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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.

Examples of 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:

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):

  • How many problems are discussed?
  • What are they?
  • What expressions are used to introduce the problems?
  • How are the problems illustrated further?
  • What results are discussed for each problem?

Show / hide answers

1) How many problems are discussed?

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:

  • How many solutions are given?
  • What three different groups of people does the writer say are responsble for these solutions?
  • How would the solutions be implemented?
  • What three modal verb structures are used to make the suggestions?

1) How many solutions are given?

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
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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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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 :

ielts problem solution essay samples

  • 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)

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Problem Solution Essay IELTS: Topics & Sample Questions

  • Updated On December 12, 2023
  • Published In IELTS Preparation 💻

Problem and solution essay IELTS or cause and solution essay IELTS is a common type of essay question asked in IELTS Writing Task 2 Exam. Herein, a problem is presented to the candidate and you are asked to suggest relevant, specific, and possible solutions regarding the same.

Table of Contents

You can either write about 2 problems with both their solutions or discuss one major problem and one solution. As long as you extend and explain your ideas, you will be able to communicate your thoughts to the examiner. Maintain a formal tone throughout your essay. In a problem and solution essay IELTS might ask the candidate to discuss any of the following:

  • Cause of the problem
  • Effect of a problem
  • Methods to prevent the problem
  • Possible and effective solutions to the problem

Problem Solution Essay IELTS

Problem Solution Essay Question: Evaluation Factors

IELTS writing tests are evaluated across 4 main factors or areas when your IELTS band scores are calculated. These areas are:

  • Achievement of the task – The examiner notices here to what extent you have addressed all the parts of the task with explained and well-developed ideas.
  • Cohesion and Coherence – The logical flow and organization of your ideas and information, are examined here. The examiner notices whether the essay has a logical progression of thoughts.
  • Lexical Resource – The vocabulary used in the essay and its accuracy is examined here. You should use lexical items with sophistication.
  • Grammatical accuracy and range – Lastly, the examiner evaluates whether the candidate has used the grammatical structures accurately. Sentences with sophisticated clauses and a clear flow should be used.

Tips to Create an IELTS Problem Solution Essay Structure

While structuring the essay in your head, make sure to use a proper approach for these questions. The steps to structure the essays are:

Analyze the question thoroughly

Analyzing the question is a crucial part of answering any IELTS writing essay questions. You can analyze the question in the best way through three main things:

  • Keywords : These are the specific words that inform you about the general topic.
  • Micro Keywords : These keywords identify the parts of the general topic that the examiner wants you to focus on. They generally give an opinion by emphasizing a sub-category of the topic.
  • Action Words : Instruction words or action words make it clear for the candidates what the examiner wants them to do.

Think of Ideas

Now that the purpose of the question is clear to you, form a specific idea for the essay in your head. For each problem you think of, identify a direct solution for the same.

Follow the structure & write down the essay

Write down the essay by ensuring to follow a proper structure, including an introduction, two body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The essay should include examples and discuss possible solutions.

Also Read: Latest 50+ IELTS Essay Topics in 2022

Problem Solution IELTS Essay Pattern

A basic four-paragraph structure should be used to structure the problem solution IELTS essays. The structure is as follows:

Paragraph 1 – Introduction

In the introduction paragraph, you can first paraphrase the statement part of the question and outline the ideas to be discussed in the essay further. Paraphrasing the questions means rephrasing the sentence without changing its meaning using synonyms. The outline sentence helps the examiner to understand what they can expect from the essay and thus ensure clarity. Cohesion and clarity play an important role in the scoring of the essay.

Paragraph 2 – Problems

In the second paragraph, state the problems you thought of and then explain the first problem and the second problem in the second half of the essay thoroughly.

Paragraph 3 – Solutions

In the third paragraph, list down the solutions to the problems listed above, the first solution with its examples, and then the second solution along with relevant examples that support the solution.

Paragraph 4 – Conclusion

In the conclusion paragraph, cover all the important points discussed in the above 3 paragraphs and end your essay.

