IELTS® Academic Reading Practice 37

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Chinese Medicine

The Tang dynasty (618–907) of ancient China witnessed many advancements in Chinese science and technology, with various developments in woodblock printing, timekeeping, mechanical engineering, medicine, structural engineering, cartography, and alchemy. If no further evidence was available of the sophistication of China in the Tang era, then a look at Chinese medicine would be sufficient. At the Western end of the Eurasian continent the Roman empire had vanished, and there was nowhere new to claim the status of the cultural and political centre of the world. In fact, for a few centuries, this centre happened to be the capital of the Tang empire, and Chinese medicine under the Tang was far ahead of its European counterpart. The organisational context of health and healing was structured to a degree that had no precedence in Chinese history and found no parallel elsewhere.

An Imperial Medical Office had been inherited from previous dynasties: it was immediately restructured and staffed with directors and deputy directors, chief and assistant medical directors, pharmacists and curators of medicinal herb gardens and further personnel. Within the first two decades after consolidating its rule, the Tang administration set up one central and several provincial medical colleges with professors, lecturers, clinical practitioners and pharmacists to train students in one or all of the four departments of medicine, acupuncture, physical therapy, and exorcism. Physicians were given positions in governmental medical service only after passing qualifying examinations. They were remunerated in accordance with the number of cures they had affected during the past year.

In 723 Emperor Xuanzong personally composed a general formulary of prescriptions recommended to him by one of his imperial pharmacists and sent it to all the provincial medical schools. An Arabic traveler, who visited China in 851, noted with surprise that prescriptions from the emperor’s formulary were publicised on notice boards at crossroads to enhance the welfare of the population.

The government took care to protect the general populace from potentially harmful medical practice. The Tang legal code was the first in China to include laws concerned with harmful and heterodox medical practices. For example, to treat patients for money without adhering to standard procedures was defined as fraud combined with theft and had to be tried in accordance with the legal statutes on theft. If such therapies resulted in the death of a patient, the healer was to be banished for two and a half years. In case a physician purposely failed to practice according to the standards, he was to be tried in accordance with the statutes on premeditated homicide. Even if no harm resulted, he was to be sentenced to sixty strokes with a heavy cane.

In fact, physicians practicing during the Tang era had access to a wealth of pharmaceutical and medical texts, their contents ranging from purely pragmatic advice to highly sophisticated theoretical considerations. Concise descriptions of the position, morphology, and functions of the organs of the human body stood side by side in libraries with books enabling readers to calculate the daily, seasonal and annual climatic conditions of cycles of sixty years and to understand and predict their effects on health.

Several Tang authors wrote large collections of prescriptions, continuing a literary tradition documented since the 2nd century BC. The two most outstanding works to be named here were those by Sun Simiao (581-682?) and Wang Tao (c.670-755). The latter was a librarian who copied more than six thousand formulas, categorized in 1,104 sections, from sixty-five older works and published them under the title Wciitai Miyao. Twenty-four sections, for example, were devoted to ophthalmology. They reflect the Indian origin of much Chinese knowledge on ailments of the eye and, in particular, of cataract surgery.

Sun Simiao was the most eminent physician and author not only of the Tang dynasty but of the entire first millennium AD. He was a broadly educated intellectual and physician; his worldview integrated notions of all three of the major currents competing at his time - Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism. Sun Simiao gained fame during his lifetime as a clinician (he was summoned to the imperial court at least once) and as the author of the Prescriptions Worth Thousands in Gold (Qianjinfang) and its sequel. In contrast to developments in the 12th century, physicians relied on prescriptions and single substances to treat their patients’ illnesses. The theories of systematic correspondences, characteristic of the acupuncture tradition, had not been extended to cover pharmacology yet.

Sun Simiao rose to the pantheon of Chinese popular Buddhism in about the 13th century. He was revered as paramount Medicine God. He gained this extraordinary position in Chinese collective memory not only because he was an outstanding clinician and writer, but also for his ethical concerns. Sun Simiao was the first Chinese author to compose an elaborate medical ethical code. Even though based on Buddhist and Confucian values, his deontology is comparable to the Hippocratic Oath. It initiated a debate on the task of medicine, its professional obligations, social position and moral justification that continued until the arrival of Western medicine in the 19th century.

Despite or - more likely - because of its long-lasting affluence and political stability, the Tang dynasty did not add any significantly new ideas to the interpretation of illness, health, and healing. Medical thought reflects human anxieties; changes in medical thought always occur in the context of new existential fears or of fundamentally changed social circumstances. Nevertheless, medicine was a most fascinating ingredient of Tang civilization and it left a rich legacy to subsequent centuries.




This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 1-13.
Questions 1-10
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 1-10 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE   if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE   if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN   if there is no information on this.

