Today, we are going to look at the process of writing an answer to a cause and solution IELTS essay. This is a common question type that will generally ask you to describe a cause (or reason) for an issue and then suggest some solutions.

What are Cause and Solution Essays?

In IELTS writing task 2, you may be asked to discuss the cause of a problem and then suggest some solutions to solve it. There are a wide array of possibilities and sometimes the words “cause” and “solution” are not actually used, so it can be a little difficult to spot these.

Here is an example:

Some people get into debt buying things they don’t need and can’t afford.

What are the reasons for this behaviour?

What action can be taken to prevent people having this problem?

In the first part, it does not say “what is the cause?” Instead, it says “What are the reasons…?” This is why it is important to read carefully and to think in terms of synonyms. In the second question, it does not say “solutions,” but instead says “What actions can… prevent…?” Again, if you read carefully you will realise this means “What are the solutions to the problem?”

Structure for Cause and Solution Essays

Thankfully, it is very easy to structure a cause and solution essay for IELTS. You simply need to write four paragraphs, with one body paragraph about the causes and one body paragraph about the solutions:

  • Introduction – introduce the topic
  • Body paragraph #1 – explain the causes of the problem
  • Body paragraph #2 – explain the solutions to the problem
  • Conclusion – summarise briefly

This is very, very easy to do. However, today I would like to show you a little more. In fact, I am going to discuss some complicated issues to help you produce a more advanced essay structure.

how to structure ielts essays for cause and solution

How Many Causes and How Many Solutions?

When I talk about IELTS essay structures, I often tell people to write just one main idea per paragraph. This is because for IELTS it is really important to give development and if you write too much then it can end up more like a list than an essay.

However, with cause and solution essays, you can get into multiple causes and multiple solutions if you are careful. Whilst it is fine to write one single cause and one single solution, you might find it easier to list many. However, I would suggest that you must structure this more carefully because you need to link the causes and solutions clearly.

For each cause, you could find one direct solution and link them in the following way:

advanced structure for cause and solution essay

I would recommend using a maximum of three problems and solutions for the aforementioned reason of development. If you wrote a list of five or six, you would not realistically be able to explain them properly.


To understand this better, let’s look at an example cause and solution question:

More and more wild animals are on the verge of extinction and others are on the endangered list.

What are the reasons for this?

What can be done to solve this problem?

When I read this question, I first thought, “Wow! It’s really hard to answer it because it’s such a vast issue!” Thus, I would want to mention many factors. Rather than listing them, I’ll boil them down to three causes and three direct solutions:

Destruction of natural habitatsEnding deforestation
Poaching for Chinese medicineBetter education
Commercial fishingLegal limits on trawl fishing

The benefit of this method is that I can include three big ideas about the problems and then counter each of them with a specific solution. The drawback of course is that I cannot go into much detail. This will be more of a problem for the solution section because obviously issues like “ending deforestation” are incredibly complex and require a lot of discussion. However, you cannot say everything for IELTS.

In order to put across the complexity of the situation and show my understanding of it, I will mention several times that it will be difficult to solve and that the problem is very serious. I will conclude my “solutions” paragraph with a note about the unlikeliness of any real change happening because it is true and also in order to counter any complaints about my ideas being unrealistic.

Sample Band 9 Answer

It is apparent nowadays that humans have had a devastating effect on the environment, and in particular we have caused the extinction of countless species of animals. This essay will explore the reasons for this and mention some possible solutions.

To begin with, there are various causes for the reduction in animal populations around the world. Perhaps the main cause is the destruction of their environment. Humans have cut down rainforests and polluted the seas, which has meant that animal no longer have their natural habitat and thus cannot survive. Beyond that, they are poached in order to satisfy the demand for fake medicines in Asia. Every day, elephants and rhinos are killed in Africa and then sent to China. Beyond that, the growing demand for fish has meant that vast fleets of fishing boats trawl the seas, causing the eradication of wildlife there. Many whales and dolphins, for example, are caught up in these nets as a tragic by-product of the industry.

Fixing this problem will be difficult and for many species it is already too late. The most important factor will be the cessation of deforestation in places like Brazil and Malaysia. Humans have to recognise the value of nature rather than focusing on obtaining more land for farming or housing. Education needs to be drastically improved in Asia and also punishments strictly enforced to end the sadistic trafficking of animals for these so-called medicines. Finally, ethical fishing needs to be practised, with limits on trawl nets and ranges for fishing boats. Sadly, none of this is particularly likely due to a lack of concern amongst most of the citizens of the world, and so of course education must be improved before it is too late.

In conclusion, there are various factors that have caused the tragic loss of biodiversity in this world, but there are some steps that could be taken to mitigate the damage.