought the bus left at 22.45 when it actually left at 22.35.

The ‘cause’ is the reason for the ‘problem’.  We’ll be looking at question analysis in more detail in a minute.

6 Common Mistakes

These six errors are common in IELTS problem solution essays.

  • Confusing problem and causes questions.
  • Having too many ideas.
  • Not developing your ideas.
  • Not developing both sides of the argument equally.
  • Not linking the problems and solutions.
  • Not being specific enough.

It is common for an essay to consist of a list of problems and solutions without any of them being expanded on or linked to each other. Sometimes, a student will focus on just the problem or only the solution which leads to an unbalanced essay. Both these issues will result in a low score for task achievement.

You must choose just one or two problems and pick solutions directly linked to them. Explain them and give examples.

Another serious error is to write generally about the topic. You need to be very specific with your ideas. Analysing the question properly is essential to avoiding this mistake. I’ll show you how to do this.

Essay Structure

Now let’s look at a simple structure you can use to write IELTS problem solution essays. It’s not the only possible structure but it’s the one I recommend because it’s easy to learn and will enable you to quickly plan and write a high-level essay.

1)  Introduction

  • Paraphrase the question
  • State 1 key problem/cause and related solution

2)  Main body paragraph 1 – Problem or Cause

  • Topic sentence – state the problem or cause
  • Explanation – give detail explaining the problem or cause
  • Example – give an example

3)  Main body paragraph 2 – Solution

  • Topic sentence – state the solution
  • Explanation – give detail explaining the solution

4)  Conclusion

  • Summarise the key points 

This structure will give us a well-balanced essay with 4 paragraphs.

One Problem/Cause & Solution or Two?

Most questions will state problems, causes and solutions in the plural, that is, more than one. However, it is acceptable to write about just one.

This will give you an essay of just over the minimum 250 words. To write about two problems/causes and solutions will require you to write between 350 and 400 words which are a lot to plan and write in the 40 minutes allowed.

It is better to fully develop one problem/cause and solution than ending up with one idea missing an explanation or an example because you run out of time.

The step-by-step essay structure I’m going to show you includes one problem and solution but you can write about two if you feel able to or more comfortable doing so.

How To Plan IELTS Problem Solution Essays

Here’s the question we’re going to be answering in our model essay followed by the 3 steps of the planning process.

One problem faced by almost every large city is traffic congestion.

What do you think the causes are? What solutions can you sugge st?

  • Analyse the question
  • Generate ideas
  • Identify vocabulary

# 1  Analyse the question

This is an essential step in the planning process and will ensure that you answer the question fully. It’s quick and easy to do. You just need to identify 3 different types of words:

1. Topic words

2.  Other keywords

3.  Instruction words

Topics words are the ones that identify the general subject of the question and will be found in the statement part of the question.

One problem faced by almost every large city is traffic congestion .

So, this question is about ‘ traffic congestion’ .

Many people will do this first step of the process and then write about the topic in general. This is a serious mistake and leads to low marks for task achievement.

What we need to do now that we know the general topic, is to understand exactly what aspect of traffic congestion we're being asked to write about.

The  other keywords  in the question tell you the specific topic you must write about. 

By highlighting these words, it’s easy to see that you are being asked to write about the problem of traffic congestion in large cities. Your essay must only include ideas relevant to these ideas.

The instruction words are the question itself. These tell you the type of IELTS problem solution essay you must write. This is a ‘causes and solutions’ question.

# 2  Generate ideas

The next task is to generate some ideas to write about.

There are several different ways to think up ideas. I cover them fully on the  IELTS Essay Planning  page.

We’re going to use the ‘friends technique’. This is the method I prefer as it allows you to take a step back from the stress of the exam situation and think more calmly.

Here’s how it works. Imagine that you are chatting with a friend over a cup of coffee and they ask you this question. What are the first thoughts to come into your head? Plan your essay around these ideas.

Doing this will help you to come up with simple answers in everyday language rather than straining your brain to think of amazing ideas using high-level language, which isn’t necessary.

You might want to try this yourself before reading on for my ideas.

Here are my ideas:

  • Too many cars on the roads – increasing numbers of people own cars, more convenient than buses & trains
  • Inadequate public transport – crowded, old & dirty
  • Poor road layout
  • Rush hour traffic – most people travel to & from work at the same times each day
  • Car sharing, park-and-ride scheme, congestion charge
  • Improve public transport – more frequent and better quality
  • Improve infrastructure – bus lanes, cycle lanes will make it safer for people to cycle
  • Flexible working hours

For each cause you think of, immediately write down a possible solution. This you will ensure that the problems and solutions you think of are linked.

You don’t need to spend long on this as you only need one or two ideas.

I’ve got more far more ideas here than I need as I spent more time thinking about it that I would in the real exam. I’m going to pick just one cause to develop in the essay and one or two solutions.

My advice on making your selection is to choose ideas you can quickly think of an example to illustrate.

Here are my choices:

Cause  – Too many cars on the roads.  Why? – increasing numbers of people own cars, more convenient than buses & trains

Solution  – Park-and-ride schemes

We’re almost ready to start writing our IELTS problem solution essay but first, we have one more task to do.

# 3  Vocabulary

During the planning stage, quickly jot down some vocabulary that comes to mind as you decide which cause and solution you are going to write about, especially synonyms of key words. This will save you having to stop and think of the right language while you’re writing. For example:

  • traffic jam
  • heavy traffic
  • private transport
  • infrastructure

With that done, we can focus on the first paragraph of the essay – the introduction.

How To Write an Introduction

Good  introductions to IELTS problem solution essays have a simple 2 part structure:

  • State 1 key problem/cause and related solution/s (outline sentence)
  • Have 2-3 sentences
  • Be 40-60 words long
  • Take 5 minutes to write

1)  Paraphrase the question

Start your introduction by paraphrasing the question.

Question: One problem faced by almost every large city is traffic congestion.

                  What do you think the causes are? What solutions can you suggest?

Paraphrased question:  

O ne of the most serious issues facing the majority of large urban areas is traffic jams.  

Note my use of synonyms to replace key words in the question statement. You don’t have to replace every key word but do so where possible whilst ensuring that your language sounds natural.

2)  Outline statement

Now we need to add an  outline statement  where we outline the two main points that we’ll cover in the rest of the essay, that is, the cause and the solution I chose earlier. Here they are again.

Cause  – Too many cars on the roads.  Why? – increasing numbers of people own cars, more convenient than buses & trains

And, this is one way to develop them into an outline sentence.

Outline statement:

The main reason for this is that there are too many private cars on the roads these days and a viable solution is to introduce more park-and-ride schemes.

So, let’s bring the two elements of our introduction together.

     Introduction

problem solving essay structure

This introduction achieves three important functions:

  • It shows the examiner that you understand the question.
  • It acts as a guide to the examiner as to what your essay is about.
  • It also helps to keep you focused and on track as you write.

The two ideas in your introduction will become your two main body paragraphs.

Main body paragraph 1  –  Too many cars on the roads  

Main body paragraph 2  –  Park-and-ride schemes

How To Write Main Body Paragraphs

Main body paragraphs in IELTS problem solution essays should contain 3 things:

  • Topic sentence – outline the main idea
  • Explanation – explain it and g ive more detail

Main Body Paragraph 1

The  topic sentence  summarises the main idea of the paragraph. That’s all it needs to do so it doesn’t have to be complicated.

It plays an important role in ensuring that your ideas flow logically from one to another. It does this by acting as a signpost for what is to come next, that is, what the paragraph will be about.

If you maintain a clear development of ideas throughout your essay, you will get high marks for task achievement and cohesion and coherence.

We’ll now take the idea for our first main body paragraph and create our topic sentence.

