Useful Vocabulary: Collocations in writing 2

Encouraged by response to our previous post on Collocations we are introducing new sets of collocations this week. These will definitely help you improve vocabulary

A collocation is a sequence of words or terms that co-occur more often than would be expected by chance. Instead of going through technicality we are introducing few workable set of words which can be definitely used in Business English, GRE, TOEFL and IELTS.

  1. Workable solution

Usage: to describe a feasible fixture/ solution for the task at hand

Example: “As far as pollution is concerned, reducing carbon emission is the only workable solution.”

  1. Fruitful results

Usage: results which are positive and intended

Example: Our efforts in the case of the celebrity have borne the fruitful results as the court has denied the bail to her.

  1. Unexpected results/outcomes/consequences

Usage: results which may be negative or positive but not intended for sure

Example: This line of medical treatment is not on expected timeline, we are observing unexpected consequences of the medicines.

  1. Adverse effect

Usage: to denote effects which are unfavorable or antagonistic results

Example: This medicine is good for treating high blood pressure, but can also have some adverse effects, such as light-headedness.

  1. Unpardonable offense

Usage: to convey the offense that is very serious and cannot be forgiven

Example: Domestic violence against women must be treated as unpardonable offense, if we wish to see gender equality in India.

  1. Punishable act

Usage: actions which are worth punishment and should not be shown mercy

Example: The latest news about an Indian politician shook him. He said, “How could he not be arrested for punishable act?”

  1. Devastating effects/impact/consequence

Usage: to denote the highest form of destruction as result of the particular action

Example: Lack of mapping in India had a devastating impact on rescue operations during tsunami.

  1. Invaluable contribution

Usage: to imply contribution that is of immense value

Example: Mahatma Gandhi had invaluable contribution to India’s Freedom struggle

  1. Unchallenging faith

Usage: to ascertain the faith that cannot be challenged

Example: Have unchallenging faith on my methods, in order to crack GRE comfortably.

  1. Unprecedented growth

Usage: to express the astonishing growth that was unseen or unexpected

Example: Because of foreign investments, India has witnessed unprecedented growth in her cities.

  1. Undesirable results/consequences/effects

Usage: results which were not desired or not wished for (normally negative)

Example: Unprecedented growth in Indian cities has brought in undesirable effects such as traffic jams.

  1. Enviable growth

Usage: to denote that the growth rate or amount, so healthy that some may envy the progress

Example: Mr. Grover’s new BMW car was testimony to his enviable growth.

  1. Multifaceted career

Usage: career which is rich with multiple skills and achievements

Example: My father always insisted on having multifaceted career so that, I can have bright future.

  1. Ruthless crimes

Usage: A crime which was committed without worrying about the pain inflected or compassion

Example: She could feel shivers through her spine as she was reading about the ruthless crime.

  1. Cold-blooded murder

Usage: Murder or act of killing someone without a tinge of regret or any emotions

Example: While writing his new novel, author wanted describe cold-blooded murder in most elaborative fashion.

  1. Unending options

Usage: Multiple options that may seem without any end

Example: Unending options on telephone call just for ordering Pizza was irritating for her, so she chose to hang up and went to the restaurant.

  1. Thoughtless acts

Usage: Actions that were without any consideration of consequences

Example: As a teenager, she did not understand why her parents question her every action and judge it to be a thoughtless act.

  1. Burgeoning price/demand

Usage: Prices or demands which are increasing rapidly

Example: He knew, to match with kid’s burgeoning demands, he needs to ask for a raise in his salary.


Many students are confused, if they should appear for IELTS or TOEFL when they are planning to study abroad. We decided to look into the comparison of the two tests and discuss criteria for deciding which is appropriate for them individually. This also serves as frequently asked questions (FAQs) for the candidates who wish to appear for the exam.

