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This is an IELTS writing task 2 sample answer essay from the new Cambridge IELTS 17 book of past test papers on the topic of health problems and alternative medicines and treatments.

You can read essays and guides for the other IELTS Cambridge books, including Cambridge 17, here:

The Complete Guide to IELTS Cambridge 17

The Complete Guide to IELTS Cambridge 16

The Complete Guide to IELTS Cambridge 15

The Complete Guide to IELTS Cambridge 14

The Complete Guide to IELTS Cambridge 13

Dave

IELTS Cambridge 17 Essay: Health Problems

Nowadays, an increasing number of people with health problems are using alternative medicines and treatments instead of visiting their normal doctor.

Do you think this is a positive or negative development?

In recent years, a growing number of unwell individuals have begun to adopt the use of alternative medicines and treatments. In my opinion, though these can sometimes be effective, this trend is negative overall due to the superiority of modern medicine.

Those who support alternative remedies argue there is historical evidence in favor of their effectiveness. A pertinent example of this would be the popularity of traditional Chinese medicine in Asia. Many of their medicines and treatments date back hundreds or even thousands of years. Over that time, they have been tested and their effect verified in some cases. Contemporary health researchers are often able to later identify the scientific rationale but it is possible there are remedies in use today that we still do not understand. This ignorance should not serve as a justification to question their overall importance.

However, the vast majority of viable medical treatment is modern. Scientists now understand more rigorously the underlying structures of cells, viruses, bacteria, cancers, and various other maladies. This has allowed for the creation of undeniably effective procedures such as surgery and the discovery of crucial medicines like penicillin. There is no doubt as to why these medicines work and therefore in the future they will only become more refined and safe. In contrast, traditional medicine may be effective for unknown reasons but its applicability is limited and it will not advance overtime.

In conclusion, with few exceptions, traditional medicine is a better alternative to less verifiable treatments and pharmaceuticals. Individuals can attempt to use them but should rely on their usual doctors.

Analysis

1. In recent years, a growing number of unwell individuals have begun to adopt the use of alternative medicines and treatments. 2. In my opinion, though these can sometimes be effective, this trend is negative overall due to the superiority of modern medicine.

  1. Paraphrase the overall essay topic.
  2. Write a clear opinion. Read more about introductions here.

1. Those who support alternative remedies argue there is historical evidence in favor of their effectiveness. 2. A pertinent example of this would be the popularity of traditional Chinese medicine in Asia. 3. Many of their medicines and treatments date back hundreds or even thousands of years. 4. Over that time, they have been tested and their effect verified in some cases. 5. Contemporary health researchers are often able to later identify the scientific rationale but it is possible there are remedies in use today that we still do not understand. 6. This ignorance should not serve as a justification to question their overall importance.

  1. Write a topic sentence with a clear main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your main idea.
  3. Develop it with specific or hypothetical examples.
  4. Keep developing it fully.
  5. Short sentences can make your writing clearer.
  6. Use complex and simple sentences.

1. However, the vast majority of viable medical treatment is modern. 2. Scientists now understand more rigorously the underlying structures of cells, viruses, bacteria, cancers, and various other maladies. 3. This has allowed for the creation of undeniably effective procedures such as surgery and the discovery of crucial medicines like penicillin. 4. There is no doubt as to why these medicines work and therefore in the future they will only become more refined and safe. 5. In contrast, traditional medicine may be effective for unknown reasons but its applicability is limited and it will not advance overtime.

  1. Write a new topic sentence with a new main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your new main idea.
  3. Include specific details and examples.
  4. Add as much information as you can and make sure it links logically.
  5. Finish the paragraph strong.

1. In conclusion, with few exceptions, traditional medicine is a better alternative to less verifiable treatments and pharmaceuticals. 2. Individuals can attempt to use them but should rely on their usual doctors.

  1. Summarise your main ideas.
  2. Include a final thought. Read more about conclusions here.

Vocabulary

What do the words in bold below mean? Make some notes on paper to aid memory and then check below.

In recent years, a growing number of unwell individuals have begun to adopt the use of alternative medicines and treatments. In my opinion, though these can sometimes be effective, this trend is negative overall due to the superiority of modern medicine.