Obviously, we’re going to write about the cause of the problem first.

Main body paragraph 1  –  Too many cars on the roads 

Topic sentence:  

The number of people owning cars increases year on year, with most families now having more than one car. 

Next, we must write an  explanation sentence  that develops the idea.

Explanation sentence: 

Most people like the convenience of travelling at the time they want to rather than being restricted to public transport timetables, so they prefer to drive themselves around rather than taking the bus or train. This is despite the fact that they frequently have to sit in long traffic queues as they near the city centre.

Finally, we add an  example  to support our main point. If you can’t think of a real example, it’s fine to make one up, as long as it’s believable. The examiner isn’t going to check your facts. Alternative, you could add another piece of information to support your idea.

Example sentence:

Whenever I have to attend a meeting in the city, I always drive because it means that I can leave home when I want to rather than getting stressed about getting to the station in time to catch the train.

That’s the 3 parts of our first main body paragraph complete. Here’s the finished paragraph.

problem solving essay structure

We now follow the same process for our second main body paragraph.

Main Body Paragraph 2

Main idea 2  –   Park-and-ride schemes

First, we write the  topic sentence  to summarise the main idea. 

Topic sentence:

A solution that is proving successful in many areas is park-and-ride schemes.

Now for the  explanation sentence  where we expand on this idea.

Explanation sentence:

This is where you park your car for free in a large car park on the outskirts of the city and take a bus for the final part of your journey. The fee you have to pay for the bus trip is usually very small and this public transport system is generally very regular, running every ten minutes or so.

Finally, an  example  to support this point.

A survey carried out in the city of Exeter showed that the rush hour congestion decreased by 10% when the council set up a park-and-ride scheme to the north of the city. There was an additional drop of another 10% in traffic volume when a second scheme began operating to the south.

That’s the 3 parts of our second main body paragraph complete. Here’s the finished paragraph.

problem solving essay structure

Now we need a conclusion and our IELTS problem solution essay is done.

How To Write a Conclusion

The conclusion is a summary of the main points in your essay and can generally be done in a single sentence. It should never introduce new ideas.

If you're below the minimum 250 words after you’ve written your conclusion, you can add a prediction or recommendation statement.

Our essay is already over the minimum word limit so we don’t need this extra sentence  but you can learn more about how to write a prediction or recommendation statement for IELTS problem solution essays on the Task 2 Conclusions page.

The conclusion is the easiest sentence in the essay to write but one of the most important.

A good conclusion will:

  • Neatly end the essay
  • Link all your ideas together
  • Sum up your argument or opinion
  • Answer the question

If you achieve this, you’ll improve your score for both task achievement and cohesion and coherence which together make up 50% of the overall marks. Without a conclusion, you’ll score below band 6 for task achievement.

You can start almost any final paragraph of an IELTS problem solution essay with the words:

  • In conclusion

        or

  • To conclude

Now all you need to do is briefly summarise the main ideas into one sentence.

Here’s a top tip . Go back and read the introduction to the essay because this is also a summary of the essay. It outlines what you are going to write about.

To create a good conclusion, you simply have to paraphrase the introduction. 

Introduction:

Here is the same information formed into a conclusion.  I’ve also added a personal statement at the end to link back to one of my example sentences. You don’t have to do this but in this case, I think that it rounds the essay off better.

problem solving essay structure

That’s it. We’ve completed our essay. Here it is with the 4 paragraphs put together.

Finished IELTS problem solution essay.

problem solving essay structure

Go through this lesson as many times as you need to in order to fully understand it and put in lots of practice writing IELTS problem solution essays from past exam questions. Practice is the only way to improve your skills.

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More help with ielts problem solution essays & other task 2 essays.

IELTS Writing Task 2  – T he format, the 5 question types, the 5 step essay writing strategy & sample questions. All the key information you need to know.

The 5 Types of Task 2 Essay   – How to recognise the 5 different types of Task 2 essays. 15 sample questions to study and a simple planning structure for each essay type.

Understanding Task 2 Questions  – How to quickly and easily analyse and understand IELTS Writing Task 2 questions.

How To Plan a Task 2 Essay  – Discover why essay planning is essential & learn a simple 4 step strategy, the 4 part essay structure & 4 methods of generating ideas.

How To Write a Task 2 Introduction  – Find out why a good introduction is essential. Learn how to write one using a simple 3 part strategy & discover 4 common mistakes to avoid.

How To Write Task 2 Main Body Paragraphs  – Learn the simple 3 part structure for writing great main body paragraphs and also, 3 common mistakes to avoid. 

How To Write Task 2 Conclusions  – Learn the easy way to write the perfect conclusion for a Task 2 essay. Also discover 4 common mistakes to avoid.

Task 2 Marking Criteria  – Find out how to meet the marking criteria in Task 2. See examples of good and poor answers & learn some common mistakes to avoid.

The 5 Task 2 Essay Types:

Step-by-step instructions on how to plan & write high-level essays. Model answers & common mistakes to avoid.

   Opinion Essays

   Discussion Essays

  Problem Solution Essays

  Advantages & Disadvantages Essays

  Double Question Essays

Other Related Pages

IELTS Writing Test  – Understand the format & marking criteria, know what skills are assessed & learn the difference between the Academic & General writing tests.

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IELTS Writing Task 2 Problem and Solution Essay Lesson

problem solving essay structure

Problem Solution Essay

This lesson on how to write a problem solution essay will:

  • discuss common mistakes;
  • show you how to analyse the question;
  • show you how to think of ideas;
  • give you a structure that can be used again and again on all problem solution IELTS essays;
  • describe how to write an introduction , main body paragraphs and conclusion; and
  • give you a full band 9 sample answer.

Problem/solution questions are one of the most common IELTS Writing Task 2 questions on the academic paper. Despite being very common, many students fail to do well in these questions. This post will look at some of the most common mistakes and then take you through how to answer these questions step-by-step.

Image: IELTS-vocabulary

Common Mistakes

  • The most common mistake for problem solution essays is not expanding on your ideas and instead simply listing lots of problems and solutions. The examiner does not want a list of all the problems and solutions you can think of, and please don’t do this in the exam. Instead, if you look at how the exam is marked , the examiner wants you to pick one or two problems and solutions and then expand on them with explanations and examples. More on how to do this below.
  • Another common mistake is writing about problems and solutions that are not directly linked to the question. You should be like a sniper when answering the question and only give very specific ideas rather than ideas that generally talk about the overall issue. This has a lot to do with how you identify keywords and micro-keywords in the questions which we will look at below.
  • Lots of people think of good ideas for problems and then fail to link their solutions to these problems. Each problem should have a solution directly linked to it, or in other words, it should solve the actual problem.
  • Finally, some candidates think of really good problems and solutions that answer the question properly and then expand their answers with explanations and examples, but they talk too generally. Instead, you should be thinking of specific examples and explanations. We will look at how to avoid this below.

Analysing the Question 

This is one of the most crucial parts of answering any IELTS writing question. If you don’t take the time to think properly about what the examiner is asking you to do, then it is very difficult to answer the question correctly.

We analyse the question by thinking about three things:

  • micro-keywords
  • action words

Keywords are the words that tell us what the general topic is.

Micro-keywords identify which part of the general topic the examiner wants you to discuss. They often give an opinion, qualify the statement or talk about a sub-category of the bigger general topic.

Action words tell us what the examiner wants us to do.

Problem Solution Sample Essay

Global warming is one of the biggest threats humans face in the 21st Century, and sea levels continue to rise at alarming rates. 

What problems are associated with this, and what are some possible solutions? 

