The Definitive Guide to Writing a Problem Solution Essay

06 February, 2021

13 minutes read

Author:  Josh Carlyle

In this article, we cover the basics of problem solution essay writing. We will explain what a problem and solution essay is in academic and straightforward terms. We shall also cover the four essential components that make this essay coherent. With these four components in mind, we will offer guidance on the outline structure and provide some general writing tips on research and problem solving, as well as some topics and essay samples.

Problem Solution Essay

What is a Problem Solution Essay?

A problem solution essay is a staple of humanities and social science subjects. These essays cover a pressing issue, examine how it causes problems, and offer solutions to these problems. The topic for problem solution essay papers can be incredibly diverse. The problem could be local, regional, or global. It could affect a wide range of people or be part of the discourse on an arcane and obscure aspect of computing.

problem solution essay

If you are wondering how to write a problem solution essay, look no further than its name. The core of a problem solution essay is in the title. In this type of essay, a problem is presented, and a solution is offered. Doing this well requires presenting the issue in an audience-appropriate way and then offering solutions that thoroughly negate any critiques of those solutions. 

4 Components of a Problem Solution Essay

In a problem and solution essay, the following aspects must be included:  

  • The Situation: this opening part is where the foundation of the problem lies. It is not an introduction in the sense that you may be familiar with or an abstract that covers the entirety of your thesis. Rather, it is a short and straightforward briefing that will make a layperson familiar with the situation at hand.
  • The Problem: this part provides specifics of the problem. Detailed dissections of evidence take place here; we’ll summarise those later in the evaluation section. 
  • The Solution: this component covers push-back specific solutions you may encounter. Part of a correct answer is thinking of your opponents’ perspectives and ensuring that they address their assumptions and points.
  • The Evaluation: in this section, it is crucial to write with brevity and wit; this will make your position memorable. Readers will often remember the last part of essays they read, so make sure it represents a microcosm of your essay as a whole. 

These components are the essence of the structure required in a problem solution essay. The actual structure you will work with will require a finer granulation of sections. For instance, in the solution section, the critiques will also need to have a review applied, demonstrating their lack of applicability or irrelevance. 

Problem Solution Essay Outline

The best guide for a problem solution essay outline is the four components mentioned above. Cover the situation, the problem, the solution, and then evaluate both or all sides of the story. 

To drill down further into the outline, you should have an introduction that will set out your paper’s structure. Then you should present the situation. Keep this section free from emotive language. Use it to ensure the reader has all the facts, and imagine that you want everyone reading the paper to be on a level playing field in terms of knowledge and framing of the problem.

In the problem section, you must explain why there is a particular issue. At this point in your essay, ensure that you do not leave the door open to other causes of the problem. Find ways to make the problem something that the reader cares about and wants to solve, but beware of assuming the reader is on your side simply because you’ve said some things and made some points. 

Once the situation has been explained, and the problem elucidated, present your solution. It  should use evidence, and you should be able to explain how it directly relates to the question.  Don’t use ad hominem attacks or go polemic. Unravel the problem with your solution. Take it to step by step and keep your writing composed.

In the evaluation section, you should find your argument’s weaknesses and the views that find fault with your solution.

How To Find Solutions to Your Problems

You can find solutions to your problems by researching them; someone will have asked the question before, or one very similar to it. You can talk to your peers and even conduct polls on social media to gauge the public’s position on various solutions. 

Another way of finding solutions include flipping your perspective. Take the position of the other side and see the world through their gaze. By putting yourself in the opponent’s shoes, you can see weaknesses in your ideas and perhaps adjust them to take on more relevance to more people or factor in an aspect that you had overlooked.

Ultimately, the best way to find solutions is to read and read some more. Try looking in your library if you prefer books to the internet, but don’t leave Google out of it. Using the search engine correctly, you can dig up all kinds of books, papers, and presentations that will be very useful in your studies.

Problem Solution Essay Topics

The list of problem solution essay topics is very long. As mentioned earlier, the problem can be a local issue, affecting a specific demographic or being universal. Regardless of the topic you choose, there are another million waiting for an answer.

To start you off, the climate crisis is an excellent area for debate. 

  • How do we deal with stranded assets in the fossil fuel industry and financial sector? 
  • What should the laws be surrounding new cars run on petrol and diesel? 
  • How should electrification be carried out in developing nations? Is a carbon tax a viable way to reduce emissions? 

