IELTS Writing Task 2 Problem and Solution Topics/Questions 2024
The list of Task 2 Problem and Solution topics that were added by IELTS student in 2024 . These Problem and Solution questions could be repeated from previous months. Keep in mind that the provided Problem and Solution questions are not predictions. The collection of Problem and Solution questions is updated every hour. Choose one of the topics and start practicing answering this type of question to prepare for the IELTS exam and to get a good grade.
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- Essay Task 2
How to Write Problem Solution Essay in IELTS
- Essay Types
- Double Question
- Advantage Disadvantage
- Problem Solution
- Essay Length
IELTS problem-solution tasks are the easiest of the IELTS essay types as you are required to explain the given problem(s) and provide some relevant suggestions/solutions. In this IELTS Task 2 Writing guide, we will take a look at how to produce a well-written essay for an IELTS writing task 2 problem and solution task.
Table of Contents
1.1 understanding the question, 1.2 example problem/solution questions.
- Essay Structure for Problem/Solution Essays
- 3.1 Identify key words and phrases
3.2 Organise your ideas
3.3 identify vocabulary, 4.1 introduction, 4.2 main body paragraphs, 4.3 conclusion.
- 5.1 Complete the sample problem/solution essay
5.2 Problem Solution Sample Essay
1. problem/solution overview.
A problem and solution essay is a common type of IELTS writing task 2 essay question .
Remember, there are five main types of writing task 2 questions:
- Double question
You will have 40 minutes to write at least 250 words which you use to explain one or more of the following
- A common problem/ problems in the world
- A cause/causes of a problem
- A possible solution/solutions
There are a few different ways that a problem/solution question may be worded and it is important to understand exactly what you are being asked to do.
Here are the three main types of problem/solution question aims:
- Write about a problem and possible solutions to that problem
- Write about a cause of a problem and possible solutions
- Only write about the solutions
And here are some ways the question may be worded for each aim:
- What problems arise from this and how can they be tackled?
- What do you think the causes are? What are the solutions?
- What solution can you suggest to deal with this problem?
Identifying common synonyms in the instruction words will also help you to identify the aim:
Problem : Situation; resulting in…; issue
Cause : Reason; why
The only solution : address; present; solve; improve; tackle; remedy; deal with
Take the time to read the question carefully! It is a common mistake to answer the wrong question.
Here are some example problem/solution questions. Try to work out what the aim is for each question:
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?
Also, read the following IELTS Essay Writing Guides
- IELTS Discussion Type Questions
- Double Question IELTS Essay Topics
- Opinion-based Task 2 IELTS Guide
- IELTS Advantage Disadvantage Essay Type
Overpopulation of urban areas has led to numerous problems. Identify two serious ones and suggest ways that governments and individuals can tackle these problems.
One problem faced by almost every large city is traffic congestion What do you think the causes are? What solutions can you suggest?
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 the problem?
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?
2. Essay Structure for Problem/Solution Essays
You will see more than one way to structure a problem/solution IELTS essay. We’ve given you two options to choose from that are nice and easy to follow and enable you to produce a clear and cohesive essay everytime:
Essay structure 1
Essay structure 2
Note that essay structure 2 suggests that it is an option to write about more than one problem and solution . In fact, the essay question will usually ask for problems and solutions in the plural.
However, it is acceptable to write about one problem and solution so that you fully develop your ideas rather than rushing through your essay and missing any important examples or explanations.
Why not time yourself writing an essay in test conditions and see what option works for you!
3. Planning your Problem/Solution Essay
Taking the time to plan your essay will really make a big difference. Read on for some useful tips to help your planning.
3.1 Identify keywords and phrases
It’s a good idea to start your planning by confirming the topic of your essay by locating the topic words .
Here’s the question for our model 9 band writing task 2 answer at the end of this guide:
Some people think that children nowadays are spending an excessive amount of time watching TV or using a computer or mobile phone.
Describe some of the problems that too much screen time can have for children , and what can be done to tackle them .
The topic of this essay is about the amount of time children spend using screens (TV, computer, mobile phones).
By looking at the instruction words , we can see this question also asks for problems and solutions in the plural form (although remember it is ok to focus on a single problem and solution in the exam).
A list is a great way to organise your ideas before you start writing your IELTS essay about problem and solution. Your ideas do not have to be elaborate or in-depth, just put pen to paper and start to jot down some ideas for an IELTS essay. You could choose to only write down ideas you will use in your essay, or you might end up with more than you need (we suggest ticking off the ideas you use to avoid repetition)
We have used a simple bullet point list to note down ideas for our model essay:
- Childhood obesity
- Mental health issues
- Targeted junk food adverts
- Government incentives for active children
- Limited screen time imposed by parents
- Lessons to educate children on the dangers of too much screen time
- Restrictions on adverts at certain times
Writing down any useful vocabulary for IELTS that comes to mind during the planning process could improve your score in Lexical resources . Ask yourself if you know any idioms, collocations or other unusual IELTS essay vocabulary linked to your essay topic.