If we look at this question, we can see that the keywords are ‘ global warming ‘. This is our general topic. We will write about this, but we cannot write about any problems associated with global warming. If we do this, we have not answered the question properly. We, therefore, need to look at the micro-keywords.

The micro-keywords are ‘ humans ‘ and ‘ sea level rise ‘. So instead of writing just about the huge topic of global warming and any problems associated with that (such as increased storms, extinction of certain animals, erosion of soil), we have to talk about how particularly sea level rises will affect humans . If we talked about the problems affecting the ‘planet’ or ‘animals’ or the ‘atmosphere’, we would not be answering the question.

The action words are problems and solutions .  Our task is, therefore, to write about that and only that. It does not ask our opinion about the disadvantages, advantages, or causes, just the problems and solutions. If we discussed the causes of sea level rise, we would not be answering the question.

For more information, go to effectively analyse an IELTS question .

How to Think of Ideas 

Image: 20-300x200

Now that we know exactly what the question is asking us to do, we need to think of specific and relevant ideas. There are many strategies for thinking of ideas for IELTS task 2 questions  TO THINK OF IDEAS FOR IELTS WRITING TASK 2  but for problem-solving questions; I like to use something called the ‘coffee shop method’.

Instead of brainstorming or mind-mapping- which take too much time and lead to irrelevant ideas in my opinion- you should pretend you are in a coffee shop with a friend and they have just asked you a simple question. In this case, it would be “What are the problems and solutions associated with sea level rise on humans?”

If you were talking to a friend about this, I’m sure you would have no problem thinking of at least 2 or 3 problems and solutions. This method takes you out of an exam situation and puts your mind into a more relaxed environment. Try it and see. If you don’t like it, try one of my other methods.

There are several problems and solutions, including:

Problem : flooding of people’s homes and businesses

Solution : build flood barriers or move to higher areas

Problem : loss of agricultural land and starvation

Solution : switch to more suitable crops

Problem : displacement of millions of people

Solution : move people in a planned and orderly way before the floods

Problem : groundwater undrinkable

Solution : build desalination plants

As you can see, I didn’t think of lots of problems and then lots of solutions. For each problem, you should think of a solution that directly solves this problem.

You now have lots of ideas, but now you must decide which ones to use. I always tell my students to pick the ones they know most about, i.e. that they can explain and give relevant examples.

Image: IELTS-Writing-Task-2-Structures-300x300

I advise my students to use a basic four-paragraph structure with all problem solution IELTS essays. Your four paragraphs should look something like this:

Paragraph 1- Introduction

Paragraph 2- Problems

Paragraph 3- Solutions

Paragraph 4- Conclusion

At a sentence level, your structure should look like this:

Introduction 

1- Paraphrase question

2- Outline sentence

3- State problems

4- Explain first problem

5- Explain second problem

6- Example of second problem

7- State solutions

8- Explain solution to first problem

9- Explain solution to second problem

10- Example of solution to second problem

Conclusion 

Sentence 11- Summary of main points in paragraphs 2 and 3

For more structures, check out our IELTS task 2 structures guide .

Now let’s look at each paragraph in more detail.

Image: write-IELTS-introduction-300x194

The introduction will have two sentences: a paraphrase of the question and an outline statement.

Paraphrasing is simply saying the sentence again with different words but with the same meaning. We can do this by using synonyms and/or changing the order of the words.

Question-  Global warming is one of the biggest threats humans face in the 21st Century, and sea levels continue to rise at alarming rates. 

Paraphrased- Climate change is among the principal dangers facing people this century, and ocean levels are increasing dramatically.

As you can see above, I have used synonyms to change the words of the questions, but it still has the same meaning. The examiner will look for your ability to do this in the exam, so practising this skill is a good idea.

Our outline sentence is next, which tells the examiner what they will read in the rest of the essay. This makes it very clear to the examiner and makes the rest of the essay much easier to understand. You will, therefore, gain marks for coherence and cohesion.

Our outline sentence should look something like this:

This essay will first suggest that the biggest problems caused by this phenomenon are the loss of land and the flooding of homes and then argue that pollution reduction and building flood protection are the most viable solutions.

Our introduction will, therefore, look like this:

Climate change is among the principal dangers facing people this century, and ocean levels are increasing dramatically. This essay will first suggest that the biggest problems caused by this phenomenon are the loss of land and the flooding of homes and then argue that pollution reduction and building flood protection are the most viable solutions.

It should be noted that this introduction does not contain a thesis statement. This is because this particular question does not ask us for our opinion. However, IELTS problem solution questions sometimes do ask you for your opinion, and you should then include a thesis statement.

Problems Paragraph 

Our problems paragraph will have this structure:

Sentence 1- State problems

Sentence 2- Explain first problem

Sentence 3- Explain second problem

Sentence 4- Example of second problem

State problems : The foremost problems caused by climbing sea levels are that land is being lost and peoples’ residences are often flooded.

Now that we have stated the problems, we must explain these. You should always consider your audience to be someone with no specialist knowledge in this area, and you, therefore, need to explain what everything means. Don’t assume that the IELTS examiner is educated and knows what you are talking about. These assumptions will stop you from writing what you need.

Explain first problem : As water levels rise, low-lying land is submerged, and many countries become smaller.

Explain second problem : Furthermore, millions of people worldwide live in coastal areas, and if the sea rises by even a few feet, they are inundated with water and lose their property.

Now we must give an example of what we are talking about. When we give an example, it should be as specific as possible.

An example of a very general example would be:

Lots of people in the world have experienced floods recently. 

This is far too general to be considered a good example.

Example : The devastation brought about by this was clear for all to see during the 2011 Tsunami in Japan, in which millions of people were displaced.

This example is much more specific. Stating a place and/or date can help you make your examples more specific.

Our second paragraph will look like this:

The foremost problems caused by climbing sea levels are that land is being lost and people’s residences are often flooded. As water levels rise, low-lying land is submerged, and many countries become smaller. Furthermore, millions of people worldwide live in coastal areas, and if the sea rises by even a few feet, they are inundated with water and lose their property. This devastation was clear for all to see during the 2011 Tsunami in Japan, in which millions of people were displaced.

Now we must move on to our solutions.

Solutions Paragraph

Our solutions paragraph will have this structure:

Sentence 1- State solutions

Sentence 2- Explain solution to first problem

Sentence 3- Explain solution to second problem

Sentence 4- Example of solution to second problem

State solutions : Possible solutions to these problems would be to reduce the amount of pollution created and build flood barriers.

We now need to explain how our solution will help solve the problem. Again, do not assume that the examiner has any specialist knowledge of this topic, so you need to explain what you mean.

Explain first solution: If each person reduces their carbon footprint, the negative effects on the environment will be reduced, which will mean that the water level will stop rising.

Explain second solution : Furthermore, flood defences, such as dikes, dams, and floodgates, could be built along coasts and waterways, thereby stopping the water from reaching populated areas.

Example : The Netherlands is one of the most populated areas in the world and one of the most vulnerable to flooding. They have successfully employed various flood defence systems.

Our whole solutions paragraph will look like this:

Possible solutions to these problems would be to reduce the amount of pollution being created and to build flood barriers. If each person reduces their carbon footprint, the negative effects on the environment will be reduced, which will mean that the water level will stop rising. Furthermore, flood defences, such as dikes, dams, and floodgates, could be built along coasts and waterways, thereby stopping the water from reaching populated areas. The Netherlands is one of the most populated areas in the world and also one of the most vulnerable to flooding, and they have successfully employed various flood defence systems.

We have now answered the question and need to sum up what we have said in the conclusion.

Image: IELTS-Conclusions-300x300

The conclusion should have no new ideas but instead should list the main points from the previous two paragraphs. You can also use synonyms in this paragraph to avoid repetition.

