Problem-solution essays are a common requirement for high school and college students. The definition of a problem-solution essay can be derived from the name itself. It is an essay that identifies a problem and discusses a solution or solutions accordingly. Its primary thrust is arguing for a specific solution to a problem or convincing the readers to address the problem as soon as possible.
Writing a problem-solution essay starts with an introduction, as you would start any other type of essay. The introduction identifies the problem. You can start by painting an image of the problem or the issue at hand to make it more compelling for readers to continue reading. This is what most writers call the lead or the hook, which is used to grab readers’ attention. The introduction is also the part where the writer appeals to the emotions of the readers by stating who are affected by the problem and what the consequences will be if this problem is not addressed.
The next part of the problem-solution essay is the elaboration of the problem. This is where you present the issue at hand from a broader perspective down to the details. Including its historical background can significantly add value to the essay – on how it started and how it developed into what it is currently. These factual claims should always be substantiated by credible sources either through footnotes or endnotes. Proper citation should always be observed to maintain a trustworthy tone.
Once the problem is completely laid out on the table, the writer should then present a concrete solution or solutions to it. The point of the whole essay is to convince the readers that this particular solution or solutions are their best options. To do this, it must be logical, feasible, and substantiated by pieces of evidence. There are two ways to present the problem and its corresponding solution or solutions, which will be discussed in the subsequent portion.
The problem-solution essay, like any other essay, too, should end with a conclusion. The conclusion should restate the problem and a summary of all the arguments into one whole solution directly addressing the problem. This part should also contain a call to action that encourages the readers to take part in the proposed solution or to look for alternative solutions. To convince readers to act on the matter, the writer can also include possible consequences if the problem is not resolved in the quickest possible time. After all, a good problem-solution essay creates a sense of urgency on the part of the readers to address the problem identified.
As for the approach in writing your essay, there are two problem-solution essay structures you can use: either a block structure or a chain structure.
A block structure identifies and list all the problems first and then presents all of the solutions afterward. A block structure would look like this:
On the other hand, a chain structure alternately identifies the problem and its corresponding solution. A chain structure would look like this:
Each problem-solution essay structure has its own merits. The writer can just choose which structure he is more comfortable using. A block structure is relatively clearer and simpler to use while the chain structure presents the solutions directly to the problems, which can be quite useful when introducing several problem-solution items. The number of items introduced can be a factor in selecting which structure a writer should use.
Transition Words for Essays and Papers
In writing your essay and weaving your problems and solutions together, you would need to use some transition words to improve the connections between sentences and paragraphs thereby giving the text a more logical organization and structure. They help carry a thought from one sentence to another, from one idea to another, or, as mentioned, from one sentence or paragraph to another.
In order to use transition words more effectively, the writer should know what they are and when to use it appropriately. The transition words like also, in addition, and as well as are used to add new information and show the agreement. The transition words like but, rather, and or are used when there is evidence to the contrary or to point out alternatives, which ultimately changes the line of reasoning. The transition phrases like in order to, in view of, and provided that are used when presenting specific conditions or intentions. Lastly, transition words like thus, hence, and accordingly are used to show the consequences or effects of a certain happening or event.
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