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Problem-Solving Techniques: A Guide to IELTS Writing Task 2 Solution Essays 

 April 12, 2024

By  Jonathan

A common IELTS Writing Task 2 prompt type asks you to identify problems associated with a particular situation, topic, or development, and then propose potential solutions. This essay format assesses your ability to analyse issues critically, suggest viable remedies, and communicate your ideas in writing with structure and clarity.

Understanding the Task

  • Prompt Focus:┬áDetermine if you’re asked to:
    • Analyse a problem and offer solutions
    • Discuss causes of a problem along with solutions
    • Focus solely on outlining the effectiveness of proposed solutions
  • Practicality is Key: Solutions should be realistic and achievable within the context of the given issue.
  • Target Audience: Present your ideas in a formal style, as if writing a report or proposal.

Structuring Your Response

  1. Analyze the Prompt Thoroughly
    • Identify the Core Problem(s): Focus on the primary issues causing the negative situation.
    • Consider Underlying Causes (If Relevant): Are the problems rooted in specific factors? Understanding this may lead to more effective solutions.
  2. Brainstorm & Organize Solutions
    • Multiple Solutions: Aim for 2-3 potential remedies for a more comprehensive response.
    • Feasibility and Impact: Think about what’s realistically achievable and the potential positive impact of each solution.
    • Sequence: Present solutions from most practical to more ambitious, or from addressing immediate problems to long-term change.
  3. Essay Structure
    • Introduction:
      • Briefly paraphrase the prompt, identifying the core problem(s) you will address.
    • Body Paragraphs:
      • Option 1: Dedicate one paragraph per solution, with its potential impact.
      • Option 2: If the prompt mentions ’causes’, one paragraph could outline causes, with subsequent paragraphs proposing solutions that directly address those root problems.
    • Conclusion:
      • Summarize your key proposed solutions.
      • Consider offering a final recommendation on the most impactful solution (if appropriate).

Strategies for Effective Solutions

  1. Think at Different Levels
    • Individual Action: Can individuals change behavior to contribute to a solution?
    • Community/Institutions: Are changes needed in schools, workplaces, or local governance?
    • Governmental/Broader Policy: Are large-scale policy shifts or infrastructural improvements required for meaningful change?
  2. Specific & Actionable
    • Avoid Vague Ideas: Instead of “people should be more aware,” propose how to increase awareness (campaigns, educational programs, etc.).
    • Use Action Verbs: Solutions should involve doing something: “implement,” “invest in,” “develop,” “restrict”.
  3. Consider Potential Drawbacks
    • Acknowledge Challenges: Are there high costs, potential resistance, or unintended consequences associated with a solution? Briefly discuss these.
    • Demonstrate Balanced Thinking: This shows you’ve considered the solution’s feasibility critically.

Example: Problem & Solution (Excerpt)

Prompt: “Traffic congestion in major cities is a growing problem. Discuss some of the causes and suggest solutions.”

Sample Body Paragraph: “A primary cause of congestion is over-reliance on private vehicles. One potential solution lies in investing heavily in reliable, affordable, and efficient public transportation systems. This could incentivize commuters to opt for buses, trains, or subways over personal cars. While this solution requires significant funding, it could have the long-term benefits of reducing pollution alongside road congestion.”

Additional Tips

  • Vocabulary of Solutions: Learn synonyms for “recommend,” “suggest,” and “propose.”
  • Practice with Variety: Seek problem/solution prompts across different topics (environment, technology, society) to build adaptability.
  • Proofreading: Check for clarity and ensure your grammar is error-free.

Remember: The IELTS solution essay isn’t about outlining perfect, utopian answers. Examiners value logical analysis, realistic propositions, and clarity of communication. This task allows you to demonstrate your ability to think critically about real-world issues and present your ideas in a formal, organized, and persuasive manner.

Jonathan has been teaching students to prepare for the IELTS and PTE Exams for more than 10+ years. He's taught English to students in various countries in the world including Singapore, China, Australia, Canada and Colombia.