Those who support alternative remedies argue there is historical evidence in favor of their effectiveness. A pertinent example of this would be the popularity of traditional Chinese medicine in Asia. Many of their medicines and treatments date back hundreds or even thousands of years. Over that time, they have been tested and their effect verified in some cases. Contemporary health researchers are often able to later identify the scientific rationale but it is possible there are remedies in use today that we still do not understand. This ignorance should not serve as a justification to question their overall importance.

However, the vast majority of viable medical treatment is modern. Scientists now understand more rigorously the underlying structures of cells, viruses, bacteria, cancers, and various other maladies. This has allowed for the creation of undeniably effective procedures such as surgery and the discovery of crucial medicines like penicillin. There is no doubt as to why these medicines work and therefore in the future they will only become more refined and safe. In contrast, traditional medicine may be effective for unknown reasons but its applicability is limited and it will not advance overtime.

In conclusion, with few exceptions, traditional medicine is a better alternative to less verifiable treatments and pharmaceuticals. Individuals can attempt to use them but should rely on their usual doctors.

Answers

For extra practice, write an antonym (opposite word) on a piece of paper to help you remember the new vocabulary:

in recent years in the last few decades

growing increasing

unwell sick

begun started to

adopt start using

medicines pills, drugs, etc.

treatments ways to deal with illnesses

though despite

effective works well

trend pattern

negative overall bad in general

due to because of

the superiority of modern medicine how much better new medicine and doctors are

support alternative remedies favor less traditional doctors

argue point out

historical evidence examples from the past

in favor of supporting

effectiveness works well

A pertinent example of this would be a good instance of this is

popularity how common it is

traditional Chinese medicine older treatments from China

date back from a long time ago

Over that time as time passes

tested verified

verified proven true

in some cases sometimes

Contemporary health researchers are doctors today can

later identify after that figure out

scientific rationale good reasons

remedies in use today treatments now

ignorance not knowing about

serve as are the basis for

justification reason for

question doubt

overall importance how valuable they are in general

vast majority most of

viable medical useful treatment

rigorously intensively

underlying structures basic parts

cells fundamental component of life

viruses dangerous spreading diseases

bacteria cause disease

cancers a serious illness

various other maladies different diseases

allowed for made it possible

creation making of

undeniably effective procedures definitely work

surgery operating on someone

discovery finding of

crucial medicines key treatments

penicillin a drug for treating infections

There is no doubt as to it can’t be denied that

therefore thus

refined made better

safe not dangerous

In contrast however

unknown reasons ignorance of why

applicability how much it can be used in other cases

limited contained

advance move forward

with few exceptions not many other instances

better alternative to better way to

less verifiable treatments medicines that can’t be trusted

pharmaceuticals drugs

attempt try

rely on dependent on

usual doctors normal doctors

Pronunciation

Practice saying the vocabulary below and use this tip about Google voice search:

ɪn ˈriːsnt jɪəz
ˈgrəʊɪŋ 
ʌnˈwɛl 
bɪˈgʌn 
əˈdɒpt 
ˈmɛdsɪnz 
ˈtriːtmənts
ðəʊ 
ɪˈfɛktɪv 
trɛnd 
ˈnɛgətɪv ˈəʊvərɔːl 
djuː tuː 
ðə sju(ː)ˌpɪərɪˈɒrɪti ɒv ˈmɒdən ˈmɛdsɪn
səˈpɔːt ɔːlˈtɜːnətɪv ˈrɛmɪdiz 
ˈɑːgjuː 
hɪsˈtɒrɪkəl ˈɛvɪdəns 
ɪn ˈfeɪvər ɒv 
ɪˈfɛktɪvnəs
ə ˈpɜːtɪnənt ɪgˈzɑːmpl ɒv ðɪs wʊd biː 
ˌpɒpjʊˈlærɪti 
trəˈdɪʃənl ˌʧaɪˈniːz ˈmɛdsɪn 
deɪt bæk 
ˈəʊvə ðæt taɪm
ˈtɛstɪd 
ˈvɛrɪfaɪd 
ɪn sʌm ˈkeɪsɪz
kənˈtɛmpərəri hɛlθ rɪˈsɜːʧəz ɑː 
ˈleɪtər aɪˈdɛntɪfaɪ 
ˌsaɪənˈtɪfɪk ˌræʃəˈnɑːl 
ˈrɛmɪdiz ɪn juːz təˈdeɪ 
ˈɪgnərəns 
sɜːv æz 
ˌʤʌstɪfɪˈkeɪʃən 
ˈkwɛsʧən 
ˈəʊvərɔːl ɪmˈpɔːtəns
vɑːst məˈʤɒrɪti 
ˈvaɪəbl ˈmɛdɪkəl 
ˈrɪgərəsli 
ˌʌndəˈlaɪɪŋ ˈstrʌkʧəz 
sɛlz
ˈvaɪərəsɪz
bækˈtɪərɪə
ˈkænsəz,
ˈveərɪəs ˈʌðə ˈmælədiz
əˈlaʊd fɔː 
kri(ː)ˈeɪʃən 
ˌʌndɪˈnaɪəbli ɪˈfɛktɪv prəˈsiːʤəz 
ˈsɜːʤəri 
dɪsˈkʌvəri 
ˈkruːʃəl ˈmɛdsɪnz 
ˌpɛnɪˈsɪlɪn.
ðeər ɪz nəʊ daʊt æz 
ˈðeəfɔː 
rɪˈfaɪnd 
seɪf
ɪn ˈkɒntrɑːst
ʌnˈnəʊn ˈriːznz 
ˌæplɪkəˈbɪlɪti 
ˈlɪmɪtɪd 
ədˈvɑːns 
wɪð fjuː ɪkˈsɛpʃənz
ˈbɛtər ɔːlˈtɜːnətɪv tuː 
lɛs ˈvɛrɪfaɪəbl ˈtriːtmənts 
ˌfɑːməˈsjuːtɪkəlz
əˈtɛmpt 
rɪˈlaɪ ɒn 
ˈjuːʒʊəl ˈdɒktəz

Vocabulary Practice

I recommend getting a pencil and piece of paper because that aids memory. Then write down the missing vocabulary from my sample answer in your notebook:

Nowadays, an increasing number of people with health problems are using alternative medicines and treatments instead of visiting their normal doctor.

Do you think this is a positive or negative development?

I__________________s, a g__________g number of u________l individuals have b______n to a______t the use of alternative m______________s and t_____________s. In my opinion, t______h these can sometimes be e___________e, this t_____d is n____________________l d_________________________________________e.

Those who s______________________________s a________e there is h_______________________e i____________f their e____________s. A____________________________________________e the p__________y of t___________________________e in Asia. Many of their medicines and treatments d________k hundreds or even thousands of years. O_______________e, they have been t______d and their effect v___________d i______________s. C________________________________e often able to l____________y the s________________e but it is possible there are r__________s i_____________y that we still do not understand. This i_________e should not s_________s a j________________n to q___________n their o_____________e.

However, the v________________________f v_______________l treatment is modern. Scientists now understand more r___________y the u_____________________s of c_____s, v_________s, b_________a, c_________s, and v__________________s. This has a________________r the c___________n of u_______________________________s such as s___________y and the d____________y of c_______________________s like p__________n. T_____________________________s to why these medicines work and t____________e in the future they will only become more r____________d and s___e. I______________t, traditional medicine may be effective for u______________________s but its a__________________y is l____________d and it will not a________e overtime.

In conclusion, w____________________s, traditional medicine is a b____________________________o l_______________________________s and p____________________s. Individuals can a___________t to use them but should r_________n their u_______________s.

Listening Practice

Learn more about this topic by watching from YouTube below and practice with these activities:

Reading Practice

Read more about this topic and use these ideas to practice:

https://www.wired.com/2015/04/alternative-medicine-believers-journey-back-science/

Speaking Practice

Practice with the following speaking questions from the real IELTS speaking exam:

Health

  1. How often do people in your country go to the doctor?
  2. Are doctors always trustworthy?
  3. How will hospitals change in the future?
  4. Is traditional medicine an important part of your culture?
  5. What makes a person healthy?

Writing Practice

Practice with the related IELTS essay topics below:

Some people today prefer to get advice for medical problems and do not want to visit a doctor.

Why is this?

Is this a positive or a negative development?


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