4. Writing your Problem/Solution Essay
There are three key things to include in your problem/solution introduction:
- Paraphrase the given IELTS statement and question
- State the problem/cause/solution
- State what your essay will do
To successfully paraphrase the statement, you can use synonyms, change the word order or change the word class (e.g from a noun to an adjective). The tricky part is making sure you keep the meaning of the statement the same. Look what we’ve done for our model answer:
You can also briefly state what your essay will do using an outline statement . Here’s an example sentence:
This essay will look at these problems in more detail and propose some solutions.
For each problem or cause you write about, you should create a topic sentence which introduces each main idea.
Here are some possible ways you could structure your topic sentences:
- One major problem connected to _____ is…
- Another issue is that…
- A final problem is the…
- One cause of ____ is …
- One reason for ____ is …
- A further way to explain ____ is …
- One contributing factor to ____ is…
You could also use the structure that + a clause. Here are some examples:
One major problem connected to childrens’ health is lack of exercise .
Another issue is that there are a large amount of junk food advertisements on television aimed at children .
As well as language for problems, you will also need to introduce solutions to these problems. Even though the topic of your essay will be different, you can learn language chunks/sentence starters to do this. Take a look at these examples:
- To deal with this problem, _____ could …
- The way forward might be for _____ to …
- The solution is for people to …
- In order to solve this issue, _____ should …
When you provide a solution, it is a good idea to keep the actor of the sentence more general, for example:
- The government
You can also learn lexical chunks related to solutions to common problems. Here are just a few suggestions for our model answer:
- The government could bring in a law to ban junk food advertising.
- The government could allocate more money to healthy eating campaigns.
- Parents could set aside time in the day to do activities as a family away from screens.
- Schools could employ more physical education teachers to improve students’ fitness levels.
We’ve used the tips above to create the following body paragraphs:
Your conclusion for any IELTS writing task 2 essay is very important as without it, you will not score above a band score 6.0 in Task achievement .
Always make your conclusion easy to identify for the examiner by starting with:
- In conclusion,…
- To conclude,…
- To sum up,…
- In summary,…
Now you will need to paraphrase (again) what you have written for your introduction in your own words. Compare out model answer introduction and conclusion:
You can also include the following points in your conclusion (it is not necessary to include all the points):
- State the seriousness of the problem (we’ve used the phrase ‘ increasingly serious ’)
- Suggest who you think should solve the problem (we’ve gone with a balance between the government and parents )
- Make suggestions about what to do in the future (we’ve kept this general: ‘ reducing the amount of screen time ’)
- State what might happen if nothing is done to solve the problem (again, we’ve kept this general to reduce the word count: ‘ these problems will only intensify ’)
5. Example Problem/Solution Essay and Exercise
Below you will find the complete problem/ solution essay that we have been using throughout this guide, except we have removed some of the keywords.
Your task is to select the missing words and complete the sample answer. Good luck!
5.1 Complete the Sample Problem/Solution Essay
Describe some of the problems that too much screen time can have for children, and what can be done to tackle them.
Nowadays, governments and health experts around the world have become increasingly concerned about the general health of children. They are particularly worried about problems caused by too much time spent in front of a TV, computer or mobile. This essay will look at these problems in more detail and propose some solutions.
One major problem connected to childrens’ health is lack of exercise: in recent years , the amount of time children spend being sedentary in front of a screen has increased drastically, and as a result, childrens’ fitness levels have plummeted. This is a significant problem in the USA, for example , where children spend an increasing amount of time watching a TV screen. To try and solve this problem, governments should implement incentives for children that spend more time being active, such as giving vouchers for sport equipment or free tickets to sporting events.
Another issue is that there are a large amount of junk food advertisements on television aimed at children. This means that children are being targeted to buy unhealthy junk food and processed meals which can lead to weight and other health problems due to the high amounts of fat and sugar in the food. The answer could be for the government to ban these adverts at certain times of the day. If they did this, children would not be subjected to these unhealthy marketing tactics.
To sum up, there is no doubt that the problem of too much screen time is becoming increasingly serious for the youth of today. Unless action is taken urgently, these problems will only intensify. My opinion is that responsibility for reducing the amount of time in front of a screen lies mainly with the government, but also with the parents.
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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:
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.
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 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.
More Task 2 IELTS Lessons:
Writing an IELTS Essay Introduction
Tips on how to write an introduction for an IELTS essay introduction in a quick and easy way.
IELTS Music Essay: Understanding a Complex Question
An IELTS essay about music is used to show you how to answer a more complex IELTS essay question that does not have a clear 'task' given to you.
Tips on How to Score IELTS Band 8 in Writing and Speaking
To score IELTS Band 8 you need to understand exactly what is in the IELTS Band Descriptors for an 8 for writing and speaking first.