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Problem Solution Essay IELTS: Topics & Sample Questions

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Problem Solution Essay IELTS: Topics & Sample Questions

Problem Solution Essay IELTS: Key Points to Remember

Some of the main points to remember while attempting the problem solution essay questions in IELTS are:

  • You have only 40 minutes to complete the essay writing task, and you have to write a minimum of 250 words.
  • Use linking words, collocations, and phrases to ensure a flow in the essay.
  • If you are using any facts or statistical data, make sure it is accurate and reliable.
  • Make sure that the introduction is clear and engaging. It helps the examiner to get a sense of what will be discussed in the essay further.
  • Use refined and accurate grammar and vocabulary, which will help the examiner understand your proficiency in the language.
  • Provide relevant examples to explain your content. An explanation of your opinions is the best way to ensure a higher IELTS score.
  • Identify the keywords and secondary keywords. Relate them with the problems and the solutions, and make sure to include the keywords in the content. 
  • Plan the problems you are going to discuss in your head and the possible solutions before writing them down.
  • The paragraphs should be ideally balanced by discussing the problems in one body paragraph and solutions in the second body paragraph.

Also Read: Updated List Vocabulary for IELTS 2022

Common Mistakes

Though problem solution essay IELTS is highly asked in the exam, there are some common mistakes that are made by the candidates. Some of these mistakes that a candidate can avoid while attempting these types of questions are:

  • Candidates often do not expand on their ideas and often list down a lot of problems and solutions. The examiners mark the essays on the basis of the explanation of the problems and solutions listed. It is usually advised to pick a problem or two along with their solutions and then explain them with relevant examples.
  • Another common mistake by the candidates is writing indirectly about solutions that are not directly related to the questions. You should opt for concrete ideas rather than writing a generalized answer. Identify the keywords and the micro-keywords from the question and try to include those in the topic.
  • Many people often list down good problems but fail to link them with the solutions. Each problem should have a directly linked solution that actually solves the problem.
  • Learn to identify the problem and solution and causes and solution questions as both of them might look similar but have a certain difference in how they are to be structured.
  • Avoid writing in absolute terms by using qualifiers which ensure that your sentences look like claims rather than proven facts.

Problem Solution Essay IELTS Sample Questions

There are many themes for the problem solution essay topics IELTS related to various problems. Some of the problem solution essay IELTS topics questions for your practice are as given below:

Theme 1 – Cities

  • Nowadays, it is getting difficult for people to enjoy their lives in cities. Why do you think this is? What can the government do to make life in cities more enjoyable?
  • In large cities, the issue of overpopulation has been a significant cause of concern which leads to a lack of jobs and traffic congestion. What is the cause of this? How can government help in solving this problem?
  • In many cities and urban areas around the world, crime is increasing. What is the cause of this? How can governments help to prevent the crimes?

Theme 2 – Technology & the internet

  • People from older generations face difficulty in using new technology. What is the cause behind this? What are some possible solutions to this problem?
  • A lot of children spend time on social media surfing the internet and playing video games which hurts their studies and grades and makes them experience loneliness and health problems such as obesity. What is the reason behind this? What can the parents do to prevent it?
  • The internet has changed the way information is consumed and shared among people. What are some serious issues a person can face associated with the internet, and what solutions can be implemented?

Theme 3 – Environment or Climate Change

  • Sea levels are steadily rising in recent years. What do you think is the reason behind this? How can it be fixed?
  • Many countries around the world are suffering from poor water and air quality, which is harmful to all of us, especially older people. What is the cause of this? How can it be solved?
  • Climate change and global warming is a serious threat the world is facing, which is reducing the average life expectancy. What are some causes of this? How can governments and healthcare sectors solve this problem?

IELTS Advantages & Disadvantage Essay Topics   

Foreign Language IELTS Sample Essay

A sample of the Problem Solution Essay Example Question IELTS for Writing Test 2 is given below for your reference:

As social media continue to develop, more and more youngsters have unsupervised access to all the contents available over the internet in order to meet and chat with friends and even strangers, which can lead to some potentially dangerous situations. What solutions can you suggest to deal with this problem?

IELTS Problem Solution Essay

In the modern era, a large number of young people use the internet to meet and talk with friends via social media. Due to social media and the growth of the internet in the 21st century, many children are facing issues related to their health and the expression of their feelings as a result of the lack of face-to-face interaction. This issue can be solved by opting for some measures.