Conclusion : To conclude, stemming the rising tides caused by increasing global temperatures is one of the foremost challenges we face, and it will ultimately lead to some countries losing landmass and many of the world’s cities being left underwater, but possible solutions could be to protect our environment and to utilise the flood prevention techniques already used by countries like Holland.

Our whole conclusion for this problem solution essay will look like this:

To conclude, stemming the rising tides caused by increasing global temperatures is one of the foremost challenges we face, and it will ultimately lead to some countries losing landmass and many of the world’s cities being left underwater, but possible solutions could be to protect our environment and to utilise the flood prevention techniques already used by countries like Holland.

Problem and Solution Sample Essay

Here is the whole essay:

Climate change is among the principal dangers facing people this century, and ocean levels are increasing dramatically. This essay will first suggest that the biggest problems caused by this phenomenon are the loss of land and the flooding of homes and then argue that pollution reduction and building flood protection are the most viable solutions. The foremost problems caused by climbing sea levels are that land is being lost and peoples’ residences are often flooded. As water levels rise, low-lying land is submerged and many countries become smaller. Furthermore, millions of people all over the world live in coastal areas, and if the sea rises by even a few feet, they are inundated with water and lose their property. The devastation brought about by this was clear for all to see during the 2011 Tsunami in Japan, in which millions of people were displaced. Possible solutions to these problems would be to reduce the amount of pollution being created and to build flood barriers. If each person reduces their carbon footprint, the negative effects on the environment will be reduced and this will mean that the water level will stop rising. Furthermore, flood defences, such as dikes, dams, and floodgates, could be built along coasts and waterways, thereby stopping the water reaching populated areas. The Netherlands is one of the most populated areas in the world and also one of the most vulnerable to flooding and they have successfully employed various flood defence systems. To conclude, stemming the rising tides caused by increasing global temperatures is one of the foremost challenges we face and it will ultimately lead to some countries losing landmass and many of the worlds’ cities being left underwater, but possible solutions could be to protect our environment and to utilise the flood prevention techniques already used by countries like Holland.

I hope this post helps you with IELTS problem solution essays, and if you have any questions, please comment below.

Image: IELTS-PREPARATION

Next Steps 

If you found this lesson useful and it has helped you write a problem solution essay, you should also check out our lessons on task 2 opinions essays , discussion essays and advantages and disadvantages essays .

Do you need me to correct your essays and give you feedback on them? Check out our essay correction service .

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Problem-solution essays Situation-problem-solution-evaluation

Problem-solution essays are a common essay type, especially for short essays such as subject exams or IELTS . The page gives information on what they are , how to structure this type of essay, and gives an example problem-solution essay on the topic of obesity and fitness levels.

What are problem-solution essays?

Problem-solution

Problem-solution essays consider the problems of a particular situation, and give solutions to those problems. They are in some ways similar to cause and effect essays , especially in terms of structure (see below). Problem-solution essays are actually a sub-type of another type of essay, which has the following four components:

The 'situation' may be included in the essay prompt, in which case it will not be needed in the main body. If it is needed, it can often be included in the introduction, especially for short essays, as with the example essay below . The 'evaluation' may be included as part of the conclusion (also as in the example below), or omitted altogether, especially for short essays. For these reasons, problem-solution essays are more common than situation-problem-solution-evaluation essays (or SPSE essays).

There are two main ways to structure a problem-solution essay. These are similar to the ways to structure cause and effect essays , namely using a block or a chain structure. For the block structure, all of the problems are listed first, and all of the solutions are listed afterwards. For the chain structure, each problem is followed immediately by the solution to that problem. Both types of structure have their merits. The former is generally clearer, especially for shorter essays, while the latter ensures that any solutions you present relate directly to the problems you have given.

The two types of structure, block and chain , are shown in the diagram below. This is for a short essay, which includes the 'situation' in the introduction and 'evaluation' in the conclusion. A longer essay, for example one of around 1,000 words, with citations , would probably have these two sections as separate paragraphs in the main body.

Example essay

Below is a problem-solution essay on the topic of obesity and poor fitness . It uses the block structure . Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes) to highlight the different structural aspects in this essay, i.e. Situation, Problem, Solution, Evaluation. This will highlight not simply the paragraphs, but also (for problems and solutions) the thesis statement and summary , as these repeat the problems and solutions contained in the main body.

Consumption of processed and convenience foods and our dependence on the car have led to an increase in obesity and reduction in the fitness level of the adult population. In some countries, especially industrialized ones, the number of obese people can amount to one third of the population. This is significant as obesity and poor fitness lead to a decrease in life expectancy , and it is therefore important for individuals and governments to work together to tackle this issue and improve their citizens' diet and fitness. Obesity and poor fitness decrease life expectancy. Overweight people are more likely to have serious illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, which can result in premature death. It is well known that regular exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, which means that those with poor fitness levels are at an increased risk of suffering from those problems. Changes by individuals to their diet and their physical activity can increase life expectancy. There is a reliance today on the consumption of processed foods, which have a high fat and sugar content. By preparing their own foods, and consuming more fruit and vegetables, people could ensure that their diets are healthier and more balanced, which could lead to a reduction in obesity levels. In order to improve fitness levels, people could choose to walk or cycle to work or to the shops rather than taking the car. They could also choose to walk up stairs instead of taking the lift. These simple changes could lead to a significant improvement in fitness levels. Governments could also implement initiatives to improve their citizens' eating and exercise habits. This could be done through education, for example by adding classes to the curriculum about healthy diet and lifestyles. Governments could also do more to encourage their citizens to walk or cycle instead of taking the car, for instance by building more cycle lanes or increasing vehicle taxes. While some might argue that increased taxes are a negative way to solve the problem, it is no different from the high taxes imposed on cigarettes to reduce cigarette consumption. In short, obesity and poor fitness are a significant problem in modern life, leading to lower life expectancy . Individuals and governments can work together to tackle this problem and so improve diet and fitness . Of the solutions suggested, those made by individuals themselves are likely to have more impact, though it is clear that a concerted effort with the government is essential for success. With obesity levels in industrialized and industrializing countries continuing to rise, it is essential that we take action now to deal with this problem.

Academic Writing Genres

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Below is a checklist for the main body of an essay. Use it to check your own writing, or get a peer (another student) to help you.

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Compare & contrast essays examine the similarities of two or more objects, and the differences.

Cause & effect essays consider the reasons (or causes) for something, then discuss the results (or effects).

Discussion essays require you to examine both sides of a situation and to conclude by saying which side you favour.

Problem-solution essays are a sub-type of SPSE essays (Situation, Problem, Solution, Evaluation).

Transition signals are useful in achieving good cohesion and coherence in your writing.

Reporting verbs are used to link your in-text citations to the information cited.

The Problem-Solution Essay Structure

Hey guys! Let’s talk about problems and solutions! Or, to say it right, let’s talk about problem and solution essays!

Problem and solution essays are a common type of IELTS writing task 2. They usually present you with a situation and ask you to write about the problems that this situation may cause and the possible solutions to those problems. Let’s have a look at an example of such a question:

“Nowadays, the number of cars that people buy is increasing day by day. What are the problems that this situation might cause? What are the solutions to those problems?”

The structure of a problem and solution essay is simple: most of the times it consists of four paragraphs. In the introduction, you present the topic by paraphrasing the question. After that, you write two main body paragraphs: one that speaks about the problems and another that proposes solutions. In the end, you write the conclusion where you repeat what you have already said. Easy-peasy!

Another alternative way to structure this type of essay is to dedicate each main body paragraph to one problem and its solution. So, for instance, if you have two problems and two solutions to present, you would make one paragraph for problem #1 and solution #1 and another for problem #2 and solution #2.

