Writing Task 2 | Essay Types Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

Our first IELTS Essay Types class looked at Opinion essays, while our last lesson was on how to write a 2 sided argument. Now we will look at problem-solution essay question types.
Many IELTS candidates struggle to successfully write problem-solution essays. Today’s post will provide you with an example essay and show you how to write your own.

First of all, read the essay question below.

More and more wild animals are on the verge of extinction and others are on the endangered list.
 
What are the reasons for this? What can be done to solve these problems?


Tip 1 | Understand the Task

​It is very important to fully understand the question before you write anything. If you can answer the following two questions successfully, then you have fully understood the task. Answer the questions below, then select them to see our answers.
What are the keywords that tell you what the topic is?

​wild animals / extinction / endangered
What are the keywords that tell you what to do?

What/​reasons? and What/done/solve/problems? – notice that these nouns are plural so we must write more than one reason and solution in the essay.


Tip 2 | Think of Ideas

People who plan what they will write are better writers. Before you write the essay, make a list of a few reasons. Each reason must have a connected solution. If you can’t think of a solution for a reason, then you MUST NOT include the reason in your essay.

​Look at the task again. Take 5 minutes to think of three reasons and a solution for each reason.
More and more wild animals are on the verge of extinction and others are on the endangered list.
 
What are the reasons for this? What can be done to solve these problems?


​Now compare your reasons/solutions with ours. Look at the reasons and solutions below and match them together.

Reasons for Endangered Animals

1. Illegal logging of protected areas of rainforest for rare wood.
2. Hunting of animals for use in traditional medicines.
3. Wild areas converted into farmland.
4. Animals hunted for the rare pet trade.
5. Pollution of waterways by industrial waste.
6. Foreign species introduced which kill local species.

Solutions

A Set limits on areas that can be used for agriculture and police protected areas more effectively. Farm areas which are already used for cultivation more intensively.
B Increase funding for forestry departments. Reduce corruption in the forestry sector. People found cutting down trees in protected areas receive harsher punishment.
C Monitor the pollution from industry and prosecute businesses which break pollution laws.
D Provide well-funded and armed park rangers to stop poachers. Educate people about medicine.
E Customs and border control agencies must stop foreign species from entering the country. These agencies should be equipped with hi tech devices to make it easier for them to find species being smuggled into the country.


Tip 3 | Structure your Essay

​You should always aim to have four paragraphs in an IELTS Task 2 essay. Below are two logical plans for how to structure a problems-solutions essay. See if you can see the difference between the structures.
IELTS Writing Task 2 | Problem Solution Essay Structure 1
IELTS Writing Task 2 | Problem Solution Essay Structure 1
IELTS Writing Task 2 | Problem Solution Essay Structure 2
IELTS Writing Task 2 | Problem Solution Essay Structure 2


Structure Activity

​The sentences in each paragraph are numbered. What is the purpose of each sentence?
More and more wild animals are on the verge of extinction and others are on the endangered list.
 
What are the reasons for this? What can be done to solve these problems?

Introduction
1 Many species today are becoming extinct or are at risk of becoming so. 2 There are many reasons for this state of affairs and in this essay I will suggest solutions for the problem of habitat destruction due to illegal logging and the degradation of waterways by industrial waste.

Which sentence…
1. introduces the topic
2. is a thesis statement, outlining what will be discussed in the essay

Body Paragraph 1
1 A major factor leading to the extinction of species in tropical countries is the destruction of habitat due to illegal logging. 2 Many tropical countries set aside large areas of forest as national parks, however, illegal loggers destroy these habitats to obtain rare hardwoods. 3 The orangutan, found in Indonesia and Malaysia, is a prime example of an animal being pushed to extinction because of this. 4 They are protected by law in both countries, but the jungle in which they live is cut down by unscrupulous businessmen, often with links to the government and security forces. 5 It is essential that more money is spent on recruiting and training forest rangers whose duty it is to protect natural parks. 6 However, this solution will be useless until the corrupt government officers and security forces who are involved in the trade in rare wood are prosecuted and handed harsh sentences in order to put off other would be corrupt officials. 

Which sentence…

1. States a solution for the first problem.
2. States the first problem.
3. Provides an example of an animal being pushed to extinction.
4. Gives the cause of the problem.
5. Gives supporting ideas.

