Essay Assignment #5: Proposing a Solution

Important Dates:

First draft due: Conference (November 10, 12, 14, and 17)

Final draft due: Wednesday, November 19.

Journal #5: November 19.


Your essay should be 3-4 pages, typed and double-spaced, using the MLA format.



Write an essay proposing a solution to some problem. Choose a problem faced by a community or group to which you belong, and address your proposal to one or more member of the group or to an outsider who might help to solve the problem. You must carefully analyze and define the problem for your perspective readers (audience), find a solution, defend your solution, test your choice, and offer reasons for adopting your proposal in detail. You need to argue that your solution for the problem is the most feasible. Because it is difficult to write about problems distant from your own personal experience, please choose a topic that concerns you.


Since you are trying to convince your audience that your solution is the most sound, your essay should provide your readers with a brief history of the problem, acknowledgment of opposing solutions, and a clear and effective argument to support your solution.

1) Identify the problem: Early in your essay, you will need to clearly identify the problem you are addressing. This will require describing, and/or limiting the problem. Think about how much you need to say about the problem's causes or history, how you show the seriousness of the problem, and/or how you emphasize this. Convince that the problem really exists and is worthy of their attention.

2) Discuss possible solutions: Announcing the solution is the thesis of the proposal. Once you have identified the problem, you will in turn need to discuss the possible solutions to the problem. You may discuss 2-3 alternate solutions and each should be believable and workable.

3) Argue that your solution is better than the others: Discussing the possible solutions should consist of examining the pros and cons of each, including your own. Be sure to address any concerns that your readers may have about your suggested solution.

It is unlikely that you will be able to utterly refute and entirely disdain any one of the alternate solutions because all of them will be believable and workable. In order to clearly pass this essay, your thesis must state that even though all the solutions may be helpful or plausible, your solution is definitely better than others by showing the superior quality of your solution. Your solution would possibly solve the problem more efficiently, more thoroughly, less expensively or with less risk.

***** As always, please keep in mind that I am here to help you in your writing process -- you are not in this alone. Your achievement requirements also provide information on the writing center and how you can go about seeking help there as well.

Finding a problem to write about:

Any problems that you have with families, friends, or relatives

A dangerous area in your neighborhood.  Intersections in your neighborhood that have frequent traffic accidents.

Freeway traffic jam during rush hours.

Problems at your working place or on campus.

Any serious problem that you have in your club.  

Conflicts that you have with your customers, manager or colleagues at your working place.

Prewriting Directions

Answer these questions as thoroughly as possible. Remember that the more information you provide here, the less you will have to dig up when drafting your essay.

1) Describe the problem you are discussing in your essay -- be detailed and specific.

2) What are the various perceptions surrounding the existence of this problem? (who, when, where, what, why, how )

3) Describe any efforts being made to solve/straighten up the problem. Who is (are) making these efforts ?

4) Evaluate the situation: Are there any problems with the efforts that are currently being made? What are these problems ? Describe the problems that you (your group, or others) have with these failing efforts.

5) What are the main causes of the problem you are attempting to address in your essay?

6) What will happen if this problem being discussed in your essay is not removed?

7) List any possible solutions to this problem. This list should include any solutions you have thought about on your own as well as others you may have read about or heard about.

8) What information can you use from outside sources to help support and/or illustrate these solutions?

9) Which of the solutions would work best in solving this problem that you address in your essay? Why ?

10) Pay close attention to your solution. How do you think readers will respond to your solution? Why ?

11) Anticipate possible counterarguments for your readers, then be prepared to defend yourself against them.

Counterarguments and Defense

12 ) List any plausible reason you could give your readers to convince them to accept your suggested solution.

13) Which are the best reasons? Make a list of these reasons and detail why they should be important to your readers and in turn why they are important support for your argument for a particular solution.

14) Describe any advantages/disadvantages (if any) of adopting your solution(s).



"Proposing a Solution" Essay


I) Introduction

Presentation of the Problem: Some options: Scenario, statistics, questions, authoritative quote.

II) Define Problem: Why is this a problem? What are involved in this problem? Why is it so serious? What are some of the negative consequences if the problem is not solved? What has done in the past to solve this problem? Why did they fail? What else needs to be done? 

Your solution should be the thesis statement of the essay.


III) Your Plan: List the steps for implementing the solution in two paragraphs.

Show how to implement your plan. What should be done? How should it be done? Give reasons why this is the best solution to the problem. What can be accomplished if your plan is implemented?

IV) Alternate Solutions (Choose two alternate solutions and then refute them in two paragraphs respectively).

What are the alternate solutions? What are the advantages/disadvantages of each? Why is your solution better than these other solutions?

V) Counterarguments (to your solution): one paragraph

What types of objections could be made concerning your proposed solution? Refute these objections. Explain why your solution is still the best, despite each objection. Tell why your solution is still worth implementing.


VI) Options: Restate the problem and summarize your solution

Summarize your argument regarding why the subject of your essay is a problem and why your solution is the best option.

Make a call for action to your audience to implement your solution and summarize the reasons highlighted in your essay.

Present a scenario of the possible consequences if your solution is not implemented.

More Testing, More Learning