Esl Problem Solution Essay Examples

LEARN PROBLEM-SOLUTION ESSAY WRITING

Organization

A Problem-Solution Essay discusses a problem, and then provides a plan for its solution.  We often use this type of essay when we what to persuade others that we have a better idea, or a better plan.

The block method of organization:

Paragraph 1:

  • Hook
  • Connecting Information
  • Thesis Statement

Paragraph 2: Reasons why the problem is real

Paragraph 3: Solution(s) for the problem: individual levels

Paragraph 4: Solution(s) for the problem: community levels

Paragraph 5: Conclusion


Thesis Statement

The problem-solution thesis statement can be one sentence or two.  Whether it is one or two sentence, it needs to clearly state what the problem is, and then the possible solutions.

Look at the example below.  The sentence in blue states the problem, and the sentence in red references to possible solutions.

  • Excessive noise from traffic poses health risks to people of all ages. Researchers have developed two possible solutions to protect people and still preserve the flow of traffic.

Body Paragraphs

The first body paragraph describes the problem in such a way that the reader is convinced that the problem needs solving.  Then the following paragraphs explain the solution(s) to the problem persuading the readers that the solutions are the best. Optional: You can include with a rebuttal to counter objections.

See Compound and Complex Sentences and Cohesion and Coherence for paragraph development.

Conclusion

The conclusion restates the thesis statements. It should be done in such a way as to emphasize the solutions. The closing statement should leave a call to action – challenging the readers to do something about the problem.

Remember, no new information in the conclusion.


Using a Chart

When you write about a problem and its solutions, you can use a problem-solution chart to develop your ideas.  Include why it is a problem and possible solutions for the problem.

Download:Problem-solution-chart


Suggested Outline

Introduction

  1. The hook – use an interesting fact, or a quote, or even a rhetorical question
  2. Connecting information – briefly introduce the problem
  3. Thesis statement  – state the problem, why it’s a problem, refer to a proposed solution for the problem

Body Paragraph: 1

  1. Write a topic sentence that defines the problem
    1. Describe what the problem is
    2. Provide examples and reasons that show why the problem is important
    3. Show how the problem affects our lives

Body Paragraph: 2

  1. Write a topic sentence that defines the solution: individual level
    1. Explain why this solution is good
    2. Provide steps on how the solution can be implemented
    3. Show how the solution solves the problem

Body Paragraph: 3

  1. Write a topic sentence that defines the solution: community level
    1. Explain why this solution is good
    2. Provide steps on how the solution can be implemented
    3. Show how the solution solves the problem

Conclusion

  1. Restate the thesis statement
  2. Summarize main points
  3. Connect solution to our lives
  4. Final thought

Research Your Topic

  1. Research your topic at the library or online
    1. Keep your main idea clear in mind
    2. Find supporting details in books, magazines, or journals
  2. Takes notes on key points
    1. Use 3×5 cards to record facts or quotations you might use
    2. Make sure to add correct citations for future reference

Planning your Thesis Statement

  1. Write a draft for your Thesis Statement.  Your statement should clearly explain the problem and refer to the solutions.  Refer to your freewriting and problem-solution essay chart.
  2. Have a friend check your Thesis Statement for clarity.

Development

Writers often use cause and effect transitions when explaining problem. Below is a list of some helpful transitions to show how one action can affect another.

CausesEffects
because ofthus
due toas a result
as a result oftherefore
in view ofconsequently
sinceas a consequent
seeing thatso

Revising Check List

Use the following questions to check your essay.

  1. Does the essay have a hook in the introduction? Is it effective?
  2. Does the first paragraph introduce the main idea (thesis)? Does the thesis state clearly the problem and refer to possible solutions?
  3. Does the essay use a point-by-point or blocking pattern?
  4. Identify language that is vague.
  5. Does the essay use a variety of sentence structures; simple, compound, complex, compound-complex?
  6. Is the essay organized clearly using transitions to build cohesion?
  7. Does each paragraph have a clear topic sentence that describes the main idea of the paragraph?
  8. Do the sentences in each paragraph support the topic sentence of the paragraph?
  9. Does the conclusion restate the thesis and leave a closing remark?
  10. Are there any errors in grammar, punctuation, and mechanics, such as comma splices, run-on sentences, and fragments.

