Problem/ Solution Expository Essay Writing Prompt

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Problem/ Solution Expository Essay

Writing Prompt

  • Your community wants to make improvements to a local park near your school. You may select one of a committee’s three suggestions: sports/recreation center, music/dance/drama center, video/game center, or you may choose one of your own suggestions for a center. You have been chosen to attend a community meeting as one of your school’s representatives. Write a speech in which you evaluate which suggestion (one of the committee’s or your own) would be best for the community.

As you write…

  • Focus on your evaluation of how the suggestion would be the best for the community.
  • Choose words that are well-suited to the purpose, audience, and context of your speech.
  • Organize your speech so that your ideas and examples progress logically.
  • Include relevant details that clearly develop your speech.
  • Edit your speech for standard grammar and language usage.


Focus on the Problem

  • Describe the problem
  • What causes the problem?
  • Why is this a problem that needs to be solved?

Focus on the Solution

  • Describe ONE solution to the problem
  • What are the steps that must be taken for this solution to work?
  • Who will be involved? What will happen to make this solution work? When will the solution take place? How will the solution work?

Make Concessions

  • Show you’ve put some thought into your solution by acknowledging and critiquing other possible solutions to your topic. Explain your reasons for rejecting them. Your goal: make your solution appear to be the best solution.


  • Conclude with a call to action. Encourage your audience to accept your views and join the cause. Use projection: show your audience what your community will be like if they do or do not adopt your solution. Or ask them to take simple steps to bring about the change you desire. Help them continue the fight.

Shanty Towns

  • There are numerous health problems in shanty towns. Firstly, because the sites are illegal the government does not provide piped water. As a result, drinking and bathing water are usually dirty and this causes diseases such as dysentery, typhoid and hepatitis, as well as skin and eye diseases. Secondly, houses are often overcrowded and have poor air circulation. This makes it easier to catch diseases like flu, TB and diphtheria where infection enters through the throat. Thirdly, there are no drains, sewers or rubbish collection services. The resulting pools of stagnant water and heaps of household waste attract rats and insects, which can pass on diseases.
  • The government could do a lot to solve these problems. For example, they could supply clean, piped water to individual houses or, at least, to neighborhoods. This would make drinking water safe and reduce infections. In addition, the authorities could provide householders with building materials to improve their conditions and educate them about the importance of ventilation. Lastly, the city council could construct drains and provide a rubbish collection service to reduce the risk of infections spread by rats and insects.
  • If the government took these steps, the result would be a safer, healthier environment. Furthermore, the improvements would also lead to increased employment opportunities in areas such as construction, plumbing and rubbish disposal. It is time for politicians to come to the aid of the people who elected them!

Planning Your Own "Problem-Solution" Essay

  • 1. Choose a problem
  • 2. Make notes to identify the problem/s. For example, notes for the "Shanty Town" essay would start like the table to the right. You need to have several problems that contribute to your overall problem.
  • Outline of Problem
  • Solutions
  • no piped water (drinking + bathing water are dirty à diseases)
  • overcrowded houses, poor ventilation

Planning Your Own "Problem-Solution" Essay

  • 3. Make a list of possible solutions.
  • 4. Don’t stick to just one area of solutions. Be creative and inventive. Think of as many possible solutions as you can!
  • Problems
  • Solutions
  • no piped water (drinking + bathing water are dirty à diseases)
  • overcrowded houses, poor ventilation
  • govt. provide piped water
  • govt. help householders to build better houses)

Writing Your Thesis

  • A sentence in the essay that states the thesis
  • Usually expressed in the first paragraph, as part of the introduction
  • Should be “just right”
    • Not too general or it will not provide adequate direction for the essay
    • Not too specific or it will be difficult to develop into a series of related paragraphs


  • Topic: Controlling our children
    • Too General Thesis: Children must be disciplined.
    • Too specific thesis: Teachers have a role in the discipline of children.
    • Precise thesis: By using disciplinary techniques, parents, teachers, and police are the main agents for controlling children
      • Provides three groups to discuss, general enough to allow for the development of several main ideas and specific enough to give the essay structure and organization

Examples Continued

  • By using disciplinary techniques, parents, teachers, and police are the main agents responsible for controlling children.
      • Main Idea 1: There are a variety of techniques available to parents who are willing to take responsibility for disciplining their children
      • Main Idea 2: Teachers are also important agents of discipline for children in today’s society.
      • Main Idea 3: If criminal behavior is involved, police take the responsibility to control children through the legal system.

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