Thesis Statement Tips for IELTS Essays
Your thesis statement in an IELTS essay should be written quickly and concisely. Use these tips to do that.
Using Substitution in IELTS to Improve Writing Coherency
You can use substitution in your IELTS essays in order to improve coherency and coherence.
Improving Writing Coherence for IELTS essays
25% of the writing grade is on how you organise your essay so this lesson shows you how to improve your writing coherence.
Requirements for IELTS Band 7 in Writing
Getting to an IELTS Band 7 is a struggle for many candidates. This lesson explains exactly what you have to do to reach this band score.
IELTS Advantage Disadvantage Essay Tips and Strategies
An advantage disadvantage essay is one type of essay that you may get in the test. This lesson shows how to write a pros cons essay.
How to Write an IELTS Essay: The key steps
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How to Identify the Task in an IELTS Essay
Learn how to identify the task in an IELTS task 2 essay question. This is one of the most important steps in responding to an essay question.
Can you use Personal Pronouns in Essays for IELTS?
Learn how to use personal pronouns in essays for IELTS correctly. Can you use "I", "we" and "you"?
Using Pronouns to Improve IELTS Essay Coherency
Find out how to use pronouns to improve your coherency for IELTS task 2 essays.
How to use brainstorming and planning to generate essay ideas.
Brainstorming and planning is a key step in developing your IELTS essay. This lesson has tips on how to coming up with ideas and organising them.
Transitional Phrases for Essays
Learn transitional phrases for essays to get a band 7 or higher in your IELTS writing for coherence and cohesion.
Generating ideas for IELTS essays for writing task 2
Generating ideas for IELTS essays for writing task 2 can be difficult but complex ideas are not expected.
How to Identify the Topic of an IELTS Essay Question
In IELTS you must identify the topic of your essay as this is a key to making sure your essay is on topic.
Writing an IELTS Essay Conclusion
The IELTS essay conclusion is the final part of your IELTS essay. This lesson guides you on how to write a conclusion quickly but effectively.
The 3 Types of IELTS Opinion Essays in IELTS
IELTS opinion essays in IELTS can be placed into three types. This lesson explains the different types and how to analyse these essay questions.
Paragraph Writing for IELTS: Building strong arguments
This paragraph writing lesson provides tips on constructing the best paragraphs for your IELTS essay.
IELTS Task Response - 25% of your essay grade
The IELTS Task Response criteria in the scoring makes up 25% of your band score for your essay.
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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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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.
That’s it. We’ve completed our essay. Here it is with the 4 paragraphs put together.
Finished IELTS problem solution essay.
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.
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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- Task 1 Academic
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- Task 2 (essay)
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
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 :
- problems with backbone (osteoporosis, scoliosis)
- 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:
- 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.
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An Ultimate Guide to Writing IELTS Problem Solution Essays
Updated On Nov 08, 2023
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:
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.
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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
- 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 :
- 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:
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Frequently Asked Questions
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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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Posted on Jul 8, 2021
I hope the sample questions will help me ace the exam!!! Thank you for the resources.
Gurgaon city scape, gurgaon bptp.
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IELTS Problem / Solution Essay Sample (Corrected)
Even though doctors all over the world agree that fast food is bad for people's health, more and more people are eating it..
Why are more people eating fast food?
What can be done about this problem?
There are a lot of people who have argued over whether fast food is still as bad as thought and found in the end that dining of on healthy food could possibly save them from upcoming health problems. However, there is another increasing number of people who do not seem to care so much and consume fast food more often.
On the one hand, it is understood that life tends to be very busy nowadays. Due to a huge revolution in technology, it has opened up many people more choices for many people and the time has become the most valuable resource overall. In order to save more time and rather progress with work than spending too much time for on lunch, the eating time has become to something when many people just want to quickly fill themselves up and get back to work. This is where fast food comes into play as a simple, fast and time-saving solution. One reason why people prefer fast food is that it is fairly easy to obtain. Moreover, it is often cheaper than a proper cooked meal and the expected level of quality is everywhere more or less the same.
On the other hand, fast food does not equal healthy food. This is a major drawback, which has made the society to concern more more concerned about the future of people’s health. I personally believe that keeping people more informed about the disadvantages of fast food would help to a raise awareness of the problem. Therefore, advertising a healthy lifestyle could be one of the first steps to deal for dealing with this issue. Secondly, not only should doctors be the ones who stand for advise on balanced eating, but famous people , as good examples , may well contribute to solving this problem.
In order to save people from health problems, a good and balanced diet is the first thing to concentrate on. Even though many people still prefer fast food, a lot could be done to influence their decisions starting with advertising a healthy lifestyle and setting good examples to follow.
Band Score Estimate (prior to corrections)
- A bit long and a bit discursive; not quite straight-forward enough
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