Check for the use of Gerunds and Infinitives

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IELTS Problem Solution Essays

Problem solution essays are a type of essay question sometimes given to you in the test. 

In this type of essay you need to discuss the problems with regards to a particular topic and then suggest possible solutions to these problems.

One of the first things you want to make sure that you are able to do is identfy one of these questions when it arises. 

Here are some examples of this type of question.




Problem Solution Essay Questions:

Overpopulation of urban areas has led to numerous problems.

Identify one or two serious ones and suggest ways that governments and individuals can tackle these problems.


Nowadays many people have access to computers on a wide basis and a large number of children play computer games.

What are the negative impacts of playing computer games and what can be done to minimize the bad effects?


The internet has transformed the way information is shared and consumed, but it has also created problems that did not exist before.

What are the most serious problems associated with the internet and what solutions can you suggest?


In the developed world, average life expectancy is increasing.

What problems will this cause for individuals and society?

Suggest some measures that could be taken to reduce the impact of ageing populations.

An important note. Some essays ask for reasons and solutions, not problems and solutions. Writing about a reason (or cause) is not the same as writing about a problem.

Check these model essays to see the difference.




IELTS Problem Solution Essay Example 

In order to understand these types of problem solution essays further and how to organize your writing, we'll look at a problem solution example essay:

The internet has transformed the way information is shared and consumed, but it has also created problems that did not exist before.

What are the most serious problems associated with the internet and what solutions can you suggest?

Model Answer

The enormous growth in the use of the internet over the last decade has led to radical changes to the way that people consume and share information. Although serious problems have arisen as a result of this, there are solutions.

One of the first problems of the internet is the ease with which children can access potentially dangerous sites. For example, pornography sites are easily accessible to them because they can register with a site and claim to be an adult. There is no doubt that this affects their thoughts and development, which is a negative impact for the children and for society. Another major problem is the growth of online fraud and hacking. These days, there are constant news stories about government and company websites that have been hacked, resulting in sensitive information falling into the hands of criminals.

It is important that action is taken to combat these problems. Governments should ensure that adequate legislation and controls are in place that will prevent young people from accessing dangerous sites, such as requiring more than simply confirming that you are an adult to view a site. Parents also have a part to play. They need to closely monitor the activities of their children and restrict their access to certain sites, which can now be done through various computer programs. Companies must also improve their onsite IT security systems to make fraud and hacking much more difficult by undertaking thorough reviews of their current systems for weaknesses.

To conclude, the internet is an amazing technological innovation that has transformed people’s lives, but not without negative impacts. However, with the right action by individuals, governments and businesses, it can be made a safe place for everyone.

(285 words)




Writing about Problems

From the problem solution essay, look at the problems paragraph, and answer the following questions (then click on the link below to see the answers):

  1. How many problems are discussed?
  2. What are they?
  3. What expressions are used to introduce the problems?
  4. How are the problems illustrated further?
  5. What results are discussed for each problem?

Show / hide answers

1) How many problems are discussed?

2

2) What are they?

children can access potentially dangerous sites

growth of online fraud and hacking

3) What expressions are used to introduce the problems?

One of the first problems of the internet is...

Another major problem is...

4) How are the problems illustrated further?

For example, pornography sites are easily accessible to them because they can register with a site and claim to be an adult.

These days, there are constant news stories about government and company websites that have been hacked.

5) What results are discussed for each problem?

There is no doubt that this affects their thoughts and development, which is a negative impact for the children and for society.

...resulting in sensitive information falling into the hands of criminals.

 

Your answers to these questions should tell you a lot about how to plan and organize a problem paragraph.

