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Problem/Solution Essay : IELTS Writing

Problem/Solution Essay : IELTS Writing

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IELTS writing has a plethora of essay topics. This section is checked for every minute detail and you must have practised really well, in order to score well.

One type of essay that is often found in the IELTS Writing section is the problem-solution type essay. Here you are presented a problem and is asked to suggest a suitable solution specific to the problem.

Types of essays

There are various types of essays in IELTS Writing task 2. They are :

Identification of the type of essay

Each essay type requires a unique structure to be followed. As a first step, we need to identify the type of the essay. Mostly, problem solution essays will be worded as follows:

  • One major problem faced by large cities is traffic congestion. What do you think the causes are? What solutions can you suggest?
  • The number of endangered species has increased significantly in this century and we find more mass extinctions in this period than in any other period of time. State some reasons for this and provide possible solutions.
  • Overpopulation of urban areas has led to numerous problems. Identify one or two serious ones and suggest ways that the community can tackle these problems.

Mostly, you’ll be asked to write about both the problem, or cause, and the solution to the issue. The first half of the questions state the problem or cause, the second half requires you to find the solutions.

Tips for Solution Essays

Some tips to follow while practising or writing a Solution essay

  • Read and understand the instructions given in the question (sometimes the question might ask to write about the cause of the issue as well).
  • Follow the word count (no less than 250 words)
  • Plan the problems and solution you wish to write about, before starting to write.
  • Start the essay with an introduction paragraph and conclude it with a conclusion paragraph, with the body paragraph between the two.
  • If you’re asked to write about both, cause and the solution, then you can write the cause in one body paragraph and the solution in the next body paragraph.

How to plan and write IELTS problem solution essays?

Firstly, you have to understand the difference between a problem and a cause. It is illustrated in the following example

Problem – Tsunamis occur due to large earthquakes on the seafloor.

Cause – People dump a lot of plastic wastes and other non biodegradable items which leads to global warming which in turn causes disturbance in the seas.

The ‘cause’ is the reason for the ‘problem’.

Why do you need an essay structure?

  • Most common mistakes people make is either writing about the problem in detail and forgetting about the solution or vice-versa. Their essays would not be balanced which will lead to poor scores. 
  • Another common mistake is giving a generalised opinion on the topic. You are expected to be specific.

So you need a structure to follow which is given below :

STRUCTURE OF THE PROBLEM SOLUTION ESSAY

  • Introduction
    • Paraphrase the question
    • Write the main problem and associated solution
  • Main Body Paragraph 1
    • Central idea – State the problem or cause
    • Detailed explanation about the problem
    • Relevant examples, if any
  • Main Body Paragraph 2
    • Central idea – Write the solution
    • Detailed explanation on the solution
    • Relevant examples, if any
  • Conclusion
    • Summarise your opinion. Give recommendations, if any

Step-by-step analysis of the problem solution essay

Here’s the question we’re going to be answering :

Global warming is emerging as a great threat to human survival in the 21st Century and sea levels are continuing to rise at alarming rates. 

What problems are associated with this and suggest some solutions?

How to write an introduction for the above essay?

  • Read the question thoroughly
  • Note down the ideas that come to your mind naturally
  • Vocabulary 

Locate the topic keywords: They will be contained in the statement part of the question. Eg: Global warming is emerging as a great threat to human survival in the 21st Century. So the question is about Global warming.

Other general keywords: They help you to narrow down the question. Eg:  sea levels are continuing to rise at alarming rates. Though there are many effects related to global warming, the rise in sea level is specifically mentioned in the question.

Look for instruction words: Eg: What problems are associated with this and suggest some solutions. So this is a problem and solution essay.

Some Ideas:

Problems  Solutions 
Dumping of industrial wastes into the nearby water bodies. They must be treated, purified and recycled.
Dumping of non-biodegradable wastes in the environment. Stop using plastics.

Choose one of the problems and discuss it in detail. Here’s an example:

Problem : Dumping of industrial wastes into the nearby water bodies.

