IELTS® General Reading Practice 39

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Within the world of pharmaceuticals, there are some significant issues within their design. These include drug packaging and patient information leaflets (PILS). Throughout the past several years, pharmacists have sent letters to medical journals criticizing the packaging designs as, “accidents waiting to happen.” In the pharmaceutical industry, packaging is designed by in-house teams or by design agencies. Meanwhile, over-the-counter medicine designs, which emphasize package attractiveness and recognizability, are usually created by hired agencies. After preparing a summary, marketing teams and designers will present several designs for companies to choose from, and finally, a select few will be tested on consumer groups. On the other hand, materials for prescription medicines are usually designed in-house, and sometimes this can be as simple as adding a logo or color to the design. Afterwards, design engineers will decide how to produce the selected materials. 

Thea Swayne, who authored “Information Design for Patient Safety,” followed the process of medicine from manufacturing, and distribution, to pharmacies and hospitals, and finally to the lives of patients who use them. Her recently published book examines many design issues with today's packaging. For example, she finds that lookalikes and soundalikes, small type sizes and glares on blister foils can be problematic. Instances when these seemingly small issues could present larger ones might be a parent providing cough medicine to their child late at night, or a busy pharmacist needing to quickly decide on one box of medicine out of a huge number. It is argued that packaging should be designed for moments such as these. “Manufacturers are not aware of the complex situations into which products go. As designers, we are interested in not what is supposed to happen in [hospital] wards, but what happens in the real world,” Ms. Swayne commented. If a person's vein receives an injection intrathecally rather than to the spine is a prototypical example of the ways which badly designed packaging may be problematic, or even dangerous. Upon investigation, it was found that poor typescript was a contributing factor to these kinds of tragedies.

Design improvement can also be applied to increase safety for children taking medications. Seven out of ten children who are hospitalized for potential poisoning were reported to have taken some kind of medicine, according to the Child Accident Prevention Trust. Despite the fact that child-resistant caps or closures do lower the instances of problems, none are completely child-proof. These closures are defined as being something that less than 15 percent of children between the ages of 42 and 51 months would be able to access in under five minutes. Richard Mawle, a freelance product designer claims that there is still more that could be done to prevent children from getting into medicine containers. “Many child-resistant packs are based on strength. They do not necessarily prevent a child from access, but may prevent people with a disability.” He went on, telling The Journal, “The legal requirements are there for a good reason, but they are not good enough in terms of the users.” He continued by saying, “Older people, especially those with arthritis, may have the same level of strength as a child.” Mawle seems to believe that updated designs relying on developed cognitive skills (eg. using a three-step process to open a container) or based on the physical size of hands could be potential improvements.

Mawle, working alongside GlaxoSmithKline on a project to improve compliance through design, applied his expertise and knowledge to packaging and PILs. Regarding this, he stated, “There can be an awful lot of junk at the beginning of PILs. For example, why are company details listed towards the beginning of a leaflet when what might be more important for the patient is that the medicine should not be taken with alcohol?”

Lookalike boxes are possible sources of selection mistakes. Therefore, one way to fix this using common-sense could be utilization of colors to indicate differences in doses. On the other hand, Ms. Swayne attests that differentiation by color should always be used cautiously. In these cases, color contrasts are best used when they are in strong contrast. However, it seems that assigning a particular color to mark a medicine's strength (color coding) is risky, as this could distract a user from taking the time to read text on packaging. 

There exists some controversy surrounding this issue, and there are even debates over packaging design. For instance, one might argue that if every package's coloring is white with black text, users would then be forced into reading each one with care. In this case, however, drug packaging design trials are not common, and instead usually focus on the readability and comprehensibility of road traffic signs or visual display units. Even though there are a few designers who will consider results from studies such as these, it is difficult to prove that a specific aspect benefits packaging legibility. In one example of this, consider that EU legislation now requires packaging to feature names of medicine in Braille. Meanwhile, according to a design consultant to the pharmaceutical industry, Karel van der Waarde, “it is not known how much visually impaired patients will benefit, nor how much the reading of patients without visual impairments will be impaired.”

