Planning for a Problem-Solution Essay

The first step in writing an effective essay is planning.

Begin by developing a tentative thesis statement. A statement that describes the topic and the direction you will take.  Later you can come back and revise your thesis statement, but for now a tentative thesis statement will get you going.


Example of a tentative thesis statement: “Eating high amounts of fat can lead to poor health, but eating a plant-based diet can lead to strong bodies.”


Now that you have a topic, it is time to do some freewriting.  Write for 10 minutes on the topic allowing your thoughts to flow. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation are important, but for now just write focusing on possible causes for the problem/s and possible solutions.

After you have finished freewriting, look at your paper and circle the problems and underline the solutions. Then use a problem-solution chart to organize your ideas.

Download: Problem-Solution Chart

You can make a chart by simply drawing two rectangles side-by-side on a piece of paper. Label one rectangle Problems and Reasons, and the other rectangle Possible Solutions.

On the chart, you want to list out three things: the problems, the reasons why they are a problem, and possible solutions for the problems.

Now you are ready to begin writing your first draft.  Just a word of advise.  You might want to start by taking your tentative thesis statement, and your chart, and write your body paragraphs first.  Sometimes it is easier to write your introduction after you have worked your way through the body paragraphs.

See How to write a Problem-Solution Essay for more information.

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Written by Richard P Carrigan, MSE

Richard Carrigan, teacher, speaker, filmmaker, has been an educator for over 30 years. He has experience teaching and developing curriculum for ESL classes in professional English, general conversation, and academic applications. He earned his undergraduate degree from Loma Linda University and his graduate degree from Shenandoah University.

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