Full nameInternational English Language Test SystemTest of English as a Foreign Language
Who conducts them?British Council,

IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment

Educational Testing Services (ETS), USA
What is the syllabus?No, there is no syllabus. It is English Proficiency test.No, there is no syllabus. It is English Proficiency test.
What is the format?There are two versions

·         IELTS Academic

·         IELTS General

Both have 4 Sections

·         Listening

·         Speaking

·         Reading

·         Writing

4 Sections

·         Listening

·         Speaking

·         Reading

·         Writing

How is the exam scored?Each section is scored on the scale of 0 to 9. Final score is average of the four sections.Each section is scored on the scale of 0 to 30. Final score is addition of all four.
Is it paper based or computer based?Paper basedComputer based
What is the eligibility to appear for the exam?No restrictions as such, but need to understand other conditions where candidate wishes to apply with these scoresNo restrictions as such, but need to understand other conditions where candidate wishes to apply with these scores
What courses can I pursue after appearing for the exam?Candidate can apply to all courses which recognize these exams.Candidate can apply to all courses which recognize these exams.
What documents must I carry on the exam day?Valid PassportValid Passport
How many educational institutions in USA accept this score?Approximately 4500Approximately 5850
How many educational institutions in Australia accept this score?Approximately 880Approximately 160
How many educational institutions in UK accept this score?Approximately 330Approximately 470
How many educational institutions in Germany accept this score?Approximately 200Approximately 250

Statistics in the table is verified on 15th February 2016. Career Care advises students to cross-check the data on respective websites before taking final decision.

Useful Vocabulary: Collocations in writing

A collocation is a sequence of words or terms that co-occur more often than would be expected by chance. Instead of going through technicality we are introducing few workable set of words which can be definitely used in Business English, GRE, TOEFL and IELTS.


  1. have a drink

Usage: offer a drink (for free off course)

Example: “Let’s have drinks and try to see through our problems.”

  1. have a problem

Usage: use this collocation to introduce the problem

Example: “Do you have a problem with that?”; “Just let me know if you have any problem”; “Sir, I am having a problem with office timing”


  1. do business

Usage: use this collocation to imply someone owns a particular business

Example: “We do business in textiles.”, “What business do you do?”

  1. do the shopping

Usage: use this collocation to describe the process / habbit of shopping

Example: “He does his shopping only at big malls as he is brand conscious.”


  1. make money

Usage: gain

Example: “You must enter new markets now to make money.” “Making money now a days is not matter of hard work.”

  1. Make progress

Usage: to move forward from current state in business or other affairs

Example: “Your child is making significant progress.” “Our project is not making progress, in spite of recent additions to the team.”

  1. Make an effort

Usage: Attempt

Example: “Make It doesn’t matter to me one way or another, but I wish you would at least make an effort at seeing his side of it.”


  1. Take a chance

Usage: try luck at

Example: “It is very obvious that Government may fail in this project, but at least they must take a chance. Who knows, they may succeed?”

  1. Take a look

Usage: to look with attention

Example: “I would be fortunate, if you take a look at my new blog.”, “Did you take look at yourself, before making such a bold statement?”


  1. Incredible performance/tale/wealth/talent etc.

Usage: used to describe something, which is beyond expectations

Example: “Our company has, once again, delivered incredible performance.”, “In spite of incredible talent, India is lacking innovation.”, “For incredible performance in GRE, you must work on your vocabulary.”

  1. Stringent action/steps/guidelines/measures/punishment etc.

Usage: used to state actions/steps…., which are strict and must be followed without doubt

Example: “India must take stringent actions against countries sponsoring terrorism.”, “To score better in IELTS, one must follow stringent guidelines.”

  1. Unwanted consequences

Usage: used to describe results which are not expected or considered

Example: “Fair competition and open market are greatest outcomes of Capitalism but empowerment of wealthy is unwanted consequence.”

  1. Dire consequences

Usage: used to describe which are not only unexpected but ghastly and detrimental

Example: “If you do not comply with the tyrant King, your actions may lead to dire consequence”

  1. Inevitable consequence

Usage: used to describe results which are obvious and follow naturally

Example: “Inevitable consequence of ignoring basic Mathematical formulae is low scores in Quantitative section on you GRE.”

  1. Utter failure

Usage: used to describe results/attempts which end up in absolute failure even without any partial positive outcome

Example: “Attempting speaking section of TOEFL without even practicing home ends up in utter failure.”

  1. Sheer ignorance

Usage: used to describe unqualified or complete lack of knowledge

Example: “John was surprised by the format of speaking section on TOEFL. He blamed his sheer ignorance on tutor.”

  1. Grave negligence

Usage: used to describe apathy/ inattention towards something

Example: “The committee remarked his grave negligence, and attributed the ghastly accident to his attitude.”