To begin with, there are many people all over the world who use the internet for their work or education purposes. As a result, everyone uses it until late at night, which can lead to a variety of health issues, such as vision problems from constantly staring at computers or mobile phones and spinal curvatures from excessive sitting in front of computers and laptops. Secondly, due to the nature of online meetings and conversations, there is a lack of face-to-face interaction among people due to which youngsters are unable to express their feelings due to the loss of peer interaction.

Parents can help in resolving these issues by blocking the access of children to websites that are not children-friendly. In addition to that, parents can encourage children to go out and play instead of being on the internet all day in exchange for a surprise or more quality time. Social media companies can also contribute to the solution by restricting the access of children to the platforms on the basis of their age, which can protect them from content that is not suitable for them. For example, the social media platform Facebook recently updated its privacy policies to restrict access to children under the age of ten.

To summarize, young people use the internet to interact with various types of people online without any supervision, which gives them a sense of freedom and confidence in sending unethical messages to others. To stay out of it, parents should monitor their communication and provide suitable guidance and advice to their children.

Problem Solution Essay IELTS is a type of question that includes problems for which you have to find the solutions through a logical flow of thought. 40 minutes are given to complete the 250 words essay writing task. The structure of the essay for a problem-solving question includes an introduction, discussion of problems, possible solutions with examples, and a conclusion. 

The introduction has an overview of the essay. The main body paragraphs discuss the problems along with their direct solutions and examples. The conclusion paragraph summarizes your opinion on the task. You need to discuss the problems caused by the issues and the measures to reduce or eliminate the problem altogether.

You do not just need to state problems and solutions but also need to explain the thought process to reach that solution. Make sure the essay is readable and has a logical flow and cohesion.

You can practice for the Problem Solution Essay IELTS by writing on various topics or themes available on the internet ranging from the internet, cities, poverty, problems of rural areas or developing countries, lifestyle in developed countries, success, news, etc.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can i write the problem and solution both in one paragraph.

Ans. No, you can not write the problem and solution both in the same paragraph as this will affect the flow and understanding of the essay. The cause and the solution or the problems and the solution will both be discussed in two different paragraphs of the main body.

How can I identify a problem solution essay type?

Ans. In the problem solution essay questions, a topic is given, and you will have to discuss the issues or problems faced in regards to that particular topic. Often, these questions can also ask for your opinion on a particular issue.

What is the difference between a cause solution essay and a problem solution essay?  

Ans. Problem solution essay and cause solution essay are highly similar. However, there is a subtle difference between the two. A problem solution essay question asks about the problem with regards to a particular topic, whereas the cause solution essay asks about the causes behind an issue. The problem is to be mentioned in both the essays. However, in the cause solution essay, you should focus more on the cause of that particular statement.

How can I write a solution paragraph? 

Ans. First of all, for a solution paragraph, you need to develop ideas related to the given problem in your mind to check whether or not your ideas are directly relevant to the problem. After then, you have to decide how you will explain the solution to all the problems in a precise manner. After then, develop your solution with the help of a detailed explanation.

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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

ielts problem solution essay samples

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.

ielts problem solution essay samples

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.

ielts problem solution essay samples

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.

ielts problem solution essay samples

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

Finished IELTS problem solution essay.

ielts problem solution essay samples

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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An Ultimate Guide to Writing IELTS Problem Solution Essays

Janice Thompson

Updated On Nov 08, 2023

An Ultimate Guide to Writing IELTS Problem Solution Essays

Limited-Time Offer : Access a FREE 10-Day IELTS Study Plan!

  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Identifying IELTS Problem Solution Essays
  • 3 How to Write a Problem Solution Essay IELTS?
  • 4.0.1 Problem Solution Essay Example with Structure
  • 4.0.2 Introduction:
  • 4.0.3 Body Paragraph 1:
  • 4.0.4 Body Paragraph 2:
  • 4.0.5 Conclusion:
  • 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid in IELTS Problem Solution Essays
  • 6 Tips for IELTS Problem Solution Essays
  • 7 Problem Solution Essay IELTS Topics:

Introduction

The IELTS problem solution essays are a type of IELTS writing task 2 essay that asks you to discuss a problem and propose possible solutions. These problem solution essays are designed to assess your ability to identify, analyze, and evaluate problems, as well as your ability to develop and articulate effective solutions.

The IELTS problem solution essay topics can be drawn from a variety of sources and are based on real-world situations and issues. Therefore, to do well in writing task 2, it is important to be familiar with the range of IELTS problem solution essay topics.

