Friday, April 18, 2014


The aim of a problem / solution essay is to set out a problem in the introduction and then spend the main body of the essay focusing on the solutions. This does not mean that causes and effects cannot or should not be mentioned at all; far from it, it makes perfect sense that they do but the main focus of the essay needs to be on the solutions because after all, this is the task that has been set; the reason for writing the essay. Having clarified this point, let us move on to the planning of such essays.
An essay of this sort starts out with an introduction where the problem and the gravity thereof is introduced. The writer needs to prove that the problem is deserving of attention. The solutions are discussed in the development and a restatement is provided in the conclusion. Let us examine these three parts of the essay in greater detail.
The introduction
The purpose of the writer  in this section of the essay is to prove that there is actually a serious problem and it needs attention; this he does in the introduction and having achieved his aim, ends the paragraph with a thesis statement which states clearly that solutions will be discussed in the essay and also points at the broad categories of solutions. A misconception needs to be addressed at this point: like in other types of essays, here too, the points that are going to be covered do not need to be listed in the introduction. In fact, stylistically it is much better that they are not. Let us now study an example:

Reading related essay: “Your Brain on Trial” Level **** reading tasks
All judicial systems are plagued by miscarriages of justice and some of them on a very large scale. We read or hear on the news of people being released from prison having been cleared by DNA evidence after spending half their lives in prison. Often they get compensation but does this really make up for years of lost opportunities? The aim of every judicial system is to first and foremost prevent such gross errors from taking place. A group of psychologists, having examined police procedures, have come up with various suggestions some concerning the period before the trial and others concerning the actual trial.
On reading this introduction it is easy to see that the rules described above have been adhered to: the fact that miscarriages of justice are a serious problem is proved, recent examples are hinted at and a thesis statement with two broad categories of solutions are provided. Narrowing down the focus of the solutions in this way prevents repetition and provides plenty to write about in the development. Let us look at one more example:

Reading related problem solution essay: “The 4 Million Dollar Teacher”, Level ** reading tasks
Research shows that the shadow education system, that is to say private cources designed to supplement classwork after school for a fee, are becoming increasingly popular arround the world and nowhere more so than in South Korea. Shadow education has become a million dollar business in a lot of places with institutions featuring on the stock exchange. Since these institutions lead to inequity in terms of education received and that they undermine standard schooling, their activities do need to curbed. After all, education cannot be permitted to become a business. There are various solutions that have been tried in the past which haven’t worked so a new approach is necessary.
Notice in this example,reasons why the shadow education system needs to be dealt with are also provided; this is a good way to prove that the problem requires attention. Once again, the points have not been listed but one general category, a new approach, has been mentioned.
The development
The system of working from the general to the particular continues in the development. The broad categories mentioned in the thesis statement help form the topic sentences of each developmental paragraph which in turn branches out into details of this category. Writing in this way will prevent repetion and give the writer plenty to write about. Common sense demands that each point be introduced, supported and then provided with an example. Let us examine the development of the first introduction we examined above:

