IELTS Reading: Using Online Translations for Medical Purposes

This exercise is based on matching paragraph information for IELTS reading. This reading exercise is not difficult and could be classed as medium in level. It’s a useful practice lesson.

Skim read the article and then look through the statements below. Take time to think about the information in the statements and consider possible paraphrases for vocabulary before you attempt to locate information.

Using Web Based Translations in Medical Communication

A)  A complex medical and treatment discussion with patients whose knowledge of the local language is inadequate remains challenging. After treating a child whose parents did not speak English, we resorted to the use of a web based translation tool. We were unsure as to whether Google Translate was accurately translating our complex medical phrases. We aimed to evaluate the accuracy and usefulness of Google Translate in translating common English medical statements.

B)  Ten commonly used medical statements were chosen by author consensus. These were translated via Google Translate to 26 languages. Translations only were sent to native speakers of each language and translated back into English by them. The returning English phrases were compared with the originals and assessed for meaning. Minor grammatical errors were accepted but not if the meaning was altered.

C)  The results showed that of the ten medical phrases translated by Google translate and then translated back into English, 57.7% were correct and 42.3% were wrong. Out of the 26 languages used, Africa languages scored the lowest, followed by Asian languages. Western European languages were the most accurate. However, there were some serious errors discovered. For instance, “Your child is fitting” translated in Swahili to “Your child is dead”. In Polish “your husband has the opportunity to donate his organs” translated to “your husband can donate his tools”. In Mathi “your husband has had a cardiac arrest” translated to “your husband had an imprisoned heart”.

D)  The conclusion drawn is that in today’s world “just google it” is considered to be the answer to everything, but for health related questions this should be treated with caution. Google Translate should not be used for taking consent for surgery, procedures, or research from patients or relatives unless all other avenues to find human translators have been exhausted and the procedure is clinically urgent.

Questions 1-7

In which paragraph (A-D) is the following information found. Letters may be used more than once.

  1. When calculating the results, slight mistakes in language, possibly related to syntax or structure of language, were admitted.
  2. It is believed that most information and help can be found on google.
  3. The aim was to test whether Google Translate could be used reliably for medical communication.
  4. Significant mistakes were found in the translations which were web based.
  5. The research was conducted after a situation in which a patient’s relatives did not speak English.
  6. The translate function is not admissible to get people’s permission for operations.
  7. Accuracy in meaning was essential.


Click below for answers.

  1. B
  2. D
  3. A
  4. C
  5. A
  6. D
  7. B

Adapted and edited from BMJ article by Patil and Davies, December 2014 publication

All reading exercises on have been written by myself to help you prepare for your IELTS test for free.   


Vocab Builder
  • inadequate = lacking / deficient / not enough
  • resort to = turn to  / make use of
  • evaluate = assess / appraise
  • consensus = agreement
  • minor = small / insignificant
  • donate = give
  • cardiac arrest = when the heart stops / ceases to function
  • the conclusion drawn = the conclusion derived
  • other avenues = other possibilities
  • exhausted = finished 




  1. Chinweotito Nwaeze says

    I got them all 7 of them😁

  2. Nakadudu says

    Phew! Got them all correct!

  3. Got them all right, thank u for the exercises Liz !
    I guess the real exam is gonna be much tougher, maybe the questions are alike but the text is gonna be more difficult, is that right ?

    • It will be more difficult if you are taking the Academic test. Go to the BC IELTS website and you’ll find a free practice test which you can do at home. That is a real test and will show you the level. Also get the IELTS Cambridge Test books which contain real tests published by IELTS. You can see a description of them on this page:

  4. Am so grateful Lizzy. I got 7/7. May the Almighty God bless more.

  5. got 2/7 😥😥

  6. Hi Liz,

    Thank you so much for this practice test. I got 7/7.

  7. Abhijith says

    Dear Liz,

    Need some clarifications for the 5th Answer. It is mentioned in the question that the patients relatives cant speak english but it was actually the patients parents who cant speak the language. Is that a trap right?

    • Parents are relatives. Your relatives are your family members and that includes parents and siblings.

  8. I got 6/7
    thank you it is very helpfull

  9. Muhammad Talha says

    I got 7/7. Thank you so much for your prestigious guidance.

  10. Hi Liz, I had 5/7, but I learnt how to pick answers from passages faster

  11. Thanks a lot your teaching is helping me a lot. l got 7/7

  12. got 5/7 thank you liz

  13. Hi Liz,
    I believe I am quite good at paraphrasing, but this is my most challenging part of IELTS and I usually fail most or all. Do you have any tips to improve my skills, please? I am very worried.

  14. Alexander says

    i got 4/7 🙁

  15. I got 6/7

  16. 6/7

  17. Bolade Balogun says

    l got 6/7. thanks

  18. I got 6/7. Thanks liz 🙂

  19. M.Nikitha reddy says

    hey liz i gt only 4 r crct it is sme wt difficult passage little bit confusion to me.

  20. Liz, I’ve got 7/7! 😀 Thank you for the mini tests. It surely helps a lot.

  21. Baint singh says

    i have scored 7/7 within 8 minutes..

  22. I got 6/7

  23. Rajath Anand says

    Can we start a sentence with “It is” or “There are” ?

  24. MOHAMED almahroug says

    I got 6/7 in my first experience with you liz…
    thanks for all this effort

  25. Abeer Fawzi says

    Hi Liz, i got 7/7, thanks for your efforts

  26. Hey Liz can I use yellow highlighter for my exam on question papers ?

  27. Ivan Miguel says

    Hi Liz,

    I was wondering if you could explain me the phrase “There were some serious errors discovered trial.”, specially the grammar composition. Is there an implicit “that”?


