Archive Lessons Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

In the second part of our IELTS writing task 2 ‘Types of Tasks’ series, we are looking at how to structure tasks that tells us to write about a problem and discuss the solution.

The previous blog post in the series talks about the structure of ‘give your opinion’ tasks. Don’t forget to check it out if you haven’t already.

​Look at the task 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?


​These questions ask you about the aspects of a problem:
  • What are the problems created by this and what solutions can you suggest? 
  • What are the causes of this?  What measures can be taken to solve this problem?


Essay Structure

There are two different ways we can structure our essay to answer this type of question:

Structure A


Introduction Paragraph
  • Introduce the topic
  • Briefly mention causes and effects or problems and solutions

Causes/Problems Paragraph


Solutions Paragraph
  • Topic sentence
  • Supporting idea
  • Example


Conclusion
  • Conclusion signal (‘In conclusion,…’)
  • Summarise your main points
  • Give a comment on the topic such as a suggestion or  warning

Structure B


Introduction Paragraph
  • Introduce the topic
  • Briefly mention causes and effects or problems and solutions

Cause 1 and Solution 1 Paragraph
  • Cause
  • Supporting idea
  • Example
  • Solution
  • Supporting idea
  • Example

Cause 2 and Solution 2 Paragraph
  • Cause
  • Supporting idea
  • Example
  • Solution
  • Supporting idea
  • Example

Conclusion
  • Conclusion signal (‘In conclusion,…’)
  • Summarise your main points
  • Give a comment on the topic such as a suggestion or  warning

Let’s look at a band 9 example essay that answers the task 2 question above.
​The enormous growth in the use of the internet over the last decade has led to radical changes to the way that people consume and share information. Although serious problems have arisen as a result of this, there are solutions.

One of the first problems of the internet is the ease with which children can access potentially dangerous sites. For example, pornography sites are easily accessible to them because they can register with a site and claim to be an adult. There is no doubt that this affects their thoughts and development, which is a negative impact for the children and for society. Another major problem is the growth of online fraud and hacking. These days, there are constant news stories about government and company websites that have been hacked, resulting in sensitive information falling into the hands of criminals.

It is important that action is taken to combat these problems. Governments should ensure that adequate legislation and controls are in place that will prevent young people from accessing dangerous sites, such as requiring more than simply confirming that you are an adult to view a site.

Parents also have a part to play. They need to closely monitor the activities of their children and restrict their access to certain sites, which can now be done through various computer programs. Companies must also improve their onsite IT security systems to make fraud and hacking much more difficult by undertaking thorough reviews of their current systems for weaknesses. 

To conclude, the internet is an amazing technological innovation that has transformed people’s lives, but not without negative impacts. However, with the right action by individuals, governments and businesses, it can be made a safe place for everyone. 


​Answer the questions below, then compare your answers to ours.
Does this essay use structure a or B?


It uses structure A.
What is different about the structure of this essay When compared with structures A and B?


Although this essay uses structure A, there are 5 paragraphs because the writer has chosen to include two solutions paragraphs:
  1. Introduction paragraph
  2. Problems paragraph (two problems are mentioned)
  3. Solution 1 paragraph
  4. Solution 2 paragraph
  5. Conclusion
What are the topic sentences of the problems paragraph?


One of the first problems of the internet is the ease with which children can access potentially dangerous sites.

Another major problem is the growth of online fraud and hacking.
What examples does the writer use to highlight the problems?


For example, pornography sites are easily accessible to them because they can register with a site and claim to be an adult.

…there are constant news stories about government and company websites that have been hacked…

How does the writer divide up the solutions paragraphs?


Solutions paragraph 1 explains how the government can help, while paragraph 2 explains how other people can help (parents and companies).

This is not the only way to divide up these paragraphs. We could also divide them up into a paragraph of dangerous site solutions and a paragraph of security solutions. Its up to you to decide what you like best, but make sure your decision is logical.

Does the writer summarize the main points in the conclusion?


Not really. The writer states:

To conclude, the internet is an amazing technological innovation that has transformed people’s lives, but not without negative impacts.

The conclusion could be improved by briefly mentioning what the negative impacts are:

…but not without the negative impacts of exposure to dangerous websites and the stealing of sensitive information.


​​If you try and structure the paragraphs of your essay and the sentences in your paragraphs as we have suggested here, you are really going to improve your Coherence and Cohesion band score.

Just remember that everything you write must be connected to the question. Ultimately good structure is only half of the game – accurate use of a wide range of vocabulary and grammar is also very important so don’t forget to work on those as well.

We have a more in depth problem/solution essay class here.

Up next is a lesson teaching advantages and disadvantages essay types.
​See you next time!