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A problem-solution essay is an essay that describes a problem and discusses possible solutions to the problem. This type of essay may be assigned in a high school or college composition class, and it generally requires some research before the writing process can begin. The primary thrust of a problem-solution essay is usually either an argument for a specific solution to a problem, or a strong case for the urgent need to solve a problem. Like most essays, the problem-solution essay must contain an introduction, a thesis, a body, and a conclusion.
The first step to writing a problem-solution essay is to identify the problem that will be discussed. It can be helpful to brainstorm possible essay topics and create a list of bullet-point ideas that could possibly be discussed for each topic. The best problem-solution topics are interesting and can be viewed from multiple perspectives, but are also not so broad that a solution to the problem is impossible to imagine.
The opening of a problem-solution essay should describe the problem and provide relevant background information. The problem should be clearly defined, and the causes of the problem should be identified if possible. The extent of the problem must also be described, as well as the effects of the problem and possible consequences of allowing the problem to continue unsolved. Any key terms that need to be defined should also be included in the opening, as well as any pertinent historical information that would help the reader understand the problem better.
Depending on the problem to be discussed, the thesis of a problem-solution essay may argue for the urgent need to solve the problem, or it may argue for a single solution to the problem. Most commonly, it will argue for a single solution. The thesis should generally be only one sentence long, and should clearly identify the main point of the essay. It will usually be placed in the opening paragraph, although in some cases the thesis can be reserved for the latter part of the essay where it will be revealed after a complete discussion of the problem and possible solutions have taken place.
The body of a problem-solution essay should fully describe proposed solutions to the problem and discuss the possible outcomes of each solution. Advantages or disadvantages to each solution should be included, as well as feasibility of the proposed solutions. If any attempts have already been made to solve the problem, those should be described as well. If the essay will be arguing for a single solution to the problem, the body of the paper should lead logically to the conclusion that the solution being advocated is the best solution available. In such cases, it is important not only to describe the solution, but also to describe how the solution can or should be implemented.
The conclusion of a problem-solution essay should contain a call to action, advocating that the reader either take part in the proposed solution to the problem or become involved in looking for a solution to the problem to be solved. Future consequences of the problem can be used as leverage for the call to action. It may also be useful to briefly restate the problem and describe the effects of leaving the problem unsolved. The best problem-solution essays will create a sense of urgency and lead the reader to become interested in solving the problem.
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