In the prewriting stage of a researched essay, you will do a lot of reading and information gathering. In this stage of the process, you should keep your information organized carefully so that you can find it when it comes time to write your essay.

Understand the assignment

For this essay, you will choose a specific problem that affects a wide audience and investigate several solutions for it. Your teacher will give you specific requirements for this essay regarding the number of sources you should use and the length of the finished essay.


Remember that after you do enough preliminary research to brainstorm and choose your focus, you should do more detailed research about your topic so that you can make your outline.


You can use a mind map, a free write, general internet search, or a discussion group if you are having a difficult time thinking of things to write about.

Choose a focus

If you have a general topic, start with a simple internet search about it to find specific ideas you can focus on.


Also begin an outline for your essay. As you research about your topic, start organizing your findings. Some people begin an outline by listing topics and quotes. Others write topic sentences and supporting sentences. A problem/solution essay follows typical essay organization.

Example problem solution outline

Problem: frequent, mild acid reflux/heartburn


1. Awareness of eating habits:

  • don't overeat, eat slow
  • be careful of 'trigger' foods
  • eat foods that help:
  • "You may have heard that drinking a glass of milk can relieve heartburn. While it's true that milk can temporarily buffer stomach acid, nutrients in milk, particularly fat, may stimulate the stomach to produce more acid. Even though milk might not be a great heartburn remedy, however, it's a rich source of bone-building calcium. Try fat-free skim milk and don't overdo it. Drink no more than 8 ounces of skim milk at a time -- as a snack in between meals. Overfilling the stomach may increase heartburn."
  • don't eat immediately before bed - 2-3 hours
  • eat smaller, more frequent meals
  • keep a food diary

2. Activity and lifestyle changes:

  • sleep propped up
  • don't lie down after eating
  • take a walk after meals, exercise
  • quit smoking and drinking
  • chew gum
  • looser clothing

3. Seek treatment:

"Seek immediate medical care if you have chest pain, especially if you also have shortness of breath, or jaw or arm pain. These may be signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Make an appointment with your doctor if you:

  • Experience severe or frequent GERD symptoms
  • Take over-the-counter medications for heartburn more than twice a week",reflux%20can%20lead%20to%20GERD%20.


Your introduction should start by describing the problem. You should give the reader any background information they need to be able to understand the problem.

Here are some questions that can help you think about background information that the reader needs to be able to understand the problem:

  • Where/when/why does the problem occur?
  • Who is affected by the problem?
  • What will happen if the problem is not solved?

At the end of your introduction paragraph, you should give your thesis. The thesis should respond to the problem by either presenting various solutions that may solve the problem or giving reasons that show why one solution is the best.

Thesis examples

Various solutions:

The best ways to manage stress are by learning about it, exercising, and strengthening social ties.

Reasons to defend the best solution:

The best way to manage stress is by exercising because it is natural, simple, and free.

It is also possible to have a thesis that indirectly states the main points: The best way to manage stress is by exercising.

Tip: Useful Phrases

Here are some phrases that are useful for writing a problem/solution thesis:

Government regulations can solve illegal media copying by...

Students who have a lot of stress should....

Getting vaccinated is the best solution to eradicate disease.

The most effective way for universities to assess performance is... Exercise: Revise thesis statements


Your body paragraphs should respond to the problem by describing the solution(s). If you chose to write about multiple solutions, describe a different solution in each body paragraph. If you chose one solution, describe different reasons why your solution is good in each body paragraph.

Make sure your topic sentences connect to your thesis. Look at the examples below for how the topic sentences should connect to your thesis.

Various Solutions

One Ideal Solution


The best ways to manage stress are by learning about it, exercising, and strengthening social ties.

Topic Sentence 1:

Learning about stress is an excellent way to begin managing it.

Topic Sentence 2:

Exercise is another excellent way to manage stress.

Topic Sentence 3:

Finally, strengthening social ties can help manage stress.


The best way to manage stress is by exercising because it is natural, simple, and free.

Topic Sentence 1:

Exercising is the best way to manage stress because it is natural.

Topic Sentence 2:

Another reason that exercise is the best way to manage stress is because it is simple to do.

Topic Sentence 3:

Finally, exercise is the best way to manage stress because it is free.


Your conclusion paragraph should start by restating your thesis. Then you should discuss your problem more generally and apply the solutions to the general context you established in your introduction. You can end with a closing statement that is a suggestion, prediction, or opinion. You can think of this part of a problem/solution essay as encouraging your reader to go make a change.

Example Conclusion

Compare the following problem/solution thesis statement about college admissions to the restated thesis in the conclusion.

Thesis statement from the introduction:

There are 3 main solutions to solving the issue of widespread disparities in college admissions, such as developing an efficient and accountable system that would regulate fairness, creating a more individualized and holistic approach to college admissions, and providing adequate opportunities to bridge the gap in extensive disparities among the student population.



In conclusion, it is strongly advocated that colleges need to implement the above-mentioned strategies for university admissions for the betterment of the academic and scientific community. This would ensure that students get better opportunities to achieve the fullness of their academic potential in their respective career decisions. This would be massively helpful in ensuring that resources are channeled in the right direction for the benefit of humanity and for the enhanced progress of the academic and scientific community.


Exercise 1: Revise thesis statements

Revise the thesis statements to be more effective for a problem/solution essay.

  1. Global warming is a very serious problem.
  2. Many countries lack clean water because the local wells are contaminated and unsafe to use.
  3. Some of these solutions are stigma reduction and raising of public awareness; training for health workers; and keep a good Of all these solutions, the last one is the best option for each country for the reasons that will be soon detailed with the other resolutions.
  4. I will show you why bribery in business is a very serious problem.
  5. Honesty in politics.
  6. The most creative and successful innovation solutions for water are purifiers, fog catchers, and air harvesting.
  7. There are many reasons why self-driving cars are dangerous.
  8. The solutions for resolve this problem are implement required programs for help the students to recognize and how to respond Established an effective system for report being bullied. Create a program for educated the parents to help their children to learn how to deal with this problem.

Exercise 2: Write topic sentences

Write topic sentences for the following problem/solution thesis statements.

1. Thesis: Frequent, mild heartburn can be managed by a few lifestyle changes, such as through eating habits, exercise, or by visiting a doctor.

Topic sentence 1: 


Topic sentence 2: 


Topic sentence 3: 


2. Thesis: The best way to overcome jet lag is to prepare before you leave by getting enough rest, slowly adjusting your schedule, and staying hydrated.

Topic sentence 1: 


Topic sentence 2: 


Topic sentence 3: 


Exercise 3: Restate your thesis

After planning your essay, write a possible thesis statement. Practice restating your thesis in different ways.



Restatement 1:


Restatement 2:


Restatement 3:


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