  28. It seems to me that number 2 completely contradicts number 6, actually number 6 only represents the idea of paragraph D

    • These questions are not asking you to decide which statement represents the idea of the paragraph. This is not matching headings. You are only asked to locate information – nothing more. You need to look for the information and say where it is found.

  29. mana chhantyal says

    1.B 2.D 3.A 4.c 5.A 6.D 7.c

  30. Nita kalpesh pipalva says

    I am not good in reading ,even every time i do hard practice in reading section then to i can’t get good score in general reading .i request to you ,give me some more guideline ,so with your help i can get good score in reading

  31. Dear Liz !!
    Why number 7 is B?
    Can you show me why number 7 is B ?

  32. Ahmad Zia Atal says

    thanks , I got 6/7

  33. Really nice job Liz !!! Thank you so much…

  34. I m too poor in readin but in this passage I got 7/7 and it is making me feel good.

  35. got 7/7

  36. hi Liz,
    i want to learn all time outside. how can i copy and print all lesson

  37. Hi Liz,

    I chose D for Q7. But when I see the answer, I realized that I misunderstood the question: I thought it was asking if “accuracy is essential” in terms of medical statements. But by paragraph B showed that “accuracy is essential” specifically for this study. Am I right?

    Thank you,


    • You need to note that it is about “accuracy in meaning”. So you need to find something that is about both meaning and precision. It can be found in B “Minor grammatical errors were accepted but not if the meaning was altered.”

  38. Botir Makhmudov says

    Hello Liz. I have had a recent examination in IELTS and did really good job in all sections except reading. I ran out of time due to tying to read each passage and understand the meaning of them. With regards to you experience and accomplishments, i would challenge your technique of finding answers by skimming the passage. Even in this easy exercise of matching the information from paragraphs unless i read and understand each paragraph, i can not respond correctly but if i read each paragraph to comprehend and then find answers then i run out of time. Help me to solve this dilemma. How can i find the answers without reading thoroughly the passage? My strategy is to read each paragraph and then read questions and decide to which passage they belong to or from where the information is coming but this method takes much of my time. Thank you in advance for your answer.

  39. i got 5/7
    thank you , its a useful website

  40. Hi liz,
    Thanks for this blog. i scored 6 out of 7

  41. Hi Liz. Can you explain why answer to Q1 is B and not C? Thanks. Got 6/7. Thanks Liz.

  42. Hi Liz,

    Why is the answer 7 is not A as the paragraph is talking about accuracy?

    Thank you, Liz.

    • Because A mentioned the word accuracy but not about the meaning being essential. Paragraph B contains this sentence “Minor grammatical errors were accepted but not if the meaning was altered.” which means the meaning is essential. Don’t try to match words, match meaning. And look out for traps using the same words but without the full meaning.
      All the best

  43. Hi Liz, I’m from Vietnam.
    I want to give many thanks to you for making this useful blog.
    I’m studying IELTS myself and this helps me a lot, and i’m also praticing these IELTS lessons
    But i’m wondering that compare to some tests in Cambridge IELTS, i found it’s more difficult than your lessons. Is it necessary to practice or just I take your tips and start doing tests in Cambridge IELTS books. Thank you

    • You need to do both tests and practice. Sometimes you can use a practice test for practice only and sometimes you can do it under exam conditions. The lessons on my blog are sometimes easier so that you can develop technique and sometimes the same level as IELTS.
      All the best

  44. Hi Liz,

    I have one question, it may sound stupid. But please help me in understanding the same.

    In Question num : 5 “The research was conducted after a situation in which patients and relatives didnot speak english”

    For this we say paragraph A is correct one.
    But in paragraph A its mentioned as “childs whose parents didnt speak english” . So i got bit confused.

    In paragraph it says about parents but in question it refers to relatives.

    Thank you

    • I agree it is unclear. I’ve altered the question “a patient’s relatives did not speak English”. The word “relative” includes parents.
      All the best

  45. Sharnjeet Singh Jaura says

    Hello Liz,
    I have all of my questions write (7/7). I just faced very minor problems finding the answers, but I want to ask you something. That I think I had spend almost 6-9 minutes in finding the answers. Do you think that it is right time consumed in finding those answers?, and also as you stated that this passage was of medium difficulty level, so do you have any other more difficult passages to practice on?
    I would be really thankful to you. Please also check my writing if you found any mistakes in my writing so please tell me about that.
    Thank you very much for all of the useful lessons you have given.

    • You must judge for yourself your speed by doing a full reading practice test from the BC website. All my reading practice exercises are found in the main reading section of this blog. Sorry, I don’t correct writing.
      All the best

      • Sharnjeet Singh Jaura says

        Ohh, there is no problem if you do not correct writing 🙂 . I am very thankful to you for your help that you have provided me with. Thank you Liz.


  46. Hi Liz! Just a quick question about reading. Is reading and general has the same computation of total score from the raw score like for example i got 25 out of 40 in reading is it the same computation? I have seen in some websites that both has different table computation. Academic gives more score than general or they have same computation? Please waiting for your answer. Thanks!

  47. Hello Liz, plz I have a request can you explain what you written —(–that paraphrase the the vacobulary of the statement before atttempt to locate the information )
    So kind of you if you can explain the question that how could this paraphrasing can be done .

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