Identifying IELTS Problem Solution Essays

Each essay type has a unique structure, so it’s important to identify the type of essay you’re writing before you start. Problem solution essays in IELTS are often worded as follows:

It is important to be able to identify the common synonyms, words, and phrases used in problem solution questions. Here are the key words and their synonyms used in the examples above:

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

However, you will mostly be asked to write about both the problem and its solution. The first part of the question will state the problem or cause, and the second part will ask you to identify solutions.

How to Write a Problem Solution Essay IELTS?

To plan and write a problem solution essay IELTS, you can follow these steps:

  • Understand the question

The first step is to carefully read the question and understand what is being asked. You should identify the problem, the cause(s) of the problem, and the required solution(s).

  • Brainstorm your ideas

Once you understand the question, take some time to brainstorm your ideas. What are the different aspects of the problem? What are the possible causes? What are the different solutions that could be implemented?

  • Organize your ideas

Once you have a good understanding of the problem and its possible solutions, it is time to organize your ideas into a logical structure.

  • Write your essay

When writing your essay, be sure to use clear and concise language. Avoid using complex sentences and jargon. You should also support your claims with evidence from credible sources.

  • Proofread your essay

Once you have finished writing your essay, be sure to proofread it carefully for any errors in grammar, spelling, or punctuation.

Now that we have understood how to write a problem solution essay, let’s have a look at the structure of a problem solution essay.

Enroll in our free  IELTS online coaching  today and learn how to identify and write problem solution essays like a champ!

Structure of Problem Solution Essay

Let’s do an example problem solution essay to understand the above mentioned structure.

Problem Solution Essay Example with Structure

Introduction:.

  • Before you begin writing your problem solution essay,  read  the question and  identify  the problem/ solution.
  • Note down the ideas that come to your mind naturally. For example, look at the table below.
  • 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.
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Biodegradable products
  • Water bodies such as lakes, rivers etc

You should paraphrase the question and outline the problem and solution in your introduction as mentioned below:

Body Paragraph 1:

The body paragraph 1 must be organised as follows:

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

Body Paragraph 2:

The body paragraph 2 must be organised as follows:

  • Main body paragraph 2:  Industrial wastewater treatment
  • 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 :

Conclusion:

  • Make sure to sum up all that has been in the previous paragraphs.
  • Use words like in summary, to summarise, to conclude, or as a conclusion, etc.

The final conclusion will look like this:

Therefore, the finished essay will have the following structure:

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Common Mistakes to Avoid in IELTS Problem Solution Essays

Following are some of the Common mistakes that should be avoided in IELTS problem solution essays

  • Not understanding the difference between a problem and its causes.
  • Trying to include too many ideas in the essay, without developing them fully.
  • Not considering both sides of the argument equally.
  • Not linking the problems to the solutions.
  • Not being specific enough in the discussion of the problems and solutions.

Read:  All Useful IELTS Writing Lessons & Websites

Tips for IELTS Problem Solution Essays

Here are some of the tips to follow while practicing or writing an IELTS Problem Solution Essays:

  • 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 solutions 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.

Pro tip:  To avoid a low score in IELTS problem solution essays, focus on one or two problems and identify specific solutions. Explain the problems and solutions in detail, with examples.

Check out some of the  Recent Writing Task 2 Essay Topics for IELTS 2023

Problem Solution Essay IELTS Topics:

Here are some sample IELTS problem solution essay topics:

Get the inside scoop on how to write a high-scoring IELTS problem solution essay from our IELTS expert in our free webinar.  Book your Seat Now !

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I write cause and solution in the same paragraph?

How to write a solution paragraph?

What is the difference between a Problem solution essay and a cause solution essay?

How do you analyze a problem solution essay?

How to identify a problem solution essay?

Practice IELTS Writing Task 2 based on Essay types

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Janice Thompson

Janice Thompson

Soon after graduating with a Master’s in Literature from Southern Arkansas University, she joined an institute as an English language trainer. She has had innumerous student interactions and has produced a couple of research papers on English language teaching. She soon found that non-native speakers struggled to meet the English language requirements set by foreign universities. It was when she decided to jump ship into IELTS training. From then on, she has been mentoring IELTS aspirants. She joined IELTSMaterial about a year ago, and her contributions have been exceptional. Her essay ideas and vocabulary have taken many students to a band 9.

