Writing an essay is never an easy task. Read this lesson if you are struggling to compose an interesting and strongly structured problem-solution essay.
The Problem-Solution Essay
The essay. The bane of all students' existence. How do you begin to write? How do you know what to include? What's a thesis statement anyway, and how do you write one? You may have asked these questions many times throughout your educational career, but helpful answers really depend on what type of essay is needed.
One type is a problem-solution essay, which describes some sort of conflict, challenge or question and then outlines one or more answers or resolutions. These types of essays can be used to inform, which would then involve all possible solutions to the problem. However, they could also be persuasive. In that case, it would outline the problem, and possibly several solutions, but it would argue for one solution above the rest.
Before you begin to write this type of essay, determine your purpose and your target audience. The rest of this lesson describes how to write each part of a problem-solution essay.
Before you even begin to write, you must develop a thesis, which is the one statement that outlines the main argument of an essay. The key to a strong thesis is not merely making a broad statement of your topic, but instead specifically outlining what your essay will cover. Look at the following weak thesis:
- The depletion of the ozone layer is a significant problem.
You may think this is a decent thesis, as it does give the general topic. However, it does not explain the purpose for writing, nor does it outline where you are going with this idea. Now let's look at this thesis:
- A highly debated topic, the depletion of the ozone layer could easily be addressed by simple actions by each individual in society and by measures taken by each nation's government.
This thesis is much stronger. Not only does the reader know what the main problem is, but also what information the rest of the essay will discuss (solutions for individuals and solutions for governments). Overall, having a strong thesis will help you to maintain a clear focus throughout your essay.
Once you have a strong thesis, the next step is to write an introduction paragraph. The introduction is the paragraph that presents your topic and grabs the reader's attention. Since the introduction paragraph plays an important role, you need to be sure to plan an interesting beginning. You can ask a rhetorical question or make a profound statement. You could also state a definition or a short anecdote. Here is an example of a rhetorical question as an introduction strategy.
- Would you consent to being forced to do one thing every day for the rest of your life, if that one thing would save the world?
This type of opening line will instantly draw in your reader. As you continue to write the introduction paragraph, make the problem relatable to your reader. Consider your target audience and be sure to appeal to their interests. Narrow down your topic and lead directly into the thesis statement, which should be near the end of the introduction paragraph or the final sentence of it.
Now that you've introduced your topic and stated your thesis, move on to the body, which is the part of the essay that explains or develops the main topic. The body might be two or three paragraphs, each with a separate main idea that supports the thesis. Using the example thesis for the depletion of the ozone layer, the problem-solution essay would have one body paragraph describing the solutions each individual can do and a second body paragraph on the solutions each government can do.
In general, structure each body paragraph with a transition sentence at the beginning and at the end, introducing the main idea and providing closure accordingly. The middle sentences will explain the idea and provide examples, facts, or supporting details. If you are writing a persuasive essay, be sure to give reasons why one solution is the best option.
The final piece of a problem-solution essay is the conclusion, or the ending paragraph that provides closure to the essay. Conclusion paragraphs are generally structured by restating your thesis, summarizing your main points, and ending with a broad closing statement.
For a problem-solution essay, begin by restating the major problem. Then summarize any solutions you discussed in the body. If the essay is persuasive, summarize why one option is the best over the other solutions. Finally, the last statement needs to bring the essay to a close in some way that will continue to make your reader think about your topic. Here is an example that links back to the sample opening line given earlier.
- So then, would you do that one thing every day for the rest of your life? Will you help to save our world?
To review, a problem-solution essay describes some sort of conflict, challenge or question and then outlines one or more answers or resolutions. These can be either informative or persuasive.
When writing one of these essays, first develop a strong thesis, or statement that outlines the main argument of an essay. Be sure to include the main ideas you will cover in the body, which is the part of the essay that explains or develops the main topic. Write two or three body paragraphs according to your specific purpose and topic. Finally, write a conclusion or ending paragraph that provides closure to the essay.