Other problem solution essay ideas might include social media’s effect on dopamine levels, gerrymandering in electoral districts, or the working week’s length. 

Problem Solution Essay Examples

Reading previous papers is a fantastic method to improve your grades. Study essays that get top marks and some of the ones which get lower marks. The difference will be apparent in their vocabulary, logic, and evidence. Read a few problem solution essay sample papers but don’t plagiarize them; always cite your sources. Here are a few examples to help you get started: 

https://www.eapfoundation.com/writing/essays/problemsolution/  

https://www.ieltsbuddy.com/problem-solution-essays.html  

Writing Tips for a Problem Solution Essay

An essay is a complex task to complete. That’s why it’s useful to break down the whole into several steps. 

Step one is to conduct some thorough research and planning. If you have free choice over the problem at hand, then start by brainstorming some groups you belong to and decide whether they’re officially mandated ones like a sports team or a club, or broader, like your sex, gender, nationality, or language grouping.

After this, jot down some issues in the groups. Are you struggling to manage the payment plan for your sports hall? Has there been an instance of bullying or shaming in your school? With the topic in mind, move onto research. 

When researching your topic, it’s always useful to remember that there is nothing new under the sun. It is almost definite that similar problems have arisen before, and most solutions already exist.

Then, conduct and compose a literature review on the topic. A literature review is an excellent addition to your essay as a standalone section. It helps to situate your issue within the world and builds relations to other similar problems. 

You may think you have nothing to say about the problem or find it hard to justify your opinion. Well, in the problem solution essay, your voice matters. Always try to back up what you’re saying through evidence and try not to stray into writing a polemic. Yet, passion and emotion are useful tools for framing the problem. Just try not to make these responses the whole essay.

As far as solving problems goes, you can use some general mechanics to come up with solutions. The following paragraphs will present some of these logical mechanics; feel free to use them in your writing:

  • Add something new: this solution works when something is lacking. The problem may be a lack of funding, equipment, or motivation. The assumed problem when using this angle of attack is that there is a lack of resources available. Concrete examples of this could include more teaching assistants in education, longer opening hours at a library, or more significant legislation to protect the environment.
  • Remove something: this is the inverse of the previous point. Inversing is a useful strategy for thinking about problems in general. If something is too crowded or too busy, it might be a solution to limit exposure to something and devise a solution. 
  • Education: learning is a more specific aspect of ‘adding something’; it presupposes that a lack of information and awareness is the cause of the problem. If people had this knowledge, the theory goes that the issue would disappear or reduce because people could make informed decisions and correct their behavior.
  • Enforcement: if something like school rules, or even the law, is being ignored, proper enforcement might be a solution. Enforcement has its own sets of problems. This angle is an excellent way to write an unfolding and varied essay as it requires lots of discussion around proper enforcement. Making people do things they don’t want to do is a tricky situation and is riddled with structural and psychological issues.
  • Compromising: proposing compromise through mediation or bi-partisan effort is another complex solution. To work effectively, it has to involve people who possess robust negotiation techniques. But settlements happen all the time, so they’re a powerful solution to many problems. It may be useful to learn about zero-sum and relative issues to argue this case correctly.
  • A change in leadership: leaders can become stale and cumbersome; they may get weighed down by responsibility and have a low tolerance for change. Although, many problems require systemic changes, such as the climate crisis. With an established leader in charge, progress could be slow as they may be blinkered by their position. In this case, they are proposing an election or vote of confidence as a solution that can break the deadlock and offer people a chance to voice their concerns through voting.

One could surmise that the problem and solution essay is an incredibly relevant style of writing. By dissecting an issue and coming up with solutions, you learn a skill that is useful in many careers and practices. But writing one effectively requires both passion and perseverance; writing about topics that move us, though letting the fire burn too brightly, can put readers off or lead them to ignore their blind spots. 

Follow the structures set out above and make sure to proofread your essays before submission. Finding a good editor is always a positive step; they can help to rephrase your words so that your argument comes across more fluently. 

Writing drafts is good practice, although not always possible due to time constraints. Ideally, you should work through two drafts before submitting a final piece; if the essay makes up a small part of your overall grade, adjust the drafting process accordingly. 

