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Problem Solving Essay Ielts

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

 



 

IELTS Writing Task 2: Question

Try this problem solution essay about the internet. I’m sure you can think of many problems but I suggest you write about only two. You have only 40 minutes in which to write your answer.

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?


IELTS Writing Task 2: Model Answer

There is no doubt that the internet has revolutionised communication and information-sharing in the same way that the telegraph and the television did before it. However, societies have had to cope with unanticipated new problems, including crimes which traditional laws are powerless to prevent. This essay will address some of the illegal acts enabled by the internet and propose solutions.

To begin with, the global scale of the internet means that national laws are no longer adequate to control what happens online. Take restrictions on legal reporting, for example. In some countries, the media is prohibited from revealing details of a defendant’s past in case this prejudices a fair trial. However, such restrictions are no longer enforceable now that information may be freely published in other countries and accessed by all. The only solution here, it seems, is to adopt global standards. Since the internet traverses national borders, the flow of information can only be controlled if all nations agree on what can and cannot be shared.

Another problem concerns anonymity, as internet users can easily conceal their identity and even impersonate others. Many crimes such as identity theft and child abuse result from the ease with which criminals can operate anonymously online. Some have proposed a system of online identification, similar to a passport, which would allow all internet users to be verified and traced. I believe this idea should be explored further, though there are clearly concerns about the security of those who use the internet to protest against oppressive regimes.

In conclusion, the only long-term solution to the problem of internet crime is greater international cooperation. Since the problem is global is scale, the solution must also be global. A new agency of the United Nations should be created to tackle the problems described here.

(298 words, IELTS 8.5)


Why does this Task 2 answer get an IELTS Band 8 score?

Task response: The model answer fully answers the question by stating two distinct problems caused by the internet together with relevant solutions to each problem. Each problem is illustrated with examples. The style is appropriate to academic writing and the answer is at least 250 words in length.

Coherence and cohesion: The introduction to this problem solution essay ends with a clear thesis statement. Each body paragraph deals with a different problem and its solution. Examples are signalled with logical connectives like for example and such as. The conclusion contains a clear recommendation which follows from the body.

Lexical resource: There are many instances of higher-level vocabulary such as prohibited, verified and oppressive. Examples of good collocation include prejudices a fair trial and tackle the problems. There are no spelling errors and correct word forms are used throughout.

Grammatical range and accuracy: The candidate uses a wide range of conjunctions to link ideas into more complex sentences. Where necessary, the candidate uses a shorter sentence to emphasise a point more strongly. Verb tenses, including modals, are always accurate. Punctuation is handled skillfully throughout.


Teacher’s Note

An IELTS problem solution essay will usually ask for problems and solutions (note plural), so try to include two of each. This leads logically to an essay with two body paragraphs, like the model answer above. Try to describe each solution together with the problem it solves in order to be as coherent as possible. And remember, your solutions don’t have to be original, or even realistic, in order to get a high score. The IELTS examiner is only interested in your use of language, not in the quality of your ideas.

Would you like me to check your own answer to this IELTS Writing task? You can take my online IELTS Writing Practice Test anywhere in the world and get a score, corrections, and feedback in just 48 hours. Read more.


 

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