Whatever you choose, remember to write about both problems and solutions! Keep practising!

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IELTS Writing: problem and solution essay

In this lesson you’ll learn how to answer problems/solutions questions in IELTS Writing . This type of questions gives you an issue and asks you to describe some common problems associated with it and propose some possible solutions.

  • See problem-solution question sample
  • Learn how to generate ideas
  • Learn band 9 answering strategies
  • See full band 9 answer

Question sample

This is an example of problem-solution question in IELTS Writing:

Despite a large number of gyms, a sedentary lifestyle is gaining popularity in the contemporary world.

What problems are associated with this?

What solutions can you suggest?

How to answer the question?

Before starting to write your answer, you should think of 1-2 problems and 1-2 solutions, so you know what to write about. In our case:

Problems associated with sedentary lifestyle :

problem solving essay structure

  • problems with backbone (osteoporosis, scoliosis)

Solutions :

  • promote walking and cycling as safe and attractive alternatives to motorized transport
  • promote visiting gyms and doing exercises

Now, after we’ve generated some ideas for our essay, it’s time to use them in our writing .

Remember : it’s not enough to simply state these facts, you should also extend the ideas in your writing.

Band 9 answer structure

Although there are many possible ways to structure your essay, we’ll use this band 9 answer structure that has been approved by many IELTS examiners:

Band-9 essay structure:

  • Introduction
  • Body paragraph 1 - problems
  • Body paragraph 2 - effects

Let’s take a look at each of these sections in detail:

Introduction Write your introduction in two sentences:

  • Sentence 1 - paraphrase the statement (you can use ‘nowadays/today/these days’ to start):

These days a sedentary lifestyle is becoming more and more popular despite a big number of sport facilities.

  • Sentence 2 - say what you’ll write about in your essay:

This essay will discuss the main problems associated with this epidemic and propose some possible solutions to avoid them.

Body paragraph 1- problems

  • Sentence 1 - summarise the main problems of inactive lifestyle:

The main problems caused by inactive lifestyle are obesity and various spine disorders.

  • Sentences 2-3 - state and explain the first problem (you can also give an example). It’s very important to expand your opinion! Imagine that your examiner doesn’t know this subject at all and you have to explain everything in detail:

A growing number of body research shows that long periods of physical inactivity raise a risk of becoming overweight. This is because people burn fewer calories and easily gain weight.

  • Sentences 4-5 - describe the second problem (as usual, expand your opinion). You can give an example and use linking words ‘ moreover’ , ’ what’s more’ or ‘ also ’ to start:

What’s more, a lot of studies show that so-called ‘sitting disease’ often results in posture and backbone problems. Due to constant sitting, person loses muscle tissue and curves spine, developing numerous spinal diseases. For example, it has been proven that about 80% of people experience backache at least once a week.

Body paragraph 2 - solutions

  • Sentence 1 - briefly state the main solutions:

In my opinion, the best solution to this problem is promoting active lifestyle.

  • Sentences 2-3 - write the first solution and explain it:

Firstly, millions of people stay less active because they use cars instead of walking. Therefore, an effective way to make people more active is to advertise walking and cycling as safe and attractive alternatives to motorized transport.

Moreover, inactive lifestyle is gaining popularity because nowadays a lot of people prefer passive rest to workouts in the gym. And the best way to avoid the hazards of unhealthy living is to obtain a regular dose of physical activity. Thus, promoting gyms and regular exercising would increase the level of activity.

Write your conclusion in 2 sentences by summing up the problems and solutions you’ve written in your body paragraphs:

In conclusion, leading a sedentary lifestyle causes a lot of health problems, including obesity and spinal diseases. The most effective solution is to increase the level of fitness among the society by advertising physical activity.

Band 9 answer sample

These days a sedentary lifestyle is becoming more and more popular despite a big number of sport facilities. This essay will discuss the main problems associated with this epidemic and propose some possible solutions to avoid them.

The main problems caused by inactive lifestyle are obesity and various spine disorders. A growing number of body research shows that long periods of physical inactivity raise a risk of becoming overweight. This is because people burn fewer calories and easily gain weight. What’s more, a lot of studies show that so-called ‘sitting disease’ often results in posture and backbone problems. Due to constant sitting, person loses muscle tissue and curves spine, developing numerous spinal diseases. For example, it has been proven that about 80% of people experience backache at least once a week.

In my opinion, the best solution to these problems is promoting active lifestyle. Firstly, millions of people stay less active because they use cars instead of walking. Therefore, an effective way to make people more active is to advertise walking and cycling as safe and attractive alternatives to motorized transport. Moreover, inactive lifestyle is gaining popularity because nowadays a lot of people prefer passive rest to workouts in the gym. And the best way to avoid the hazards of unhealthy living is to obtain a regular dose of physical activity. Thus, promoting gyms and regular exercising would increase the level of activity.

(268 words)

IELTS Charlie

IELTS Problem Solution Essay: tips, common mistakes, questions & essays

In this lesson we are going to look at how to answer an IELTS Problem Solution essay.

You will learn about this  IELTS Writing Task 2  essay, using  authentic IELTS essay questions , plus the most common mistakes. And I will finish with an  IELTS model essay  written by me in response to a  sample IELTS essay question . So let’s get started!

What Is Your Task?

In this IELTS question type, you are usually presented with a statement about a common problem that many people or societies face. Usually you will be asked to discuss 2 things:

  • the causes of the problem, or the problem itself
  • and some solutions to the problem

Sometimes you may be asked to discuss the effects of the problem.

So it’s really important to read the question carefully, so you know  exactly  what you should discuss!

Read this task:

Plastic bags, plastic bottles and plastic packaging are bad for the  environment. 

What damage does plastic do to the environment? 

What can be done by governments and individuals to solve this problem? 

Cambridge IELTS 16 General Training Test 1

So in the task above, you are presented with a statement about a problem: “ Plastic bags, plastic bottles and plastic packaging are bad for the  environment. “

Next, you are asked a question related to the problem: “ What damage does plastic do to the environment?” . In this task the question is asking you about the effect of the problem.

Then, you are asked a question related to the solution: “ What can be done by governments and individuals to solve this problem?” In other words, you need to suggest some solutions.

These types of question can be worded in a variety of ways. Here are some common examples:

  • What problems are associated with this and what are some possible solutions?
  • What difficulties does this cause? What can we do to tackle this problem?

What do you think are the causes of these problems and what measures could be taken to solve them?

  • Why is this the case? What can be done about this problem?

As you can see, it’s really important to read the question carefully because the wording can vary a lot.

How To Plan An IELTS Problem Solution Essay

If you are aiming for a high band score (band 7 and above) it is absolutely vital that you plan your essay. A good plan will help you to see if you have answered the question, developed your ideas and organised them BEFORE you start writing.

We’re going to plan an essay using my  4 Step Planning Process .

4 Step Planning Process

Step 1: Understand The Task

First, you need to make sure you understand exactly what you need to write about. So you need to read the question carefully, not quickly!

Think about these three questions:

What is the topic about?

What is the topic NOT about?

How should you respond to the topic?

Let’s go back to this essay question, and answer those 3 questions:

The topic is presented in the first sentence in the task, “plastic bags, plastic bottles and plastic packaging are bad for the environment.”  So the topic is about the negative effects that plastic items (specifically bags, bottles and packaging) have on the natural world.

Note that the first sentence is a factual statement, not an opinion. It states that plastic IS bad for the environment, not “ some people think plastic is bad for the environment)

  • The topic is not about pollution in general, only plastic pollution. So don’t discuss carbon emissions or petrol fumes.
  • The topic also mentions only bags, bottles and packaging. So it’s probably best to avoid talking about objects made of plastic (e.g. toys…although I did this in one of my model essays! Hopefully I will get a kind examiner!)