There are various changes which can be made to standard procedures before the trial to ensure greater fairness and accuracy. The first involves line ups where suspects are identified. The standard procedure is to line up ethnically and physically similar people and then ask the witness to pick the guilty party. Implying that the guilty party is in the lineup forces witnesses to pick someone, despite not being sure if the guilty party is in fact present. Leading questions don’t help either. The alternative is showing the witness photos or suspects one by one and asking if they recognize anyone. Confessions should also be taken with a pinch of salt if they are to be believed. According to the text, 27% of all confessions are false. In order to save time, convict the right person and provide justice, all interrogations should be videotaped in such a way that the whole room is visible and an attorney should always be present.
There are various changes that should be made in courtroom procedures too to provide justice. The first issue is the selection of the jury: a racially mixed jury has been found to more thorough and much fairer so this should be ensured. An all white jury on the other hand, has been found to be much tougher on black defendants so this needs to be avoided. Secondly, during the trial, when judges ask a specific fact to be ignored by the jury, reasons should be given to make sure that they are actually ignored.  Not giving reasons but just telling the jury to disregard a particular statement has been found to have no effect at all. Reading out the charges at the beginning of the trial also leads the jury to try and find evidence with which to convict the defendant
On reading this development, we see something very important: past procedure is explained, criticized, the criticizm is justified and then the solution is suggested. Other methods having been proved impractical, this new approach requires little support. The result is a problem solution essay where there are elements of a cause and effect essay as well as an argumentative essay and this is perfectly natural. So don’t take those formulas for essay writing too seriously but as a very general framework; this is essay writing after all. Let us take a look at the development of the second introduction provided above:
The only way to reduce the influence of the shadow education system is to adopt some of the policies they implement. There is a very important reason for this: parents need to be persuaded to trust standard education; something they don’t currently do. One popular policy of such establishments is regular contact with parents. This feedback involves texting parents every day to report the safe arrival of the student and the progress he has made that day, weekly emails and regular meetings. Keeping the parents in the loop and involving them will motivate them and as a result, the students.
The second group of solutions involves the teachers. The practice of regular performance reviews involving questionnaires given to students should become commonplace. In shadow education  establishments, salaries teachers receive are then linked to these reviews with those scoring badly first being put on probation then dismissed. Such a policy might provide an incentive for teachers to work harder and not rest on their laurels. Regular in house training should also become widespread to enable the system to keep up with changing demand. At present, shadow education establishments are more innovative, more apt to use modern technology and keep up with the demands of the current century. Standard education needs to catch up.
If you notice there are again two broad categories which are then further elaborated on but this doesn’t mean that all developments are two general paragraphs; there is no such rule: a development can be two, three, four, five paragraphs or more depending on the demands of the topic and the length of the piece of writing. Both the samples provided here are reading relared activities; this being the case, the points have been taken from the texts.
The conclusion
The conclusion is traditionally the part of the essay where the writer commences to genralize and move away from the specifics of the topic. This is one way to write a conclusion; another is to write a restatement or a summary. Let us look at the conclusion to our first example, Miscarriages of Justice:
As can be seen, human psychology is of great value when trying to arrive at the truth and deliver justice. With the help of information provided by psychologists, the number of judicial errors could, perhaps, be minimized, which would benefit the individuals concerned as well as the state and the institution.
This conclusion is not a restatement but a sort of ‘moving away from the spesifics of the topic’ and therefore a typical conclusion. Let us now examine the conclusion to our second example “The shadow education system”
Education is becoming more competitive as demands of students for better education increases and the private sector becomes ever more involved. The belief that quality of education is positively correlated with the money spent needs to be ammended and the only way to do this is to persuade state establishments to change with the times. Such a transformation will bring trust in the system and make the country an academic superpower
This conclusion is what we call a restatement: the main arguments made in the essay are touched on but expressed in a different way. This conclusion also fits in with accepted norms by moving away from the spesifics of the development due to its more genral tone. Before we end this section, let us look at one complete example:

Reading related essay: Search Me: Online Reputation Management; Level *** reading tasks
Until quite recently, building a reputation took years of hard work and proving yourself in society. Be they good and worthwhile or dangerous and unsavory, reputations involved memories of deeds done. Although a general impression was often retained, it was possible to escape one’s past and start again. Memories were not set in stone as they are now thanks to the internet.In the modern world, unlike tha past, an unfair and snide remark may stay around forever making starting up impossible. Since nothing on the internet is ever “forgotten”, online reputation management has been gaining ever more importance in the modern world. There are various ways, according to experts, a company or an individual can amend his reputation thus providing himself with new opportunities.
There are various solutions companies can resort to in order to improve their standing. The first thing they need to make sure of is that all that comes up on the first page of a Google search is positive and complementary, which is the case because most people don’t look beyond the first page as a rule. This can be achieved most easily by actually owning the assets on the first page; most globetrotting companies like Siemens, Sony and Toyota achieve this automatically. Failing that, false reviews may be posted on behalf of the company. Naturally, the most honest way of gaining actual control of the first page is by posting real assets where possible. If all else fails positive searches can be conducted until the penny drops with Google.  It is obvious that there is a lot that can be done in the modern world to manipulate a company’s reputation.
Individuals can also do a lot to help themselves by improving their online reputations. An obvious first step is joining big networking sites like LinkedIn, which has become one of the first places people will look when checking an individual out for a job. In the case of a lot people, there are photographs that one would rather forget about, thoughtless remarks one has made and wish one hadn’t out there on the web. One way to get rid of them is to make positive searches until your fingers bleed. Another good idea is to have online profiles lodged with professional listing sites. Then there is the silver bullet: establish a blog or website and update regularly. There is nothing like this to tidy up that first page in a Google search.
Although in the modern world nothing ‘is forgotten’, the undesirables can be buried so deep that they are effectively made to disappear. The techniques that can be used to affect such a transformation are relatively simple and well within the realms of possibility. Naturally, prevention is easier than cure and the best rule of thumb is to think before you post.

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