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ielts problem solution essay samples

Posted on Jul 8, 2021

I hope the sample questions will help me ace the exam!!! Thank you for the resources.

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IELTS Solution Essay Sample Questions

Below is a list of IELTS solution essay sample questions. These types of essays are usually ask you to either give solutions or causes and solutions.

IELTS Solution Essay Tips

  • read the instructions carefully – do you need to give only solutions or both causes and solutions
  • spend time planning your main points and supporting points
  • put the causes in one body paragraph and the solutions in another
  • use flexible language of cause and consequences
  • use a safe solution essay model to follow

Solution Essay Questions

In many developing countries, there is a problem with declining quality of air and water from both industry and construction. What measures could be taken to prevent this?
With the development of social media, more and more youngsters are being allowed unsupervised access to the internet in order to meet and chat with friends which can lead to potentially dangerous situations. What solutions can you suggest to deal with this problem?
Overpopulation in many major urban centers around the world is a major problem. What are the causes of this? How can this problem be solved?
More and more wild animals are on the verge of extinction and others are on the endangered list. What are the reasons for this? What can be done to solve this problem?
Many small, local shops are closing as they are unable to compete with large supermarkets in the area. How does this effect local communities? How could this situation be improved?
An increasing number of professionals, such as doctors and teachers, are leaving their own poorer countries to work in developed countries. What problems does this cause? What solutions can you suggest to deal with this situation?

Other IELTS Essay Questions

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  1. How To Write A Problem And Solution Essay

    ielts problem solution essay samples

  2. IELTS problem solution essay structure, Writing task 2, academic IELTS

    ielts problem solution essay samples

  3. 008 Essay Example Writing Problem Solution Transition To Academic

    ielts problem solution essay samples

  4. Causes/Problems and Solutions Essay

    ielts problem solution essay samples

  5. IELTS Solution Essay on Society With Sample Answer

    ielts problem solution essay samples

  6. Problem And Solution Essay

    ielts problem solution essay samples

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  1. IELTS Essay(Academic/General): Problem/Solution Essay Type

  2. IELTS writing task 1 Problem and solution templet. #ielts #ieltswritingtask2 #ieltswritingtips

  3. Writing Task 2- Problems/Causes & Solutions Essay

  4. IELTS Task 2

  5. IELTS Writing Lecture with sample answer (TASK 2 / Advantage and Disadvantage)

  6. Problem And Solution Essay

COMMENTS

  1. IELTS Problem Solution Essay Model Answer

    by Liz 97 Comments Below is an IELTS model answer for the IELTS problem solution essay in writing task 2. There are five types of essays in IELTS writing task 2 and the “solution” type essay is a common one. However, make sure you follow the instructions.

  2. Problems and Solutions essays - British Council | Take IELTS

    Procedure: introduce the focus of the lesson: Academic Writing Task 2 – Problems and Solutions essays. elicit environmental problems in general or show the class some pictures related to overfishing and elicit the topic. give students a copy of Worksheet 1 and draw attention to the essay question.

  3. IELTS Problem Solution Essay Strategies and Tips

    Examples of 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.

  4. Problem/solution essay in IELTS writing - IELTS-up

    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?

  5. Problem Solution Essay IELTS: Topics & Sample Questions

    Updated On December 12, 2023 Published In IELTS Preparation 💻 Problem and solution essay IELTS or cause and solution essay IELTS is a common type of essay question asked in IELTS Writing Task 2 Exam. Herein, a problem is presented to the candidate and you are asked to suggest relevant, specific, and possible solutions regarding the same.

  6. IELTS Problem Solution Essays – Step-by-Step Guide – IELTS Jacky

    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.

  7. An Ultimate Guide to Writing IELTS Problem Solution Essays

    Introduction The IELTS problem solution essays are a type of IELTS writing task 2 essay that asks you to discuss a problem and propose possible solutions. These problem solution essays are designed to assess your ability to identify, analyze, and evaluate problems, as well as your ability to develop and articulate effective solutions.

  8. IELTS Solution Essay Sample Questions

    Below is a list of IELTS solution essay sample questions. These types of essays are usually ask you to either give solutions or causes and solutions. IELTS Solution Essay Tips read the instructions carefully – do you need to give only solutions or both causes and solutions spend time planning your main points and supporting points