The Problem/Solution essay shares some similarities with the argumentative essay, so when you look at the format below, you might already know where this is headed:

  • Establish a high-lever overview of a problem within society
  • State your thesis, which will contain two to three main points of why the problem is significant as well as a solution
  • Develop your main points about the problem
  • Include a transition paragraph from the problem to the solution
  • Develop two to three main points about your solution
  • Conclude by summarizing the problem and solution, respectively

Overview of a problem within society:

Your intro should immediately begin establishing not only what the problem is, but why it should be considered a problem. Don’t be afraid to include a handful of sources in the intro to cement the credibility of the problem. For example, let’s say you want to write about the large quantity of social media platforms and the effects they have had on relationships:

  • Social media platforms have become an integral part of how individuals in society interact with one another. While these platforms have served in some ways to connect loved ones both near and far, the rapid increase of said platforms have had far-reaching consequences. Studies conducted have shown that many on apps such as Facebook and Instagram have decreased attention spans (“Pay attention!”). Other studies have concluded that browsing Twitter for longer than ten minutes leads to an increased heart rate, spikes in blood pressure and even diabetes (“Scroll or die”).
    • Note how the paragraph is hitting the reader with significant evidence right away! Don’t be afraid to jump right into telling the reader that your problem is one that must be considered and addressed.

As you establish the problem in your reader’s mind, you will want to build up to your thesis, keeping in mind that you will not only want to include evidence that drives home how bad the problem is, but leave the reader with a desire to fix what you are addressing. 

Thesis which includes both problem and solution:

Your thesis will include a few things:

  • The problem itself
  • Two to three main points about why the problem is so bad
  • A solution to the problem
    • Note: you will NOT include your main points about the solution here. That will be later in the essay.

Here’s an example thesis:

  • The amount of social media platforms available to consumers will only create fragmented relationships, physical health problems and develop narcissistic tendencies. By regulating social media platforms with moderation and government oversight, these platforms can not only reduce in number, but provide quality experiences for all users.
    • Note: The problem/solution thesis is unique in the sense that the thesis will be TWO sentences. One sentence will make your claim about the problem, while the other will propose a solution. You will discuss your solution more thoroughly in the second half of the essay.

Develop your main points about the problem:

This will be a very similar process to the argumentative essay in the sense that you will be “arguing” that the main points you brought up about your problem are not only valid, but pressing. Use rhetorical devices, symbolism, analogy and strong evidence just like you did in the argumentative essay to convince the reader. Refer to the study guide on The Argumentative Essay for more detail and consult the pages enumerated in various lectures for more information.

Include a transition paragraph from the problem to the solution:

After developing your two to three main points about the problem, you will include a paragraph that transitions from the problem to the solution. The verbiage of the paragraph should include:

  • An acknowledgement of the points you have covered
  • State your solution to the problem and two to three specific points about how your solution will act as the resolution.

Here’s an example:

  • With the issues surrounding the promulgation of social media platforms discussed in detail, a solution must naturally be created to counteract the effects of social media. The most promising solution would involve the regulation of social media by both private and public entities. This solution not only allows for moderation from within various organizations, but also directly involves public leadership that can shape policies around the usage and engagement of social media platforms.
    • A solution does not have to possess three points; in fact, I recommend two at the most.
    • Your solution must be:
      • Practical:
        • Don’t offer up the most “ideal” solution that cannot be achieved; rather, put forth a solution that is achievable.
      • Already discussed or evidence is available:
        • I highly recommend doing research on whether or not your solution has already been discussed. While I’ve mentioned in our course that you might not have a ton of evidence for the solution, you still want to provide evidence to support the credibility of your claims.

Develop two to three main points about your solution:

The development of your solution is very similar to the problem, so see the section above.

Conclude by summarizing both problem and solution:

Don’t overthink!

  • Summarize your problem (1-2 sentences)
  • Summarize your main points about the problem (1-2 sentences)
  • Summarize your solution (1-2 sentences)

Summarize main points about the solution (1-

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