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How to Write a Problem-Solution Essay Outline

In order to know how to write a problem-solution essay, one must know what kind of essay it is first. So what is a problem-solution essay ? A problem-solution is a method for analyzing and writing about a topic that identifies a problem and consequently providing one or more solutions to it.    

Problem-solution essays are commonly short essays that argue and convince a reader to take on a problem or address it in a particular way. It is usually composed of an introduction, a problem, a solution, and a conclusion.  

The introduction identifies the problem in a nutshell. It explains why the topic is a problem, who are affected by the problem, and the consequences they will have to suffer if the problem is not addressed.

The problem explains what the problem is clearly and specifically. It demonstrates that this is not just a personal complaint but a genuine problem that actually affects the general public. Why? Because it will appeal more to the readers or audience. Anything that affects a person, whether directly or indirectly, instantly makes the person curious or interested in it.

The solution is the part that offers a concrete solution to the problem. It explains why this one is the best recourse among others. The student or the writer can also include other solutions to it and just add which one he or she thinks is the best option. When presenting multiple problem-solution items, these have to be presented in a logical order to ensure that they are easily understood by the readers or audience of the essay. Otherwise, it will defeat the purpose of the essay itself, and that is to help resolve a problem.

The conclusion is an emphasis of the importance of the problem and the value of the solution or solutions presented in the essay. It can also be the part where the student or the writer convinces his or her readers or audience to act on it before it worsens.

Problem-Solution Essay Outline

There are two ways to approach a problem-solution essay: either through a block or a chain structure.

In a block structure, all of the problems are identified and listed first, and then followed by their corresponding solutions afterward, which would look like this:

Introduction

While in a chain structure, each problem is followed immediately by its corresponding solution, which would look like this:

Each type of outline has its own merits with the former being generally clearer and simpler, while the latter presents the solutions directly to the problems identified. In choosing which approach to apply, the student or the writer will have to consider certain factors including the number of problems to be identified. If a student opts to identify several problems in the essay, choosing the chain structure would appear to be a better choice so the readers can associate which solution answers a particular problem more quickly and consequently avoid mismatching them in the process.

Useful information: Students should use  college paper writing services when lack writing skills.

List of Topics for a Problem-Solution Essay

In choosing which topic to write about in a problem-solution essay, it would be best to choose a topic that the student or writer is truly passionate about or something that he or she is well-informed. To attract readers or audience to read it, he can address some social issues that affect the general public or a certain group of people. It could be topics about health, youth, the environment, the society, education, or even about happiness and success.

The following are universal issues that can be tackled on in problem-solution essays:

Whether or not to fully ban tobacco to reduce the lung cancer incidence;

Whether or not to ban genetically-modified food to address obesity;

Whether or not to censor movie scripts to reduce violence;

Whether or not to implement one-car rule to reduce global warming;

Whether or not to invest in renewable energy source to address the climate crisis;

Whether or not psychological help can reduce domestic violence;

Whether or not adoption procedures should be made easier for gay couples;

Whether or not investment in virtual curriculums can make education more affordable;

Whether or not music can improve academic performance;

Whether or not social media can solve teen isolation.

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There are several reasons that can come to mind why some students or writers are unable to write their problem-solution essays for themselves. It could be the lack of time or lack of resources available. If students are looking for a reliable place where buy an essay  GrabMyEssay produces high-quality problem-solution essays that are well-researched and well-written that will guarantee an excellent grade within the deadline and at an affordable price.

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Problem-solution essays Situation-problem-solution-evaluation

Problem-solution essays are a common essay type, especially for short essays such as subject exams or IELTS . The page gives information on what they are , how to structure this type of essay, and gives an example problem-solution essay on the topic of obesity and fitness levels.

What are problem-solution essays?

Problem-solution

Problem-solution essays consider the problems of a particular situation, and give solutions to those problems. They are in some ways similar to cause and effect essays , especially in terms of structure (see below). Problem-solution essays are actually a sub-type of another type of essay, which has the following four components:

The 'situation' may be included in the essay prompt, in which case it will not be needed in the main body. If it is needed, it can often be included in the introduction, especially for short essays, as with the example essay below . The 'evaluation' may be included as part of the conclusion (also as in the example below), or omitted altogether, especially for short essays. For these reasons, problem-solution essays are more common than situation-problem-solution-evaluation essays (or SPSE essays).