The two questions tell you how to respond to the topic. So make sure you answer these questions. Don’t discuss the advantages of plastic, or why you think plastic is NOT bad for the environment!

Step 2: Decide Your Position

Next, you need to decide your position. In other words, you need to decide what you think.

In a problems solutions IELTS essay, your position is simply your answers to the two questions .

So in our example task, your position is your answers to these 2 questions:

  • What damage does plastic do to the environment?
  • What can be done by governments and individuals to solve this problem?

There aren’t questions with a factual answer, so they are really asking you for your opinion, ideally an opinion based on your own knowledge or experience.

Personally, I think that plastic damages the environment by harming wildlife, and because the plastic gets into the water supply system. What can governments and individuals do? I think governments need to tax plastic more heavily. And individuals can stop using plastic bags.

So what is YOUR position? What do YOU think? 

Step 3: Extend Your Ideas

When you decided your position, you may have started thinking about the reasons for your position, the reasons for your answer. In other words, WHY are you taking this view?

Giving reasons for your view is essential in an IELTS essay. In fact, all IELTS questions tell you to “give reasons for your answer”. So in Step 3, you need to think about your reasons a little more.

However, just presenting your  reasons is not enough. You need to develop them.

The two best ways of developing your ideas is by:

  • giving explanations of what you mean
  • giving specific examples which illustrate what you mean

Together, these add more detail to your answer.

You MUST do this to get Band 7. If you fail to develop your ideas in detail, your band score for Task Response may be limited to Band 6.

Read more about how to develop your ideas in an IELTS essay.

Step 4: Structure Your Essay

The final step in the planning process is to structure your essay. This simply means deciding which main ideas to put in which paragraphs.

Here’s a simple structure for a problem / solution essay:

  • Paragraph 1: introduction
  • Paragraph 2: discuss 2 problems
  • Paragraph 3: discuss 2 solutions
  • Paragraph 4: summarise your ideas.

Here is an alternative structure:

  • Paragraph 2: discuss one problem and a solution to this problem
  • Paragraph 3: discuss one problem and a solution to this problem

However, this structure is not always appropriate, so use it carefully! If your ideas are not closely related to the problem, it can cause problems with coherence. For example, one problem caused by global warming is melting icecaps; however, there is no direct solution to melting icecaps –  the solution often lies a long way from the polar ice caps .

ielts-problem-solution-essay

How To Write Your IELTS Problem Solution Essay

Let’s go through how to write the different parts of the essay.

How To Write The Introduction To An IELTS Problem Solution Essay

In the introduction to an IELTS Problems Solutions essay, you need to do two things:

  • briefly introduce the topic of the essay
  • briefly say what you are going to write about

Introduce The Topic

You should begin with a background sentence which introduces your reader to the topic of the essay. The best way to do this is to paraphrase the topic statement.

How To Paraphrase

Think about the meaning of the topic statement, and briefly rewrite it using your own words. Try not to use the same grammatical structures as in the essay question, and try to move language around. In other words, be flexible. This is important if you are aiming for a Band 7 or higher.

In the example essay question above, the topic statement said:

“Plastic bags, plastic bottles and plastic packaging are bad for the environment.”

Here is one way of paraphrasing this:

“People are becoming increasingly concerned about the damaging effects of plastic on the environment.”

This sentence has the same general meaning as the original sentence, but uses different vocabulary and different grammatical structures.

Say What You Are Going To Write About

In an IELTS Problems Solutions essay, it’s a good idea to briefly say what you are going to write about – in other words, say that you are going to answer the two questions.

In our example essay above, we need to answer two questions:

So I could write:

This essay will examine the damage done to the environment by plastic, along with some possible solutions.

How To Write The Body Paragraphs

In an IELTS Problems Solutions essay, you need to present the problem (or the causes of the problem) and possible solutions in the body paragraphs.

There a couple of possible structures:

  • Body Paragraph 1: discuss the problems
  • Body Paragraph 2: discuss the solutions
  • Body Paragraph 1: discuss one problem and its solution
  • Body Paragraph 2: discuss another problem and its solution

However, this second structure is not always appropriate. I would recommend only using the first structure.

Each body paragraph should contain:

  • A problem (or a solution) – your main idea
  • A more detailed explanation of the problem (or solution)
  • An example which illustrates this
  • You can also include a 2nd problem or (2nd solution) in the same paragraph.

This structure is what is meant by developing your ideas, and it is essential for a Band 7.

You can read more about  developing your ideas here .

How To Write The Conclusion

In the conclusion to an IELTS Problem Solution essay, you need to do one thing:

  • summarise your main points

Do NOT write any new ideas in your conclusion. If you think of new ideas while writing your conclusion, forget them! It’s too late.

Common Mistakes in an IELTS Problem Solution Essay

These are the most common mistakes made by Test Takers when writing an IELTS Problem Solution essay:

  • presenting too many problems and solutions: you MUST develop ALL of your ideas to get a high band score, so it’s best to present 3 or 4 problems / solutions in total and explain them all
  • not answering the exact question. If the question asks you to discuss the CAUSES of the problem, make sure you discuss the causes, not the problem.  If the question asks you to discuss the EFFECTS of the problem, make sure you discuss the effects, not the problem. So read the question carefully!
  • Writing an overly general statement about the topic in the introduction (e.g. “The Environment is a topic of hot debate.” )
  • Your main ideas are not explained and illustrated enough. You need to develop all of your ideas to get a band 7 and higher.
  • Writing an opinion in the conclusion: you usually only need to summarise your main points in the conclusion.
  • Using memorised phrases (e.g. “a hot topic”, “in a nutshell”, “quick fix”)
  • Using “research studies” as examples: examples should illustrate your ideas, not prove them. Read about  how to use examples in IELTS essays .
  • Trying to use rare or “novel” language: examiners are looking for groups of words used naturally, not rare words.quick fix

Sample IELTS Problem Solution Essay Questions

Plastic bags, plastic bottles and plastic packaging are bad for the environment. What damage does plastic do to the environment? What can be done by governments and individuals to solve this problem?

(Cambridge IELTS 16 General Training Test 1)

Nowadays many people complain that they have difficulties getting enough sleep. What problems can lack of sleep cause? What can be done about lack of sleep?

(Cambridge IELTS 15 General Training Test 2)

In spite of the advances made in agriculture, many people around the world still go hungry. Why is this the case? What can be done about this problem?

( Cambridge IELTS 13 Academic Test 4 )

Many working people get little or no exercise either during the working day or in their free time, and have health problems as a result. Why do many working people not get enough exercise? What can be done about this problem?

(Cambridge IELTS 13 General Training Test 2)

Model IELTS Problem Solution Essays

Here is an IELTS Problem Solution Essay that I wrote in response to this task:

In some countries the average weight of people is increasing and their levels of health and fitness are decreasing.

Cambridge IELTS 8 Test 4 (Academic)

Over the last few decades, rising obesity and a drop in people’s overall health and fitness have become a major concern in many countries, especially those in the developed world.

One of the main causes of increasing weight amongst the population is because so much food and drink contains large amounts of carbohydrates. Junk food, for example, tends to contain high quantities of cheap pasta and rice, while soft drinks often contain large amounts of sugar. If these carbohydrates are not burned up through exercise, they will simply be converted by the body into fat, leading to weight gain.

However, people are getting less exercise, which means that not only will they gain weight, they will also experience lower levels of health and fitness. One of the main reasons for this lack of exercise is our increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Whereas in the past, many people used to be engaged in manual labour such as factory work or farming, today they are more likely to be sat in an office hunched over a computer. Add to that the fact that people are more likely to commute to work by car, rather than walk or cycle, and we can see why people are getting fatter and less healthy.