Solution: They must be treated, purified and recycled.

Vocabulary:

  • Wastewater treatment
  • Biodegradable products
  • Water bodies such as lakes, rivers etc
  • ecosystem

Paraphrasing the question : Rise in sea water level is one of the serious threats posed on the environment due to global warming. 

Outlining the problem and solution : The main reason for this is the letting out of industrial wastes in nearby water bodies and a reliable solution is waste water treatment.

So the introduction is framed :

Rise in sea water level is one of the serious threats posed on the environment due to global warming. The main reason for this is the letting out of industrial wastes in nearby water bodies and a reliable solution is waste water treatment.

The main paragraphs must be organised as follows:

Main body paragraph 1: Letting out of industrial wastes in nearby water bodies

Main body paragraph 2: Industrial wastewater treatment

Main body paragraph 1 : 

Central idea: Industries are increasing in number.

Explanation: There are no strict rules in place regarding the environment. So industries let out their wastes into the nearby water bodies such as lakes, rivers etc which affects the respective eco-system and thereby leading to more serious issues.

Example: As installing a wastewater treatment plant is an additional burden and is costly, it is easier to let the waste water into the nearby water bodies as nobody questions this. 

The completed main body paragraph 1 will look like this :

Industries are increasing in number. There are no strict rules in place regarding the environment. So industries let out their wastes into the nearby water bodies such as lakes, rivers etc which affects the respective eco-system and thereby leading to more serious issues.As installing a wastewater treatment plant is an additional burden and is costly, it is easier to let the waste water into the nearby water bodies as nobody questions this.

Main body paragraph 2 : 

Central idea: Installing Industrial waste water treatment plants could be beneficial to the environment.

Explanation: Industrial wastewater treatment illustrates the processes used for treating wastewater that is produced by industries into a by-product. The treated industrial wastewater may be reused or released to a sanitary sewer.

Examples: There are proven records for reducing water pollution after wastewater treatment.

The completed main body paragraph 2 will look like this :

Installing Industrial waste water treatment plants could be beneficial to the environment and helps in reducing global warming effects. Industrial wastewater treatment illustrates the processes used for treating wastewater that is produced by industries into a by-product. The treated industrial wastewater may be reused or released to a sanitary sewer.There are proven records for reducing water pollution after wastewater treatment.

Conclusion:

You need to sum up all that you have said in the previous paragraphs. Use words like In summary, to summarise, to conclude or as a conclusion etc. You can give recommendations, if any.

Conclusion will look like this:

In summary, every industry should have a wastewater treatment plant installed to treat their waste water which will reduce water pollution and thereby benefiting the environment. This will help reduce global warming and ultimately prevents rise in sea water levels.

So the completed essay will look like this :

Rise in sea water level is one of the serious threats posed on the environment due to global warming. The main reason for this is the letting out of industrial wastes in nearby water bodies and a reliable solution is waste water treatment.

Industries are increasing in number. There are no strict rules in place regarding the environment. So industries let out their wastes into the nearby water bodies such as lakes, rivers etc which affects the respective eco-system and thereby leading to more serious issues.As installing a wastewater treatment plant is an additional burden and is costly, it is easier to let the waste water into the nearby water bodies as nobody questions this.

Installing Industrial waste water treatment plants could be beneficial to the environment and helps in reducing global warming effects. Industrial wastewater treatment illustrates the processes used for treating wastewater that is produced by industries into a by-product. The treated industrial wastewater may be reused or released to a sanitary sewer.There are proven records for reducing water pollution after wastewater treatment.

In summary, every industry should have a wastewater treatment plant installed to treat their waste water which will reduce water pollution and thereby benefiting the environment. This will help reduce global warming and ultimately prevents rise in sea water levels.

Here are some examples for Problem/Solution essays:

Written By

Sowmya is a content writer and is passionate about her job. She currently works on editing and writing engaging content for IELTS Material. She also has experience in the Software Testing Industry and has worked with Wipro for five and a half years.

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