Body Paragraph 2
1 A second factor that damages habitats is Industrial pollution in waterways that can poison the water and eventually lead to the death of most life in the affected river. 2 Many rivers in Europe were declared dead in the early twentieth century due to the unregulated dumping of industrial waste. 3 However, this was turned around by waste management laws being strictly enforced and polluting businesses being prosecuted, which clearly worked as fish have since returned to the waterways. 4 Monitoring of waste and stricter laws needs to be implemented in developing nations which are making the same mistakes that were made in Europe. 5 Again, the key to improving the situation is investment in monitoring and harsher penalties for those found to be breaking the law.

Which sentence…

1. States the second problem.
2. Gives an example of the second problem.
3. Makes a link with the solution for the problem described in body paragraph 1.
4. An example of a solution which was used in developed countries
5. Suggests the solution for the problem.

Conclusion
1 Two major threats to wildlife are habitat destruction due to illegal logging and the pollution of rivers by industry. 2 Both of these problems can be solved if the government is willing to spend the money and hunt down those breaking the law.

Which sentence…

1. Makes a recommendation or suggestion related to the topic.
2. Summarises the main points in body paragraphs one and two.

The complete Essay

Many species today are becoming extinct or are at risk of becoming so. There are many reasons for this state of affairs and in this essay I will suggest solutions for the problem of habitat destruction due to illegal logging and the degradation of waterways by industrial waste.

A major factor leading to the extinction of species in tropical countries is the destruction of habitat due to illegal logging. Many tropical countries set aside large areas of forest as national parks, however, illegal loggers destroy these habitats to obtain rare hardwoods. The orangutan, found in Indonesia and Malaysia, is a prime example of an animal being pushed to extinction because of this. They are protected by law in both countries, but the jungle in which they live is cut down by unscrupulous businessmen, often with links to the government and security forces. It is essential that more money is spent on recruiting and training forest rangers whose duty it is to protect natural parks. However, this solution will be useless until the corrupt government officers and security forces who are involved in the trade in rare wood are prosecuted and handed harsh sentences in order to put off other would be corrupt officials.

A second factor that damages habitats is Industrial pollution in waterways that can poison the water and eventually lead to the death of most life in the affected river. Many rivers in Europe were declared dead in the early twentieth century due to the unregulated dumping of industrial waste. However, this was turned around by waste management laws being strictly enforced and polluting businesses being prosecuted, which clearly worked as fish have since returned to the waterways. Monitoring of waste and stricter laws needs to be implemented in developing nations which are making the same mistakes that were made in Europe. Again, the key to improving the situation is investment in monitoring and harsher penalties for those found to be breaking the law.

Two major threats to wildlife are habitat destruction due to illegal logging and the pollution of rivers by industry. Both of these problems can be solved if the government is willing to spend the money and hunt down those breaking the law.

Not sure about the verbs in bold? Try to guess their meaning from the text, then have a look at our notes below:

degradation – noun – slow damage
rare – adjective – very uncommon
unscrupulous – adjective – dishonest, not fair
duty – noun – job, purpose
harsh – adjective – tough, difficult
declare – verb – officially decide
unregulated – adjective – not controlled (by the government)
implement – verb – enforce, start


Structure Activity 2

Do you remember the two ways of structuring a problem – solution essay? Review them below.
IELTS Writing Task 2 | Problem Solution Essay Structure 1
IELTS Writing Task 2 | Problem Solution Essay Structure 1
IELTS Writing Task 2 | Problem Solution Essay Structure 2
IELTS Writing Task 2 | Problem Solution Essay Structure 2
Which structure does the model essay in the previous activity follow?
Structure 1
Structure 2


​Practice Task

​Practice makes perfect so try to answer the question below. Write at least 250 words but don’t take more than 40 minutes. 
Many people believe the Earth’s climate is changing as a result of human activity.
 
What are the reasons for this? What solutions can you suggest?

​If you would like some free feedback, copy and paste your essay into the comments section below and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

For more problem-solution practice, visit our Types of Task: Aspects of a Problem class.

Now let’s move on to study Advantages and Disadvantages Essays.