There are some solutions to this problem that governments could provide, such as a sugar tax. In countries where this has been introduced, such as the U.K., this has led to drinks’ manufacturers reducing the amount of sugar in their products. I also feel that higher levels of tax on petrol might make car drivers think twice about whether they should really take the car out on the road. Ultimately, however, it is up to individuals to take more responsibility for their own health and fitness. They could make the effort to walk more and take the car less, and make better choices regarding their diet using information that is widely available on the Internet.

(321 words)

Read my full plan and comments for this essay.

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Discover the 7 STEPS to BAND 7 in IELTS Writing Task 2

Composition Type: Problem-Solution Essays

  • An Introduction to Punctuation
  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
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In composition , using a problem-solution format is a method for analyzing and writing about a topic by identifying a problem and proposing one or more solutions. A problem-solution essay is a type of argument. "This sort of essay involves argumentation in that the writer seeks to convince the reader to take a particular course of action. In explaining the problem, it may also need to persuade the reader concerning specific causes" (Dave Kemper et al., "Fusion: Integrated Reading and Writing," 2016).

The Thesis Statement

In many types of report writing, the thesis statement is posed front and center, in one sentence. Author Derek Soles writes about how the thesis statement in a problem-solution paper differs from a straight "report of findings" type of text:

"[One]  expository  mode is the problem-solution essay, topics for which are typically framed in the form of questions. Why did fourth-graders from poor families score low on a nationwide math test, and how can educators improve math education for this group? Why is Iran a threat to our national security, and how can we reduce this threat? Why did it take the Democratic Party so long to select a candidate for the 2008 presidential election, and what can the party do to make the process more efficient in the future? These essays have two parts: a full explanation of the nature of the problem, followed by an analysis of solutions and their likelihood of success."
("The Essentials of Academic Writing," 2nd ed. Wadsworth, Cengage, 2010)

Readers need additional context before you get to your thesis, but that is not to say that the thesis has to be posed as a question in the introduction:  

"In a problem-solution essay, the thesis statement usually proposes the solution. Because readers must first understand the problem, the thesis statement usually comes after a description of the problem. The thesis statement does not have to give details about the solution. Instead, it summarizes the solution. It should also lead naturally to the body of the essay, preparing your reader for a discussion of how your solution would work."
(Dorothy Zemach and Lynn Stafford-Yilmaz, "Writers at Work: The Essay." Cambridge University Press, 2008)

Sample Introductions

It can be helpful to see completed examples before writing in order to examine what makes for an effective piece. See how these introductions give some context before posing the topic and lead naturally into the body paragraphs, where the evidence will be listed. You can imagine how the author has organized the rest of the piece.

"We buried my cousin last summer. He was 32 when he hanged himself from a closet coat rack in the throes of alcoholism, the fourth of my blood relatives to die prematurely from this deadly disease. If America issued drinking licenses, those four men—including my father, who died at 54 of liver failure—might be alive today."
(Mike Brake, "Needed: A License to Drink."  Newsweek , March 13, 1994)
"America is suffering from overwork. Too many of us are too busy, trying to squeeze more into each day while having less to show for it. Although our growing time crunch is often portrayed as a personal dilemma, it is, in fact, a major social problem that has reached crisis proportions over the past twenty years."
(Barbara Brandt, "Whole Life Economics: Revaluing Daily Life." New Society, 1995)
"The modern-day apartment dweller is faced with a most annoying problem: paper-thin walls and sound-amplifying ceilings. To live with this problem is to live with the invasion of privacy. There is nothing more distracting than to hear your neighbors' every function. Although the source of the noise cannot be eliminated, the problem can be solved."
(Maria B. Dunn, "One Man's Ceiling Is Another Man's Floor: The Problem of Noise")

Organization

In "Passages: A Writer's Guide, " how to organize a problem-solution paper is explained:  

"Though to some extent [your organization of the paper] depends on your topic, do make sure that you include the following information:
Introduction: Identify the problem in a nutshell. Explain why this is a problem, and mention who should be concerned about it.
Problem Paragraph(s): Explain the problem clearly and specifically. Demonstrate that this is not just a personal complaint, but a genuine problem that affects many people.
"Solution Paragraph(s): Offer a concrete solution to the problem, and explain why this is the best one available. You may want to point out why other possible solutions are inferior to yours. If your solution calls for a series of steps or actions to be followed, present these steps in a logical order.
"Conclusion: Reemphasize the importance of the problem and the value of your solution. Choose a problem that you have experienced and thought about—one that you have solved or are in the process of solving. Then, in the essay itself, you may use your own experience to illustrate the problem. However, don't focus all the attention on yourself and on your troubles. Instead, direct the essay at others who are experiencing a similar problem. In other words, don't write an I essay ('How I Cure the Blues'); write a you essay ('How You Can Cure the Blues')."
(Richard Nordquist, Passages: A Writer's Guide , 3rd ed. St. Martin's Press, 1995)
  • What Is Expository Writing?
  • How to Teach Topic Sentences Using Models
  • What an Essay Is and How to Write One
  • Definition and Examples of Analysis in Composition
  • How to Write a Solid Thesis Statement
  • Definition and Examples of Body Paragraphs in Composition
  • Examples of Great Introductory Paragraphs
  • An Introduction to Academic Writing
  • Thesis: Definition and Examples in Composition
  • Beef Up Critical Thinking and Writing Skills: Comparison Essays
  • 2020-21 Common Application Essay Option 4—Solving a Problem
  • Topical Organization Essay
  • Understanding Organization in Composition and Speech
  • How to Write a Good Thesis Statement
  • How to Structure an Essay
  • The Ultimate Guide to the 5-Paragraph Essay

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Problem Solution Essay

Caleb S.

Learn How to Write a Problem Solution Essay in No Time

16 min read

Published on: Feb 1, 2022

Last updated on: Jul 21, 2023

Problem Solution Essay

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Are you facing difficulties when it comes to writing problem solution essays? 

You're not alone!                          It's a critical skill to master, as these essays provide opportunities to address real-world issues and propose practical solutions.

Well, CollegeEssay.org is here to save the day!

In this blog, we will provide you with invaluable insights, expert tips, and a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the challenges of problem solution essays.

With our comprehensive strategies and examples, you'll learn to craft powerful essays that propose innovative solutions and captivate your readers.

Get ready to conquer the essay-writing battlefield and make a difference with your words.

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What is a Problem Solution Essay?

A problem-solution essay is a type of academic writing that requires the writer to analyze a problem, propose a viable solution, and support their ideas with relevant evidence. 

The primary objective of this essay is to address real-world issues and provide practical solutions to those problems.

In a problem-solution essay, the writer typically begins by describing the problem, highlighting its severity and impact. The writer then proposes a solution to the problem, providing a detailed explanation of how the solution will work. 

The essay may also include a discussion of the potential challenges or limitations associated with the proposed solution.

Importance Of Problem Solution Essays

Problem-solution essays play a crucial role in academia and beyond. Here are some reasons why these essays hold significant importance:

  • Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills

Writing a problem-solution essay enhances critical thinking abilities by requiring the writer to deeply analyze and understand complex problems. It encourages the development of analytical skills to assess the root causes, consequences, and potential solutions to a given problem.

  • Practical Application of Knowledge

Problem-solution essays provide an opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world issues. By researching and proposing solutions, students bridge the gap between theory and practice, making their education relevant and meaningful.

  • Problem-Solving Mindset

Engaging in problem-solution essays cultivates a problem-solving mindset. It encourages individuals to identify problems, think creatively, and propose effective solutions. This mindset is highly valuable in various academic disciplines, professional settings, and everyday life.

