IELTS Problem Solution Essay: Writing an effective introduction

ieltslettersWriting a good introduction for a problem solution essay.

One of the main skills for getting a good band score in IELTS writing task 2 is how clear and effective the introduction is. This shows the examiner what your essay is going to be about and helps your task response score.

You will need to spend a couple of minutes analyzing and fully understanding the task question, then decide what type of essay it is and what kind of thesis statement you need to write. The rest of the essay will expand on your thesis statement so you need to get it right. Your position must be clear in the introduction and main body paragraphs as well as the conclusion. There are two steps to writing a good introduction. 

Here are two steps for an effective introduction.

1. Paraphrase the question
2. Write a thesis statement (click here for more detail)


For a lesson all about writing effective Thesis statements Click here.

5 things you should do before writing your essay Click here to see the lesson


Example Question for a Problem Solution essay.

‘An increasing number of professionals, such as doctors and teachers, are leaving their own poorer countries to work in developed countries. What problems does this cause? What solutions can you suggest to deal with this situation?’

First I need to analyse the task then identify the type of essay this is. I can see from the question that it’s a Problem Solution Essay because of the instruction words ‘What problems does this cause’ and ‘What solutions can you suggest to deal with this situation?’

I need to give examples of the problems that are caused and write recommendations on how to solve the problem. I need to state my position in the thesis statement and the main body paragraphs too.


Paraphrasing the task.

Here is how I have paraphrased the task question:

‘A growing number of qualified personnel, such as doctors and teachers from developing countries, are migrating to work in more developed countries.’

You can use synonyms or you can restructure the sentences for good paraphrasing, but you must maintain the same meaning, also  you do not need to change every word but do not copy the question word for word. Be very careful when using synonyms because this could cause confusion if you do not know how to use them effectively. These are the words I changed below.

  • An increasing number of –  A growing number of
  • professionals – qualified personnel
  • leaving – migrating
  • poorer countries – developing countries

This can be rephrased -> ‘….are leaving their own poorer countries to work in developed countries
To this-> ‘…
are migrating to work in more developed countries


Writing the Thesis Statement.

The thesis statement is important to get right because the rest of the essay must expand on this, do not go off topic and stray away from you central thesis statement. Explain and support the thesis statement in your body paragraphs.

‘Due to this, highly skilled people are in short supply, which negatively affects education and health services. A solution would be for governments to offer greater financial rewards to encourage people to stay.’

  • I have outlined what problem is caused ->  less highly skilled people –  negatively affects education and health services
  • I have briefly outlined the solution -> the government can offer greater financial rewards – higher salaries and perks.

In Main body one I can give more detail about the problem and in main body 2 I can give more detail about the solution.

You can just write about 1 problem and 1 solution in the essay but it must be well explained and supported. The marking criteria says for Band 8 task response: ‘presents a well-developed response to the question with relevant, extended and supported ideas .


Points to consider.

2. Do not use complicated language or try to impress the examiner with hooks, idioms or complicated grammar. If you do this your band score will go down. Do not memorise sentences or set phrases, the examiner will know you are doing this. See this link here about memorised sentences in the introduction. My advice is to keep it simple but for this you need to work on your vocabulary.

3. The thesis statement outlines the problem and a possible solution, this helps the examiner see what you are going to write about in the essay. You can write 1 problem and 1 solution in the essay but it must be well explained and supported. If you have two problems and two solutions, you don’t need to mention all of them in the thesis statement,  Keep the introduction concise.

4. This structure of the thesis statement is a little different depending on the type of essay, for example if it’s an opinion essay it will clearly state your opinion.

5. The marking criteria says that to get a Band 7 in task response you need to:  ‘ …present a clear position throughout the response’  state your view on how to solve the problem in the introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion.


Here is the Task question again:

‘An increasing number of professionals, such as doctors and teachers, are leaving their own poorer countries to work in developed countries. What problems does this cause? What solutions can you suggest to deal with this situation?’

Here is the Introduction in full:

A growing number of qualified personnel, such as doctors and teachers from developing countries, are migrating to work in more developed countries. Due to this, highly skilled people are in short supply, which negatively affects education and health services. A solution would be for governments to offer greater financial rewards to encourage people to stay.

(55 words)

  • The introduction should be around 55 words or less, there is no rule in the marking criteria about word count for introductions but you should keep it concise, which is why I say keep it under 55 words. If your introduction is too long it could become irrelevant, make it easier for the reader by keeping it clear and concise.

What if I want to cover 2 problems and 2 solutions?

You can cover 2 of each in the introdcution but make sure it is brief and concise, see this task question below.

‘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?’

Here is how I have paraphrased the task and stated 2 problems and 2 solutions in the thesis statement, remember to keep the introduction clear, concise and short.

The world wide web provides people with the opportunity to access vast amounts of information which have made communication quick and efficient. However, issues such as fake news and identity theft are growing. These can be tackled through raising public awareness of fake sites and greater efforts by cybersecurity companies.

(50 words)


Now you can try .. here is another problem solution essay question, can you use the techniques I have outline above and write your own introduction?.  After you have tried check my idea.

Question:

“These days many people have access to computers 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?”

My example answer:

With more and more people using computers recently, a growing number of youngsters are playing computer games. This can result in an addiction to gaming. One possible solution would be for parents to strictly limit children’s time in front of the computer, and schools cooperating to educate pupils of the dangers.
(51 words)

Paraphrased the task question: With more and more people using computers recently, a growing number of youngsters are playing computer games.

Thesis statement: This can result in an addiction to gaming. One possible solution would be for parents to strictly limit children’s time in front of the computer with schools cooperating to educate pupils of the dangers.

In the thesis statement I have covered one issue (addiction to gaming) and one solution (parents and schools cooperating to reduce the effect)  The introduction is already at 51 words so in this case I don’t want to go into too much detail here.


Write your comments below..