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Alternative Medicine in Australia Reading Answers IELTS sample

Updated on 13 April, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

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To score the desired band scores in the IELTS exam, you need to practice as many IELTS sample papers as possible. To prepare you better, here is a reading passage for practice with the topic ‘Alternative medicine in Australia’, with questions and their answers.

Alternative medicine in Australia

The first students to study alternative medicine at the university level in Australia started a four-year full-time course in early 1994 at the University of Technology in Sydney. Their course is acupuncture, among other therapies. The theory they learned was based on the standard Chinese interpretation of this ancient healing art, which regulates the flow of 'Qi' or energy through the paths in the body. This course reflects how far some alternative therapies have come in their struggle for approval by the medical institution.

According to Dr. Paul Laver, a public health lecturer at the University of Sydney, Australia has the most conservative approach to natural or alternative therapies in the Western world. 'We have a tradition that doctors are very strong, and I think they are very reluctant to allow any impersonator in their work to come into it.' In multiple industrialized countries, traditional and alternative medicine have been working 'hand in glove’ for many years. In Europe, only traditional healers can prescribe herbal medicines. In Germany, herbal remedies make up 10% of the national income from medicines. Americans visited alternative therapists more than Orthodox physicians in the 1990s, and spend about $ 12 billion every year on unscientific treatments.

Dissatisfaction with traditional medicine. Meantime, the popularity of alternative medicine in Australia has been steadily rising over the past 20 years. In the 1983 National Health Survey, 1.9% of people told they had consulted a chiropractor, naturopath, osteopath, acupuncturist, or herbalist two weeks before the poll. By 1990, this number had increased to 2.6% of the population. The 550,000 consultations with alternative therapists registered in the 1990 survey represent one-eighth of the total number of consultations conducted with clinically qualified individuals under the survey, according to Dr. Laver and colleagues who wrote in the 1993 Australian Journal of Public Health. ‘A better educated and less accepted public is generally frustrated with professionals and increasingly skeptical of science and experience-based knowledge,’ they expressed. ‘The high level of experts, including doctors, has been distorted as a result.

Instead of opposing or criticizing this trend, increasingly many Australian physicians, especially younger ones, form group practices with practitioners or practice themselves, especially in acupuncture and herbal medicine. Part of the incentive is funding, Dr. Laver stated. ‘The main feature of this is that most general practitioners are businessmen. If they find potential customers going elsewhere, they may like to offer a similar service.

In 1993, Dr. Laver and his colleagues published a survey of 289 Sydney people who attended the practices of eight alternative therapists in Sydney. These procedures provided a wide range of alternative treatments from 25 therapists. The subjects were suffering from chronic diseases, for which Orthodox medication was able to provide some relief. They commented that they would like the holistic attitude of their alternative therapists and the friendly, caring, and comprehensive attention they received. The cool, impersonal pattern of orthodox physicians was featured in the survey. Outflows from their clinics are on the rise, with numerous related studies conducted in Australia, all pointing out the shortcomings of traditional healers and leading physicians beginning to acknowledge that they can learn from the personal style of alternative therapists. Dr., President of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Patrick Store acknowledges that orthodox doctors can learn a lot from alternative therapists about bed rest habits and advising patients on preventive health.

According to the Australian Journal of Public Health, 18% of patients who visit alternative therapists suffer from musculoskeletal problems, and 12% suffer from digestive issues, which is 1% more than those with emotional troubles. Respiratory disorders account for 7% of patients, and Candida sufferers represent an equal percentage. Headache sufferers and those who complain of general malaise represent 6% and 5% of patients, respectively, and 4% see therapists for general health care.

The survey recommended that complementary medicine is a better term than alternative medicine. Alternative medicine seems to be an adjunct, strived after in times of frustration when orthodox medicine appears to be unresponsive.

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Questions 1 - 2:

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

Write your answers in boxes 1-2 on your answer sheet.

Guidelines/Tip for Answering These Types of Questions: Candidates have to choose the right answer for the questions from the list of options provided as A-D. To answer these questions, read the passage carefully before making a choice.

1.Traditionally, how have Australian doctors differed from doctors in many Western countries?

A. They have worked closely with pharmaceutical companies.

B. They have often worked alongside other therapists.

C. They have been reluctant to accept alternative therapies.

D. They have regularly prescribed alternative remedies.

2. In 1990, Americans

A. were prescribed more herbal medicines than in previous years.

B. consulted alternative therapists more often than doctors.

C. spent more on natural therapies than orthodox medicines.

D. made more complaints about doctors than in previous years.

Guidelines/Tip for Answering These Types of Questions: Candidates have to choose the right answer for the questions from the list of options provided. To answer these questions, read the passage carefully before making a choice.






Australian physicians have been quite against the adoption of any natural or alternative remedies, as opposed to several countries of the Western world.



The vast majority of Americans in the 1990s preferred alternative medicine over traditional medicine.

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Questions 3-10:

Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer in the Reading Passage?

Write in boxes 3-10 on your answer sheet 

YES if the statement agrees with the views of the writer

NO if the statement contradicts the views of the writer

NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

  1. Australians have been turning to alternative therapies in increasing numbers over the past 20 years.
  2. Between 1983 and 1990 the numbers of patients visiting alternative therapists rose to include a further 8% of the population.
  3. The 1990 survey related to 550,000 consultations with alternative therapists.
  4. In the past, Australians had a higher opinion of doctors than they do today.
  5. Some Australian doctors are retraining in alternative therapies.
  6. Alternative therapists earn higher salaries than doctors.
  7. The 1993 Sydney survey involved 289 patients who visited alternative therapists for acupuncture treatment.
  8. All the patients in the 1993 Sydney survey had long-term medical complaints.

Guidelines/Tip for Answering These Types of Questions: Candidates have to identify which statements agree with the views of the writer of the passage by tallying them with the information provided in the passage. To answer these questions, read the passage carefully before marking it as true or false.






Alternative therapies have gained popularity in Australia over the past 20 years, and demand is steadily increasing.



Since 1983, alternative therapies have seen an increase of eight percent in use.



According to a 1990 survey, people consult alternative therapists about 550,000 times annually.



New education has resulted in Aussies becoming more skeptical about scientific knowledge, which has resulted in a lower level of trust in doctors.



In recent years, alternative therapies have become more popular among Australian doctors.


Not Given

Several young Australian doctors are studying alternative therapies in the fourth paragraph, but there is no mention of whether alternative therapists earn more than conventional therapists.



Researchers from the University of Sydney surveyed 289 patients in 1993 about their therapy visits with alternative therapists.



Two hundred and eighty-nine patients living in Sydney with long-standing diseases were surveyed in 1993.

Questions 11-13:

Complete the vertical axis on the table below.

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from Reading Passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 11-13 on your answer sheet.

Guidelines/Tip for Answering These Types of Questions: Candidates are asked to write no more than three words in this type of question. You can quickly scan the passage and refer to the image to answer these questions.






Emotional Problems

People with emotional problems accounted for only 11 percent of the medical complaints.



The number of patients complaining of headaches visiting alternative therapists is only 6 percent.


General ill health

There are only about 4% of patients who seek alternative therapies for the maintenance of their general health, which is a very small percentage.

Important IELTS Exam Resources

IELTS Exam Overview

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IELTS Exam Syllabus

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IELTS Syllabus

IELTS Exam Pattern

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IELTS Exam Pattern

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