IELTS Task 2- Problem Solution Essay

IELTS Task 2- Problem Solution Essay

This article explains and shows you how to reach a band 9 on your writing task 2 with a problem and solution essay. In my library of IELTS content, you will find articles on all of the task 2 essay types.

What is the problem solution essay?

The problem solution essay can be the hardest for many students. This can be due to how the question is worded. Generally you will be asked to discuss the problem and solution. But you may be asked to discuss the cause and solution and the solution only.

What's the difference between a problem, cause and solution?

Problem- I arrived at the wrong restaurant even though I had put the address into Google maps

Cause- I didn't check the postcode and discovered there was more than one 'Luigi's'

Solution- Next time I will be sure to check the correct post-code is entered to avoid arriving at the wrong destination

What is the essay structure?

As with any essay structure, you need an opening, the middle where you address the question in more depth, and the conclusion. But let's apply a more specific structure. You would have seen this in other essay posts I have written, so this should be somewhat familiar.


  • Paraphrase the question
  • State 1 key problem/cause and related solution

Paragraph 1 – Problem or Cause

  • Topic sentence – state the problem or cause
  • Explanation – explain the problem or cause
  • Example
  • Effect

Paragraph 2 – Solution

  • Topic sentence – state the solution
  • Explanation – explain the solution
  • Example
  • Effect


  • Summarise the key points

How many problems/cause should I write about?

This depends on how quickly you can write. If you can fit two in, which will result in a 350-400 word response then this is fine. Using one main problem/cause and developing your idea is also fine. With any of the essay types, it's always imperative to develop your ideas. So be sure to do this irrespective of the number of ideas.

Writing task 2 example

Let's use an example question to see how you can answer this question with a band 9 score. This question is a problem and solution essay.

The internet has transformed the way information is distributed and consumed, but it has also created problems that prior to this, did not exist.

What are the most serious problems associated with the internet and what solutions can you suggest?

We have our structure in mind but planning is always part of writing. The structure above is something you should memorise. Then use a table like below and structure your ideas down in five minutes.

You can put this into a table if it helps to remember or simply create the titles and jot down your ideas.

Build yourself a table to plan your ideas

Writing task 2 example, in full

Since the boom of the internet in the 1990's, it has since changed how we consume and share information. In particular, the last decade has seen significant changes in how we use the internet, and our relationship with it. Although serious problems have arisen and continue to do so, there are solutions.

One of the first problems with the internet and arguably, the most worrisome, is the ease with which children can access sites with dangerous and harmful content. For example, pornography sites are easily accessible to them because they can claim to be an adult and have free rein thereafter. The lack of security in this corner of the web means that children are being exposed to content that is far beyond their emotional and cognitive understanding. Undoubtedly, this would affect their thoughts and damage how they otherwise see the world, people and relationships. It could damage their ability of forming their own understanding of sexual relationships as they grow up and mature. Such behaviour could be imitated and potentially harmful to others, and therefore negatively impacting society.

Another serious problem is the growth of online fraud and hacking. With such a wealth of our personal data online and the sophistication of hackers, our data is subject to theft. Whilst there are protective measures online and this issue is often in news stories, this issue is on the rise and has become an incredibly rich industry with hackers that can surpass online security. Even government and state conglomerates have been attacked. Take for example the 2017 NHS cyber attack. Proving that even those deemed safe and ostensibly with great power, are still susceptible to online criminals. From what is reported in the news, it seems as though regardless of status, background, or employment, we can all fall victim to the online hands of criminals.

It is important that action is taken to directly combat these problems. Firstly, Governments should ensure that adequate legislation is in place that will prevent young people from accessing dangerous sites. Clearly the current measures are not enough to protect children online. As well as this, companies dedicated to online protection should be doing more to create stricter, appropriate entries to such sites. Protection can also come from home. Parents should monitor their children whilst online and restrict access to certain sites. Fortunately this is now easier than ever and parents can control what their children consume. Similarly, the government should create stricter legislation around cyber security. Individual companies must also improve their onsite IT security systems to make fraud and hacking much more difficult and virtually impossible. Companies could collaborate on this and those operating within the same field, such as finance, could come together to create more successful online barriers.

To conclude, the internet is an incredible technological tool that has changed people's lives and brought them opportunities, connections, and much happiness but it is not without negative and genuinely harmful impacts. With the right action, especially by governments and business, alongside individuals, it can be a safe place for everyone.

Identify where the structure has been applied

  1. How many problems are discussed?
  2. What are they?
  3. What language is used to initiate discussion of the problems?
  4. How are the problems explained further?
  5. What solutions are discussed for each problem?

Read my example and highlight with a different colour 1-5 within the body of the text.

Practice tips

Time yourself:

You have 40 minutes in the exam to write your 250 word answer. When first starting, give yourself 50 minutes. Each time you practice, shave off five minutes and see how you can meet the word count in ideally 30 minutes. It's always good to have time left over to proofread your response.

The need to know language for the problem and cause question:

  • Problem – issues, resulting, situation, obstacle, drawback
  • Cause – reasons, why, source, root, basis, origin
  • Solution – deal with, addressed, tackled, remedied, improved, measures taken, solved, prevent