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Online Writing Lab

The Problem-Reducing Essay

A problem-reducing essay is often referred to as a problem-solving (or problem-solution) essay. While these terms are interchangeable, the term problem-reducing is generally preferred because many problems cannot be completely solved, but they can often be reduced. Thus, the goal of a problem-reducing essay isn’t to find the perfect solution for a particular problem, but instead to find the best solution. 

Topic selection is particularly important when writing a problem-reducing essay.  As a writer, your goal is to find a topic that is big enough to affect others but isn’t so big that it cannot be successfully managed with a few pages of writing. For instance, your personal lack of spending money is a too-narrow topic because it does not impact others. Global poverty is too big and complex of an issue to successfully manage. It is also important to avoid issues that have obvious solutions. 

The best topics for this type of essay are local-based issues, such as city, county, neighborhood ones, or issues that affect your particular college campus. It is sometimes possible to find a local focus to a larger issue.

For example, if you are interested in writing about healthcare, this topic may work if the focus is narrow.  An essay that attempts to solve or reduce the national healthcare problem is too broad. Perhaps you can write about how your community or college campus can provide better and more affordable healthcare for young adults or students. As always, consult with your instructor before committing to a particular topic. 

Before a problem can be solved or reduced, you must first demonstrate the problem actually exists. Additionally, it is often important to evaluate several possible solutions and show why a particular one is best. Therefore, a problem-reducing essay generally follows the following format,

It is also important to be honest about the ideal solution that is presented. Don't hesitate to point out some of the drawbacks that come with this particular solution. Just be sure to show how even with these problems; it is still a better solution than others. Remember, the solution is often the best one, not the perfect one.