More evidence might, however, soon be available. EU legislation requires PILs to reflect consultations with target patient groups to ensure they are legible, clear and easy to use. This implies that industry will have to start conducting tests. Dr. van der Waarde has performed readability studies on boxes and PILs for industry. A typical study involves showing a leaflet or package to a small group and asking them questions to test understanding. Results and comments are used to modify the material, which is then tested on a larger group. A third group is used to show that any further changes made are an improvement. Dr. van der Waarde is, however, skeptical about the legal requirements and says that many regulatory authorities do not have the resources to handle packaging information properly. “They do not look at the use of packaging in a practical context. They only see one box at a time and not several together as pharmacists would do,” he said.

The RCA innovation exhibition this year revealed designs for a number of innovative objects. “The popper,” made by Hugo Glover, aims to help arthritis sufferers remove tablets from blister packs, and “pluspoint,” created by James Cobb, is an adrenaline auto-injector that aims to overcome the fact that many patients do not carry their auto-injectors due to their prohibitive size. The aim of good design, according Roger Coleman, professor of inclusive design at the RCA, is to try to make things more user-friendly as well as safer. Surely, in a patient-centered health system, that can only be a good thing. “Information design for patient safety” is not intended to be mandatory. Rather, its purpose is to create a basic design standard and to stimulate innovation. The challenge for the pharmaceutical industry, as a whole, is to adopt such a standard.




This reading practice simulates the third section of the IELTS General Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage(s) and answer questions 29-40.
Questions 29-33
Look at the following Statements (Questions 29-33) and The list of people or organization below.

Match each statement with the correct person or organization A-D

Write the correct number A-F in boxes Questions 29-33 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.
The list of people or organization
  1. Richard Mawle
  2. The Children Accident Prevention Trust
  3. Thea Swayne
  4. Karel van der Waarde
  5. Roger Coleman
  6. Hugo Glover

29. Explains that the majority of child poisonings were due to the misapplication of medication

30. Is disparaging about the layout and ordering of important product information

31. Argues that packaging should be made to overcome difficult situations in which it may be used

32. Conducted research on how easy it is to read information on leaflets and packaging

33. Refers to serious medical errors arising due to poor labelling

Questions 34-36
Choose three letters A-F.

Write your answers in boxes 34-36 on your answer sheet.

Which three statements are correct regarding designs for over the counter medicines?
  1. commissioned by design agencies
  2. generic company designs
  3. tested on consumer groups
  4. attractiveness and ability to tell them apart are significant
  5. are created by an in-house team
  6. not much time spent on these designs

34

35

36

Questions 37-40
Complete the summary below.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in 37-40 on your answer sheet.

EU rules expect PILS to be easily read and simple to use. Therefore, pharmaceutical companies will need to begin to ensure that packaging is intelligible and simple to use. Results from this research will be used to change packaging designs and the materials used. When testing a new design, a group is usually shown the material to check whether it is easily understood. Changes are made using the results of this and finally, another group is consulted to ensure that there has been an , although this has been criticized as being done out of context. At a trade exhibition designs for several whose purpose is to help users, were previewed. Robert Coleman believes that design should be based on ease of use and not be just be , saying instead that it should be used to create a basic standard and provide new ideas.






Answer Sheet
1
N/A
2
N/A
3
N/A
4
N/A
5
N/A
6
N/A
7
N/A
8
N/A
9
N/A
10
N/A
11
N/A
12
N/A
13
N/A
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
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40


Reading Passage Vocabulary
Improving Patient Safety


Within the world of pharmaceuticals, there are some significant issues within their design. These include drug packaging and patient information leaflets (PILS). Throughout the past several years, pharmacists have sent letters to medical journals criticizing the packaging designs as, “accidents waiting to happen.” In the pharmaceutical industry, packaging is designed by in-house teams or by design agencies. Meanwhile, over-the-counter medicine designs, which emphasize package attractiveness and recognizability, are usually created by hired agencies. After preparing a summary, marketing teams and designers will present several designs for companies to choose from, and finally, a select few will be tested on consumer groups. On the other hand, materials for prescription medicines are usually designed in-house, and sometimes this can be as simple as adding a logo or color to the design. Afterwards, design engineers will decide how to produce the selected materials. 