1. Chinese medicine during the Tang era was historically advanced.

2. The medical knowledge available during the Tang era only benefited the wealthy people.

3. The overall health of the population during the Tang era was exceptional.

4. The use of unorthodox medical practices contravened the law during the Tang era.

5. Medical reference books were widely available during the Tang era.

6. Medical reference materials during the Tang era covered practical and academic issues.

7. Wciitai miyao contained medical data from the Tang era.

8. The first known medical writing in China dates back to the 2nd century.

9. The practice of acupuncture prevailed during the Tang era.

10. Ethical writing was a tradition in Chinese culture long before the time of Sun Simiao.

Questions 11-13
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

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

11. In the first paragraph, the author puts emphasis on ...

12. Amid the Tang era, a physician’s compensation relied on...

13. Sun Simiao’s work is NOT notable for…




Answer Sheet
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
N/A
15
N/A
16
N/A
17
N/A
18
N/A
19
N/A
20
N/A
21
N/A
22
N/A
23
N/A
24
N/A
25
N/A
26
N/A
27
N/A
28
N/A
29
N/A
30
N/A
31
N/A
32
N/A
33
N/A
34
N/A
35
N/A
36
N/A
37
N/A
38
N/A
39
N/A
40
N/A


Reading Passage Vocabulary
Chinese Medicine


The Tang dynasty (618–907) of ancient China witnessed many advancements in Chinese science and technology, with various developments in woodblock printing, timekeeping, mechanical engineering, medicine, structural engineering, cartography, and alchemy. If no further evidence was available of the sophistication of China in the Tang era, then a look at Chinese medicine would be sufficient. At the Western end of the Eurasian continent the Roman empire had vanished, and there was nowhere new to claim the status of the cultural and political centre of the world. In fact, for a few centuries, this centre happened to be the capital of the Tang empire, and Chinese medicine under the Tang was far ahead of its European counterpart. The organisational context of health and healing was structured to a degree that had no precedence in Chinese history and found no parallel elsewhere.

An Imperial Medical Office had been inherited from previous dynasties: it was immediately restructured and staffed with directors and deputy directors, chief and assistant medical directors, pharmacists and curators of medicinal herb gardens and further personnel. Within the first two decades after consolidating its rule, the Tang administration set up one central and several provincial medical colleges with professors, lecturers, clinical practitioners and pharmacists to train students in one or all of the four departments of medicine, acupuncture, physical therapy, and exorcism. Physicians were given positions in governmental medical service only after passing qualifying examinations. They were remunerated in accordance with the number of cures they had affected during the past year.

In 723 Emperor Xuanzong personally composed a general formulary of prescriptions recommended to him by one of his imperial pharmacists and sent it to all the provincial medical schools. An Arabic traveler, who visited China in 851, noted with surprise that prescriptions from the emperor’s formulary were publicised on notice boards at crossroads to enhance the welfare of the population.

The government took care to protect the general populace from potentially harmful medical practice. The Tang legal code was the first in China to include laws concerned with harmful and heterodox medical practices. For example, to treat patients for money without adhering to standard procedures was defined as fraud combined with theft and had to be tried in accordance with the legal statutes on theft. If such therapies resulted in the death of a patient, the healer was to be banished for two and a half years. In case a physician purposely failed to practice according to the standards, he was to be tried in accordance with the statutes on premeditated homicide. Even if no harm resulted, he was to be sentenced to sixty strokes with a heavy cane.

In fact, physicians practicing during the Tang era had access to a wealth of pharmaceutical and medical texts, their contents ranging from purely pragmatic advice to highly sophisticated theoretical considerations. Concise descriptions of the position, morphology, and functions of the organs of the human body stood side by side in libraries with books enabling readers to calculate the daily, seasonal and annual climatic conditions of cycles of sixty years and to understand and predict their effects on health.

Several Tang authors wrote large collections of prescriptions, continuing a literary tradition documented since the 2nd century BC. The two most outstanding works to be named here were those by Sun Simiao (581-682?) and Wang Tao (c.670-755). The latter was a librarian who copied more than six thousand formulas, categorized in 1,104 sections, from sixty-five older works and published them under the title Wciitai Miyao. Twenty-four sections, for example, were devoted to ophthalmology. They reflect the Indian origin of much Chinese knowledge on ailments of the eye and, in particular, of cataract surgery.

Sun Simiao was the most eminent physician and author not only of the Tang dynasty but of the entire first millennium AD. He was a broadly educated intellectual and physician; his worldview integrated notions of all three of the major currents competing at his time - Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism. Sun Simiao gained fame during his lifetime as a clinician (he was summoned to the imperial court at least once) and as the author of the Prescriptions Worth Thousands in Gold (Qianjinfang) and its sequel. In contrast to developments in the 12th century, physicians relied on prescriptions and single substances to treat their patients’ illnesses. The theories of systematic correspondences, characteristic of the acupuncture tradition, had not been extended to cover pharmacology yet.