  1. Adequate resources

Usage: used to describe resources at disposal to solve an issue is good enough

Example: “If you want to perform better on GRE, senior’s notes are not adequate resources.”

  1. Appropriate action/solution

Usage: used to describe suitable action/ solution

Example: “Owing to recent incidence in India, Prime Minister must take appropriate actions.”

  1. Workable solution

Usage: used to describe a feasible fixture/ solution for the task at hand

Example: “As far as pollution is concerned, reducing carbon emission is the only workable solution.”

Keep visiting us for more such collocations. Your suggestions are more than useful for us.

Best Practices in Business Writing

Our last blog, “Organization in Writing” was very well received. Thanks for your responses. In this blog we hope to explain few things about the writing process itself.

Writing process consists of four main stages as follows

  1. Data collection
  2. Pre-writing
  3. Writing
  4. Editing

Data collection

In this age of Information, data is single most valued commodity. We are always exposed to information. However, collecting, storing and using right information at appropriate stages is the key to effective writing. In this stage, you focus entirely on data collection, which you may find useful later. Hence, you are constantly in this stage, keeping your eyes and ears open for information on interesting topics. Following can be very effective sources:

  1. Books
  2. News
  3. Blogs
  4. Social Media
  5. Radio
  6. Discussions/ Meetings
  7. Interviews


Pre-writing stage comes as and when you decide to pen down your thoughts on paper. It starts with brainstorming on the topic. Brainstorming is a quick way to generate a lot of ideas on a subject. The purpose is to make a list of as many ideas as possible without worrying about how you will use them. Your brainstorming diagram may include words, phrases, sentences or even questions.

To brainstorm, follow these steps:

  1. Begin by writing a topic in a rectangular box.
  2. Write down as many ideas about the topic as you can in 5 minutes.
  3. Add more items to your list by answering the questions what, how, when, where, why and who.
  4. Group similar ideas.
  5. Understand relations like cause-effect, consequences, lists, examples, advantages / disadvantages etc. between the ideas and mark them.
  6. Think of relevant examples especially if you are writing an essay.
  7. Check for relevancy with audience, subject boundaries and occasion.

bUSINESS WritngAbove image shows brainstorming diagram.


Outcome of previous activity acts as guideline at this stage. From childhood, an idea of havinga great start to the essay is imbibed in your mind. Let us tell you good news; it is alright to have an average start. Focus on the writing all considered points first. During editing stage you may revise your introduction. We will discuss “Parts of writing” in next week.

Write relentlessly without stopping. Frequent checking and stopping in between for corrections, breaks the flow. Also, if you stop in between, your mind might be diverted to related issues. You lose focus, which in turn results in loss of concentration. Repeated interruptions make you blind to your own mistakes, which lead to erroneous writing and ultimately frustration.

While writing, guidelines given in our previous blog “Organization in writing” can be very useful. You may also choose to use following guidelines,

  1. Start writing relentlessly.
  2. Do not waste time correcting yourself at this stage. You have next stage to correct yourself.
  3. Remember to use following orders while writing to sound more logical
  4. Order of Organization by Grouping
  5. Organization by Time
  6. Organization by Order of Importance
  7. Organization by Space


At the end of previous stage you have yourself, few ideas jotted down on your computer screen. Now, start proof-reading your written piece.

  1. While reading, look for logical sense. Ask yourself,
    1. Did I cover all points?
    2. Did I write them in logical fashion?
    3. Did I use appropriate order?
  2. Next, look for clarity of concepts. Many people like to believe that the more complex they write, better they sound. Please make sure one sentence is used for one idea. Don’t write sentences having multiple ideas. They only confuse your readers.
  3. Once this part is taken care of, we advise you to look for grammatical mistakes and correct them. Check for consistency of tenses, dates, persons and subject-verb confirmation.

We hope this blog helps to organize your writing better. These tips are valid for Business Writing, GRE, IELTS and TOEFL. You may visit us here, to know more about Business English course.

Organization in Writing

Writing is a type of communication, usually with standard structure and style. It addresses the needs of audiences and has prose and lists for a particular area that concerns business. Writing is very important in all phases of one’s life, as it creates an image of writer in the reader’s mind. A person with excellent writing skills unknowingly earns respect of his peers and looked upon as a sincere employee by the seniors. Now many may complain that writing is a tedious task. Yes writing is difficult, but good news is that it can be learnt and practiced.