  • Awareness And Social Impact

Problem-solution essays promote awareness of social, environmental, or political issues. By addressing pressing problems and proposing solutions, these essays contribute to raising consciousness and fostering positive change within society.

  • Persuasive Communication

Crafting a compelling problem-solution essay hones persuasive communication skills. Writers must effectively communicate their ideas, present logical arguments, and convince readers of the feasibility and effectiveness of their proposed solutions.

  • Empowerment and Personal Growth

Successfully tackling problem-solution essays instills a sense of empowerment and personal growth. As students overcome challenges and present innovative solutions, they gain confidence, expand their knowledge base, and develop essential skills for future endeavors.

Features of Problem Solution Essay

A problem-solution essay possesses distinct features that set it apart from other essay types. Let's explore some key features of a problem-solution essay:

Problem Identification

The essay begins by clearly identifying and defining the problem . It is essential to provide a comprehensive understanding of the problem, its scope, and its impact on individuals or society. 

The writer should establish the urgency and significance of the problem to capture the reader's attention.

Solution Proposal

The heart of a problem-solution essay lies in proposing a feasible solution.

The writer must present a well-reasoned and practical solution that directly addresses the identified problem. The proposed solution should be logical, realistic, and supported by evidence or expert opinions.

Evidence-Based Approach

A strong problem-solution essay relies on evidence to support the proposed solution. This may include statistical data, research findings, case studies, or expert testimonies. 

The writer should provide convincing evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness and viability of the proposed solution.

Consideration of Limitations

Acknowledging and addressing any potential limitations or challenges associated with the proposed solution is crucial. This demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of the problem and a realistic approach to solving it. 

By acknowledging limitations, the writer shows a balanced perspective and invites further discussion or alternative solutions.

Call to Action

A problem-solution essay often concludes with a call to action, urging readers to take steps toward implementing the proposed solution or supporting related initiatives. This call to action encourages readers to reflect on the problem and motivates them to contribute to positive change.

Problem Solution Essay Format

Like other essays, problem-solution essays also follow a format. Creating a problem-solution essay outline will make the essay writing process smoother. 

Have a look at the problem-solution essay structure:

H3- Introduction

An introduction is important because you will not be able to write a good essay without one. You need to describe the problem and then show why it is important. If it is a new or uncommon problem, you will need to explain how it works and its consequences. 

If it is a common problem, you will need to tell us about what happens when the problem isn't solved and how people feel about that. Whatever the case may be, you want to convince readers of its importance.

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  • Brief Thesis Statement

The thesis statement serves as a concise and informative sentence that outlines the main focus of your essay. It provides the readers with an understanding of the knowledge they will gain by reading it.

For example, if you're writing an essay about how to solve a problem, your thesis statement should be: 

"This essay explores the impact of social media on mental health and proposes strategies to promote a healthier digital environment, enabling readers to understand the potential risks and empowering them with effective solutions for maintaining their well-being in the digital age."

You can also add other solutions that did not work before explaining your solution in detail.

An essay usually has three paragraphs, one for each problem and solution. When working on each solution, it is important to review these things:

  • Explain the problem in detail
  • Propose your solution and explain it properly
  • Explain how this will help solve that problem
  • If you want to show why your solution is best, use an expert or personal experience, statistics, other people's work, or examples.

Conclusion 

The last part of an essay is as important as the first. It is often the strongest part, and many people think it doesn't matter because it comes at the end. But that's wrong! 

If you don't do a good job on your conclusion, you might fail to earn a good grade. Here are some tips for writing a strong conclusion for your essay: 

  • Make sure that you summarize what was said in your introduction 
  • List the main points of your argument 
  • Give advice to someone who has similar problems

This was all for the Problem solution essay format. Now it’s time to get started to write an essay. 

How to Write a Problem Solution Essay? 5 Easy Steps

A good problem-solution essay should propose a solution that is easy to implement, reasonable, and solves the problem. Make sure your essay stays focused on the main topic. 

Below are steps for writing a good and impressive problem-solution essay.

1. Choose the Topic

Think about the issues that are bothering you. These could be anything, but they need to be big enough for them to affect people. Make a list of these issues or problems that are facing some groups or your community.

2. Think How to Implement Solution

To make a great solution, it needs to be easy to understand and do. Good solutions can be done easily, solve the problem well, and are not expensive.

One of the common ways people try to solve problems is by getting rid of what is causing the problem. 

For example, if someone does drugs, they may stop doing them. It can also help if you educate people about how it works or use advertising to motivate them. 

Final ly, you might be able to change something that is not working, like an old law, or introduce new ones. Of course, there are other solutions too, so think about all of them!

3. Create an Outline

An outline is important in writing. It helps you to remember what you were going to say, and it also tells your readers what they will learn from the essay. When you write an outline, divide the information into sections or paragraphs.

Pick a topic and then add all of your points in order to make the essay easier for the reader.

Here’s a generic outline for a problem solution essay.

4. Start Writing Your Essay

Now the outline is created, it’s time to fit in the extensive detail. A problem-solving essay follows the structur e of having an introd uction paragraph, three supporting body paragraphs, and a concluding one. 

Start adding the details as discussed in the outline section. 

5. Revise Your Essay

The last step in the process of writing an essay is to proofread it. Proofreading means that you go through it a lot of time to ensure there are no mistakes or errors in your essay. 

Ensure that the vocabulary, grammar, spelling, citation, facts, syntax, and format are accurate and appropriate. If you find any errors during this step, then correct them before submitting your essay to your instructor.

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Problem Solution Essay Examples

We know that it can be hard to write this kind of essay. We have a sample essay below to help you understand.

Below are additional examples of problem solution essays that can serve as sources of inspiration for your writing.

Problem Solution Essay Sample pdf

Garbage Problem Solution Essay

Problem Solution Essay Topics

When you write about a problem solution topic, make sure it is something important to you. Usually, people write about things that are happening around them or in the world.

Below are some topics to choose from when writing your essay.

  • What can be done to stop body positivity from going too far?
  • How can we encourage people to adopt children in real life?
  • How can we reduce domestic violence in our society?
  • How to prevent people from drinking alcohol while driving?
  • What are ways to reduce racial violence? 
  • What is the best way to solve cybercrime? 
  • What are the best ways to reduce fraud in real estate deals?
  • How can the government solve the problem of immigrant assimilation in the United States?
  • What steps should the government take to increase voter turnout?
  • What legislation can be used to limit sources of campaign financing for political candidates?

If you’re still having trouble writing this type of essay, check out this informative video below.

In conclusion , a problem-solution essay is an effective way to address and propose solutions to issues that affect individuals or society. 

By identifying a problem and presenting supporting evidence, you can inspire readers to take action and contribute to positive change. 

If you're struggling with writing a problem-solution essay, consider seeking assistance from our AI essay writing tools . 

Our team of experienced writers can provide guidance and support throughout the writing process. This ensures that you create a well-written and persuasive essay that effectively addresses the identified problem. 

So, what are you waiting for? Hire our writing service today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to start the solution paragraph in an essay.

The best way to start a solution paragraph in an essay is by explaining the problem and then suggesting people to try it. 

How should I start the first paragraph of a problem-solution essay?

Start your first paragraph by following the below steps: 

  • Telling a story about the problem 
  • Then, describe what happened or your experience with it 
  • End with how you solved it. 

Caleb S. (Literature, Marketing)

Caleb S. has extensive experience in writing and holds a Masters from Oxford University. He takes great satisfaction in helping students exceed their academic goals. Caleb always puts the needs of his clients first and is dedicated to providing quality service.

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