IELTS Problem and Solution Essay

Questions for the writing part of IELTS test demonstrate that people who make them up are not limited in their creative process. Yet, there exist certain patterns that definitely should be followed. As a result, several types of part-two essays may be distinguished. One of them is a problem solution essay, which is simple but causes many troubles to the test takers. Fortunately, there are the ways to avoid them.

Analyze the Task

The first thing you need to do in order to write a proper problem solution essay is to consider the question asked meticulously. If you skip this step, you will definitely fail to meet an examiner's expectations. Pay attention to each word of the assignment. They will reveal the topic to discuss and subtopic to focus on. Furthermore, highlight action verbs. They show exactly what you should do, for example, agree/disagree, provide an opinion, list causes and effects, etc. Only when you fully understand what is required and expected from you, you may proceed to generating ideas.

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Produce Ideas

To come up with the ideas to include in a problem solution essay, there are several strategies. Of course, you may opt for commonly used mind mapping and brainstorming. However, being pressed for time and stressed because of the test, you are likely to find either of the methods ineffective. Therefore, the advice here is to help yourself get relaxed. To do it, you may apply an easy 'lunch technique.'

Imagine that you are having lunch with your best friend during a break. Somehow, the conversation starts to revolve around a problematic subject, for example, famine in Africa or illegal immigration in Europe. Under such circumstances, you will definitely think of a few solutions to a problem because the situation is casual. The point of the 'lunch technique' is to simulate these conditions, as they are favorable for mind productivity. In other words, it helps you stop being bothered about the text and start indeed considering solutions. Consequently, you are able to offer a couple of approaches to resolve an issue.

Arrange the Ideas

Now, as you know what to write, check the way to do it. The easiest method is to follow the outline suggested below:

  1. A topic sentence with a problem mentioned.
  2. Explanation of the problem.
  3. The implications of the problem if not resolved.
  4. Example(s) illustrating the scope of the problem.
  5. A topic sentence with a solution.
  6. Explanation of the solution, i.e., the reasons why it is a viable option.
  7. Example(s) supporting the choice.

Test takers might be concerned with the fact that the outline suggests including a single problem and one solution. Of course, there might be more problems and solutions discussed, but one of each is more than enough for a 250 words long essay. Besides, it is much better to expand on one problem and solution rather than superficially touch upon several of them. Finally, you are likely to have no sufficient time to be able to review more than one issue and method to resolve it.

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Common Mistakes

IELTS examiners point out a few mistakes that test takers frequently make if their part-two task is a problem solution essay. Here are the two major ones. The first of them is a failure to expand on ideas. It happens when a person names several problems and lists few solutions, but none of them is actually explained or supported with examples. It is a mistake because an examiner is primarily interested in your ability to elaborate on ideas in English, not your creative potential. Therefore, instead of impressing an examiner with the fertility of your mind, focus on one problem, as well as a solution, and provide relevant examples and details. It will create a much better impression than a bunch of underdeveloped thoughts.

The second major mistake is vagueness, which appears when the step one, i.e., analyzing the task, is skipped or not properly done. If keywords are not distinguished and mulled over, a test taker is likely to provide information that is relevant but not directly connected with the problem. Moreover, it might result in the lack of a link between a problem and solution. Finally, it might lead to the abundance of generalizations. Thus, a question should be well inspected and discussed in sufficient detail. Only then, a mark for the essay will be satisfactory.

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Read more about other types of IELTS essays:

IELTS Two-Part Question Essay IELTS Cons and Pros Essay IELTS Opinion Essay