Through series of blogs, we are going to take a short course in written communication.

One of the most important parts of writing is organization of the ideas. Proper organization of the ideas help, people paint a mental picture of written communication. It helps in understanding and eventually evaluating an idea. Ideas can be organized based on many criteria. Following are few important ones

  1. Organization by Grouping
  2. Organization by Time
  3. Organization by Order of Importance
  4. Organization by Space

Organization by Grouping

Ideas in writing can be organized by grouping them in relevant groups. Such grouping helps reader paint a mental picture of what is being described about. Clearer the list of groups, better is the mental picture. For instance, while describing countries, reader would be disturbed to see any cities mentioned in same line. To explain the point further, look at following paragraph.

For example

It is interesting to visit foreign countries. You can meet new people. You can eat different kinds of food. It is expensive. You can see the way other people live.

In the above paragraph, all ideas are relevant with main idea, ‘It is interesting to visit foreign countries’ except the idea that ‘It is expensive’ which in fact is a counterpoint of the main idea.

Organization by Time

Time sequence or chronology explains an important role in writing or reporting events. It gives a factual account of incidents in a way which can be easily understood and examined.

For example

I had a terrible Sunday. First I woke up an hour late because my alarm clock in mobile failed as mobile was discharged. Then, I was in such a hurry that I burned my hand when I was making breakfast. After breakfast, I rushed for the Soccer practice. I really feel that everyone should play soccer in life. As I reached the bus stop, I realized, I had forgotten my wallet at my desk. I literally sprinted back home and collected the wallet. I had to wait for 20 minutes as bus frequency on Sunday is comparatively rare. By the time I reached the ground, my friends were almost half way through the practice. My coach was angry. After practice, on my way back, I first went to supermarket to buy groceries and then to laundry to pick up my clothes.

As can be seen while, reading above paragraph, the sentence, ‘I really feel that everyone should play soccer in life’ distracts the attention. Other sentences build a nice account of unfortunate Sunday of the author.

Signal Words










Organization by order of importance

It is very important to recognize order of importance while discussing events, logical ideas, consequence, lists etc. This arrangement allows reader to rate the important points at start.

For example

There are many ways to learn a new language. The best way is to talk with native speakers. One way is to spend a lot of time watching television and listening to the radio. Another way is to take classes at a language school or university.

As can be seen, if ways of learning languages are arranged in order of importance, it is very easy to recognize best practices to learn a new language.

Signal Words

First of all


For one thing

The next + noun


In addition

Another + noun


Most important + noun

Organization by Space

When you describe space, you use space order to explain where things are located. The easiest way to do this is to choose starting point. Then you describe where things are located with respect to previously described thing.

For example

My bedroom is a special place. Like most rooms, it is a rectangle. When you walk in the door, the first thing you notice is the large window on the back wall. It has a beautiful view of the garden.

Signal Words



In front of

In corner


Next to

Both sides

Left hand


We hope this blog helps to organize your writing better. These tips are valid for Business Writing, GRE, IELTS and TOEFL. You may visit us here, to know more about Business English course.

Note Taking for TOEFL

Note taking is one of the most important skills to crack TOEFL. This technique if relearned well can fetch you really good scores especially in Reading and Listening section. We mentioned relearn because note taking technique that you might have learned in school days might not be good enough. Purpose of taking notes in school days was to either jot down important points which you can remember later in order to recreate your answers or to condense a chapter. In TOEFL, you are not only supposed to meet before-mentioned purpose but also apply it aptly in producing answers of the questions in limited time.

Have a purpose

Do not take notes just for the sake taking it. Think of the purpose of it. In case of Listening section, if you are supposed to solve Multiple Choice Questions after listening to the recording, take notes accordingly. You need to jot down ideas explained in few keywords, not in descriptive format. This will save time and also help you do justice to all points. In case you need to speak after listening to particular piece of audio, take notes in such a way that you can go back to each point and add few extra points that you -would like to add. This will save your ample of time allotted to prepare to speak.

Pay attention to tone or actions

This question is fairly common on TOEFL. After reading a passage or listening to the audio you might be asked to select tone or follow up action after conversation. While reading or listening try to judge mood of author or speaker and jot it down after the notes taking session.