There are two main ways to structure a problem-solution essay. These are similar to the ways to structure cause and effect essays , namely using a block or a chain structure. For the block structure, all of the problems are listed first, and all of the solutions are listed afterwards. For the chain structure, each problem is followed immediately by the solution to that problem. Both types of structure have their merits. The former is generally clearer, especially for shorter essays, while the latter ensures that any solutions you present relate directly to the problems you have given.

The two types of structure, block and chain , are shown in the diagram below. This is for a short essay, which includes the 'situation' in the introduction and 'evaluation' in the conclusion. A longer essay, for example one of around 1,000 words, with citations , would probably have these two sections as separate paragraphs in the main body.

Example essay

Below is a problem-solution essay on the topic of obesity and poor fitness . It uses the block structure . Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes) to highlight the different structural aspects in this essay, i.e. Situation, Problem, Solution, Evaluation. This will highlight not simply the paragraphs, but also (for problems and solutions) the thesis statement and summary , as these repeat the problems and solutions contained in the main body.

Consumption of processed and convenience foods and our dependence on the car have led to an increase in obesity and reduction in the fitness level of the adult population. In some countries, especially industrialized ones, the number of obese people can amount to one third of the population. This is significant as obesity and poor fitness lead to a decrease in life expectancy , and it is therefore important for individuals and governments to work together to tackle this issue and improve their citizens' diet and fitness. Obesity and poor fitness decrease life expectancy. Overweight people are more likely to have serious illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, which can result in premature death. It is well known that regular exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, which means that those with poor fitness levels are at an increased risk of suffering from those problems. Changes by individuals to their diet and their physical activity can increase life expectancy. There is a reliance today on the consumption of processed foods, which have a high fat and sugar content. By preparing their own foods, and consuming more fruit and vegetables, people could ensure that their diets are healthier and more balanced, which could lead to a reduction in obesity levels. In order to improve fitness levels, people could choose to walk or cycle to work or to the shops rather than taking the car. They could also choose to walk up stairs instead of taking the lift. These simple changes could lead to a significant improvement in fitness levels. Governments could also implement initiatives to improve their citizens' eating and exercise habits. This could be done through education, for example by adding classes to the curriculum about healthy diet and lifestyles. Governments could also do more to encourage their citizens to walk or cycle instead of taking the car, for instance by building more cycle lanes or increasing vehicle taxes. While some might argue that increased taxes are a negative way to solve the problem, it is no different from the high taxes imposed on cigarettes to reduce cigarette consumption. In short, obesity and poor fitness are a significant problem in modern life, leading to lower life expectancy . Individuals and governments can work together to tackle this problem and so improve diet and fitness . Of the solutions suggested, those made by individuals themselves are likely to have more impact, though it is clear that a concerted effort with the government is essential for success. With obesity levels in industrialized and industrializing countries continuing to rise, it is essential that we take action now to deal with this problem.

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Author: Sheldon Smith    ‖    Last modified: 22 January 2022.

Sheldon Smith is the founder and editor of EAPFoundation.com. He has been teaching English for Academic Purposes since 2004. Find out more about him in the about section and connect with him on Twitter , Facebook and LinkedIn .

Compare & contrast essays examine the similarities of two or more objects, and the differences.

Cause & effect essays consider the reasons (or causes) for something, then discuss the results (or effects).

Discussion essays require you to examine both sides of a situation and to conclude by saying which side you favour.

Problem-solution essays are a sub-type of SPSE essays (Situation, Problem, Solution, Evaluation).

Transition signals are useful in achieving good cohesion and coherence in your writing.

Reporting verbs are used to link your in-text citations to the information cited.

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  1. All You Need to Know About Writing a Problem Solution Essay

    Learn how to write a problem solution essay with this guide. Find out the four essential components of this essay, the outline structure, the topics, and the examples.

  2. How to Write a Problem-Solution Essay Outline

    A problem-solution essay is a method for analyzing and writing about a topic that identifies a problem and provides one or more solutions to it. Learn the two types of essay structure, the list of topics, and the tips for writing a problem-solution essay outline.

  3. Problem-solution essays

    Learn how to write problem-solution essays, a common type of short essay for exams or IELTS. See the structure, an example essay on obesity and fitness, and a checklist for the main body.