IELTS Problem Solution Essay: Writing an effective introduction

Writing 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 makes a good impression on the examiner. There are two steps to writing a good introduction. You will also need to spend time analyzing and fully understanding the task question, then decide what type of essay it is and if it needs an opinion.

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


Lets look at an Example Question for a Problem Solution essay.

” All over the world societies are facing a growing problem with obesity. This problem affects both children and adults. What are the reasons for this rise in obesity? How can it be solved? “

First I need to identify the type of essay this is. I can see from the question that it’s a Problem Solution Essay because of the questions “what are the reasons…? ” How can it be solved? ..Note that this question is not asking for my direct opinion, I just need to give examples and write recommendations on how to solve the problem.

Paraphrasing: Nations worldwide are experiencing an issue of rising obesity. This has a negative effect on all age groups.

Thesis Statement: There are two main causes, over consumption of fast food and lack of exercise. Possible solutions would be a government tax on fast food and special incentives on gym membership to get people exercising.

Key Points to remember.

1. Use synonyms and collocations for paraphrasing and change some words so they have the same meaning, you do not need to change every word but just do not copy the question word for word. Also be very careful when using synonyms because if your vocabulary is poor it could cause confusion. These are the words I changed below.

All over the world = Worldwide
Societies = Nations
Facing a growing problem with.. = experiencing an issue of..
This problem affects both children and adults = This is having a negative effect on all age groups. 

2. Do not use complex language or try to impress the examiner with hooks or idioms or complex grammar, if you do this your band score will go right down. Also do not memorise sentences or set phrases, the examiner will know you are doing this. My advice is to keep it simple. For this you need to work on your vocabulary.

3. The thesis statement outlines possible causes and possible solutions, again this helps the examiner see what you are going to write about. (you can just write 1 problem and 1 solution) if you have more than one problem and more than one solution, then just refer to the solution briefly. Keep the introduction concise.

4. This structure of the introduction is a little different depending on the type of essay, for example if it’s an opinion essay it will be slightly different.

If you notice I have not included an opinion statement because the question did not directly ask for my opinion. This is a Problem Solution essay and the focus is on the causes and recommendations on how to tackle the issue. In the thesis statement I have written the 2 reasons and 2 solutions for this.

Some IELTS teachers will say that it needs to have an opinion but if the question is not asking for your opinion then do not give it. However you could write something like :

” …It is clear the government needs to take more action on tackling this issue…”  or
“… It seems that the main responsibility lies with the parents..”

This is a good way to give your opinion indirectly but if these phrases are in the introduction then it will be too long, I suggest putting this in the main body of the essay.

Now lets look at the Introduction in full:

Nations worldwide are experiencing an issue of rising obesity. This has a negative effect on all age groups. There are two main causes, over consumption of fast food and lack of exercise. Possible solutions would be a government tax on fast food and special incentives on gym membership to get people exercising.

(52 words)

The introduction should be around 40 – 55 words only, if your introduction is too long it could become irrelevant, make it easier for the reader by keeping it concise. Just keep it simple and clear and do not include too much detail in the introduction. In many cases 2 or 3 sentences is perfectly fine.

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, and 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.

You can give two problems with two solutions in a problem solution essay but I recommend keeping the whole introduction to around 55 words or less.


Any comments? , let me know…