Thea Swayne, who authored “Information Design for Patient Safety,” followed the process of medicine from manufacturing, and distribution, to pharmacies and hospitals, and finally to the lives of patients who use them. Her recently published book examines many design issues with today's packaging. For example, she finds that lookalikes and soundalikes, small type sizes and glares on blister foils can be problematic. Instances when these seemingly small issues could present larger ones might be a parent providing cough medicine to their child late at night, or a busy pharmacist needing to quickly decide on one box of medicine out of a huge number. It is argued that packaging should be designed for moments such as these. “Manufacturers are not aware of the complex situations into which products go. As designers, we are interested in not what is supposed to happen in [hospital] wards, but what happens in the real world,” Ms. Swayne commented. If a person's vein receives an injection intrathecally rather than to the spine is a prototypical example of the ways which badly designed packaging may be problematic, or even dangerous. Upon investigation, it was found that poor typescript was a contributing factor to these kinds of tragedies.

Design improvement can also be applied to increase safety for children taking medications. Seven out of ten children who are hospitalized for potential poisoning were reported to have taken some kind of medicine, according to the Child Accident Prevention Trust. Despite the fact that child-resistant caps or closures do lower the instances of problems, none are completely child-proof. These closures are defined as being something that less than 15 percent of children between the ages of 42 and 51 months would be able to access in under five minutes. Richard Mawle, a freelance product designer claims that there is still more that could be done to prevent children from getting into medicine containers. “Many child-resistant packs are based on strength. They do not necessarily prevent a child from access, but may prevent people with a disability.” He went on, telling The Journal, “The legal requirements are there for a good reason, but they are not good enough in terms of the users.” He continued by saying, “Older people, especially those with arthritis, may have the same level of strength as a child.” Mawle seems to believe that updated designs relying on developed cognitive skills (eg. using a three-step process to open a container) or based on the physical size of hands could be potential improvements.

Mawle, working alongside GlaxoSmithKline on a project to improve compliance through design, applied his expertise and knowledge to packaging and PILs. Regarding this, he stated, “There can be an awful lot of junk at the beginning of PILs. For example, why are company details listed towards the beginning of a leaflet when what might be more important for the patient is that the medicine should not be taken with alcohol?”

Lookalike boxes are possible sources of selection mistakes. Therefore, one way to fix this using common-sense could be utilization of colors to indicate differences in doses. On the other hand, Ms. Swayne attests that differentiation by color should always be used cautiously. In these cases, color contrasts are best used when they are in strong contrast. However, it seems that assigning a particular color to mark a medicine's strength (color coding) is risky, as this could distract a user from taking the time to read text on packaging. 

There exists some controversy surrounding this issue, and there are even debates over packaging design. For instance, one might argue that if every package's coloring is white with black text, users would then be forced into reading each one with care. In this case, however, drug packaging design trials are not common, and instead usually focus on the readability and comprehensibility of road traffic signs or visual display units. Even though there are a few designers who will consider results from studies such as these, it is difficult to prove that a specific aspect benefits packaging legibility. In one example of this, consider that EU legislation now requires packaging to feature names of medicine in Braille. Meanwhile, according to a design consultant to the pharmaceutical industry, Karel van der Waarde, “it is not known how much visually impaired patients will benefit, nor how much the reading of patients without visual impairments will be impaired.”

More evidence might, however, soon be available. EU legislation requires PILs to reflect consultations with target patient groups to ensure they are legible, clear and easy to use. This implies that industry will have to start conducting tests. Dr. van der Waarde has performed readability studies on boxes and PILs for industry. A typical study involves showing a leaflet or package to a small group and asking them questions to test understanding. Results and comments are used to modify the material, which is then tested on a larger group. A third group is used to show that any further changes made are an improvement. Dr. van der Waarde is, however, skeptical about the legal requirements and says that many regulatory authorities do not have the resources to handle packaging information properly. “They do not look at the use of packaging in a practical context. They only see one box at a time and not several together as pharmacists would do,” he said.

The RCA innovation exhibition this year revealed designs for a number of innovative objects. “The popper,” made by Hugo Glover, aims to help arthritis sufferers remove tablets from blister packs, and “pluspoint,” created by James Cobb, is an adrenaline auto-injector that aims to overcome the fact that many patients do not carry their auto-injectors due to their prohibitive size. The aim of good design, according Roger Coleman, professor of inclusive design at the RCA, is to try to make things more user-friendly as well as safer. Surely, in a patient-centered health system, that can only be a good thing. “Information design for patient safety” is not intended to be mandatory. Rather, its purpose is to create a basic design standard and to stimulate innovation. The challenge for the pharmaceutical industry, as a whole, is to adopt such a standard.

 
IELTS General 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.

 
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