Sun Simiao rose to the pantheon of Chinese popular Buddhism in about the 13th century. He was revered as paramount Medicine God. He gained this extraordinary position in Chinese collective memory not only because he was an outstanding clinician and writer, but also for his ethical concerns. Sun Simiao was the first Chinese author to compose an elaborate medical ethical code. Even though based on Buddhist and Confucian values, his deontology is comparable to the Hippocratic Oath. It initiated a debate on the task of medicine, its professional obligations, social position and moral justification that continued until the arrival of Western medicine in the 19th century.

Despite or - more likely - because of its long-lasting affluence and political stability, the Tang dynasty did not add any significantly new ideas to the interpretation of illness, health, and healing. Medical thought reflects human anxieties; changes in medical thought always occur in the context of new existential fears or of fundamentally changed social circumstances. Nevertheless, medicine was a most fascinating ingredient of Tang civilization and it left a rich legacy to subsequent centuries.

 
IELTS Academic Reading Tips for Success
These are general tips that will appear on all reading questions.

Tips to improve your reading speed
To get a high score on the IELTS reading section, you need to have a fast reading speed. To have a fast reading speed, you need to improve your vocabulary and practice dissecting sentences. One strategy to dissect a sentence is to look for the subject and verb of the sentence. Finding the subject and verb will help you better understand the main idea of said sentence. Keep in mind, a common feature of a IELTS reading passage is to join strings of ideas to form long compound sentences. This produces large chunks that students have a hard time absorbing. Do not get overwhelmed by its length, just look for the subject and verb, the rest of the ideas will flow.


Keep in mind, having a slow reading speed makes skimming or scanning a reading passage more difficult. The process of quickly skimming through a reading passage for specific keywords or main ideas is a requirement for you to employ successful reading strategies to improve your IELTS reading score. In other words, skimming and scanning are critical skills to ensure you complete all questions in the allotted time frame.
IELTS Reading Strategies
Once you can read and comprehend a passage with a rate of, at least, 220 words per minute, you'll be ready to start implementing our strategies. All too often, students spend too much time reading the passages and not enough time answering the questions. Here is a step by step guide for tackling the reading section.

  1. Step 1: Read questions first

    One of the most common mistakes that candidates make when approaching the reading exam is reading every single word of the passages. Although you can practice for the exam by reading for pleasure, "reading blindly" (reading without any sense of what the questions will ask) will not do you any favors in the exam. Instead, it will hurt your chances for effectively managing your time and getting the best score.

    The main reason to read the questions first is because the type of question may determine what you read in the passage or how you read it. For example, some question types will call for the "skimming" technique, while others may call for the "scanning" technique.

    It is important to answer a set of questions that are of the same question type. You'll need to determine which question type you want to tackle first. A good strategy would be to start with the easier question type and move on to more difficult question types later. The Easiest question types are the ones where you spend less time reading. For example, the Matching Heading question type is an easier one because you only need to find the heading that best describes the main idea of a paragraph. An example of a difficult question type would be Identifying Information. For this question type, you'll need to read each paragraph to find out if each statement is TRUE, FALSE, or NOT GIVEN according to the passage.

    Here is a table that lists the difficulty levels for each question type. Use this table as a reference when choosing which question type you want to tackle first.


    Difficulty level Question Type
    Easy Sentence Completion
    Short answer
    Medium Matching Features
    Multiple choice
    Matching Headings
    Summary, Table, Flow-Chart Completion
    Difficult Matching Sentence Endings
    Matching Information
    Identifying Information (TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN)
    Identifying Viewer's claims (YES/NO/NOT GIVEN)

  2. Step 2: Read for an objective

    After you've read the questions for the passage, you will be able to read for an objective. What does this mean? For example, if you come across a question that includes the year "1896", you can make a note of when this year comes up in the text, using it to answer the question later on. There are two reading techniques that will help you stay on track with reading for an objective. The first one, skimming, is best defined as reading fast in order to get the "gist", or general idea, or a passage. With this technique, you are not stopping for any unfamiliar words or looking for specific details. The second technique, scanning, is best defined as reading for specific information. With this technique, you are not reading for the overall gist, but rather, specific information. Notice how each of these techniques has a specific objective in mind. This will help you find information more quickly.

  3. Step 3: Take notes

    As you're reading for an objective, you should also be making notes on the margins of the passage, placing stars next to key information, or underlining things that you believe will help you answer the various questions. This will make it easier for you to check back when you are asked certain things in the questions. Choose whichever note-taking system is right for you - just make sure you do it!

  4. Step 4: Answer wisely

    After you've read the questions, read the passage, and have taken any appropriate notes, you you should have located the part of the text where you where you need to read carefully. Then just read carefully and think critically to determine the correct answer.

IELTS Reading Question Types
 
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