You only need two or three problems as remember you do not have much time and you need to explain the problems.

When you brainstorm your ideas for problem solution essays, think about (a) what the problem is (b) how you will explain it (c) and what the effect is. Your paragraph will then follow this pattern.

Here is an example of the brainstorming for this paragraph:

Problem 1: children can access potentially dangerous sites

  • Explanation / Example: Pornography sites
  • Result: Affects thought & development - negative for children & society

Problem 2: growth of online fraud and hacking

  • Explanation / Example: Evident from the constant news stories
  • Result: Criminals get sensitive information

Here they are illustrated in the paragraph, with the introductory expressions underlined:

One of the first problems of the internet is the ease with which children can access potentially dangerous sites. For example, pornography sites are easily accessible to them because they can register with a site and claim to be an adult. There is no doubt that this affects their thoughts and development, which is a negative impact for the children and for society. Another major problem is the growth of online fraud and hacking. These days, there are constant news stories about government and company websites that have been hacked, resulting in sensitive information falling into the hands of criminals.






Writing about Solutions

Answer the following questions about the solutions paragraph:

  1. How many solutions are given?
  2. What are they?
  3. What three different groups of people does the writer say are responsble for these solutions?
  4. How would the solutions be implemented?
  5. What three modal verb structures are used to make the suggestions?
Show / hide answers

1) How many solutions are given?

3

2) What are they?

adequate legislation and controls

monitor the activities of children / restrict access

improve company IT security systems

3) What three different groups of people does the writer say are responsble for these solutions?

Governments

Parents

Companies

4) How would the solutions be implemented?

Stricter criteria for accessing sites

Using computer programs

Reviewing current IT systems for weaknesses

5) What three modal verb structures are used to make the suggestions?

should

need to

must

Your answers to these questions provide you with some key tips on writing a solutions paragraph. Some of these points are now explained further.

a) The people involved

When you come to brainstorm your solutions, think of the key 'actors' who are involved. It is usually governments and individuals in some way or another.

There may be another group specifically realted to the topic. For example, in this case it is companies and parents. If you are discussing crime it could be the police. If it is violence on TV it could be TV and film producers.

You can then brainstorm your ideas under each 'group' and organize them in the same way.

b) Developing your solutions

Also, try to make sure your solutions are not too simplistic. It's all too easy to make sweeping generalizations about what people can do. For example, look at this idea:

The government should introduce stricter laws.

It it common to see such statements in IELTS problem solution essays with no further explantion. Give more detail about how or why this would work. For example:

Governments should ensure that adequate legislation and controls are in place that will prevent young people from accessing dangerous sites, such as requiring more than simply confirming that you are an adult to view a site.

Some specific detail has now been given on how this solution could work.

b) Modal Verbs

Modal verbs can be used to make suggestions in problem solution essays. These are usually found in solutions paragraphs.

Check out this grammar lesson if you are unsure how to use modal verbs.

Here again is a plan for the problem solution essay for the solutions paragraph:

Solution 1: Governments

  • Idea: Adequate legislation and controls for young people
  • How: More complex website access criteria

Solution 2: Parents

  • Idea: Monitor children and restrict access
  • How: Use a computer program

Solution 3: Companies

  • Idea: Improve IT security systems
  • How: Review current systems in place

Here is the paragraph again. Note how it follows the plan and the clear topic sentence that tells the reader the essay is moving on to discuss solutions (modals verbs are underlined):

It is important that action is taken to combat these problems.Governments shouldensure that adequate legislation and controls are in place that will prevent young people from accessing dangerous sites, such as requiring more than simply confirming that you are an adult to view a site. Parents also have a part to play. They need toclosely monitor the activities of their children and restrict their access to certain sites, which can now be done through various computer programs.Companies mustalso improve their onsite IT security systems to make fraud and hacking much more difficultby undertaking thorough reviews of their current systems for weaknesses.

 

Here is another example of a problem solution essay: Overpopulation

 



 

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