Create a format

After sufficient amount of practice you will be able to generate you own format which will help you in variety of questions. You may have two columns while taking notes. In one of the columns you would like to take notes while to other column you might like to add your own ideas.

Introduction to Listening skills in TOEFL

Listening and grasping the information refer to the primary, basic or the principal skills. The Listening section measures your ability to understand the English spoken in academic settings in the USA. For the Listening task you are given 40-60 minutes.
The Listening section in TOEFL contains 6-9 listening tasks that include:

  • A minimum of 2 questions between two people – such as two students or a student and a professor, a librarian, in store, restaurant etc;
  • A minimum of 2 lectures;
  • A minimum of 2 lectures, with student comments and questions interspersed;
  • Each task is followed by questions.


For the listening task you will need headphones. If you need, you can adjust the volume during the test. You may also take any notes that will help you to answer the questions. A sheet with your notes will be destroyed after you pass exam.
It is not permitted to go back to previous questions. So you should answer each question in proper order. A question should be answered before you can go on to the next question.

Listening questions
There are three different categories in TOEFL test:

  • Basic comprehension questions;
  • Pragmatic understanding questions;
  • Connecting information question.

There are several different types of questions:

  • grasping the main idea;
  • determining the purpose;
  • catching details;
  • determining attitude;
  • understanding conclusion;
  • making implications;
  • connecting content.

Listening topics
Topics for listening can cover a wide range of subjects. There are four major categories: arts, life science, physical science, and social science.
Arts lectures include architecture, music, literature, photography, urban planning, crafts, and industrial design.
Life science includes public health, animal communication, conservation biochemistry, medicine, bacteria, nutrition, and animal behavior.
Physical science includes climate, geography, landforms, environment, pollution, astronomy, optics, physics, technology, mathematics, and computer science
Social science lectures include anthropology, linguistics, education, history, business, psychology, and mass communication.

Listening strategies
To improve your listening skills, get used to the radio and television news, interviews, and discussions. Try to grasp the main idea, catch some new words and then look them up and remember. Listen to various academic talks, lectures, and educational documentaries.
Begin a systematic vocabulary improvement program to expand your vocabulary. Use the subject books, tapes and CDs.

Strategies for TOEFL Reading Section

In order to successfully crack reading section of TOEFL, all you need to do is practise, practise and more practise. In order to improve your reading skills, try reading good English Newspapers or magazines or blogs. In TOEFL you would find passages classified into (a) Exposition, (b) Argumentation and (c) Historical and organised into (a) comparison, (b) classification, (c) cause/effect and (d) problem/ solution. Try to get hold of articles on similar lines to read. Before starting on the reading sessions, you must understand following types of readings. Practising each of them will definitely help you strategise.


Skimming is a process of extracting gist of the information through a passage with objective in mind. While doing so, you just roll your eyes over the article keeping in mind what are you looking for. When you find those ‘keywords’, you slow down to understand what is exactly written in the context and move on. It is very useful when you have a long passage to deal with.
Examples of Skimming:

  • The Newspaper (quickly to get the general news of the day)
  • Magazines (quickly to discover which articles you would like to read in more detail)
  • Business and Travel Brochures (quickly to get informed)

Extensive reading

In extensive reading main objective is to have general understanding of a subject. Mastering this method is really handy as you become familiar not only with overall topics but organization of overall text. During this reading you need not worry even if you don’t understand a particular word. You will still be able to manage understanding the sentence based on context, most of the times.
Examples of Extensive Reading:

  • The latest marketing strategy book
  • A novel
  • Magazine articles

Intensive reading

Main objective is of intensive reading is cover every aspect of the information right from main idea of the passage, its classification, organization, context of using particular words, interpretation and detailed points which might critical information. This is use especially when you are reading a short text.
Examples of Intensive Reading:

  • An insurance claim
  • A contract.

Form your own strategy:

Generally, our recommendation is to have two strategies in reading section. First strategy is for long passages while the second is for shorter passages.

Strategy for long passages

Use extensive reading to find out general idea of the topic. Try to categorise the topic and find organization of the passage. You may also practise noting short summary of the topic. Now you are fairly aware of the locations of key ideas that shape the whole passage. Now, turn towards questions. After reading each question you can go back to location in passage where you hope to find the answer. This strategy is useful for long passages since you won’t be able to recall all answers even if you do intensive reading.

Strategy for short passages

There are fewer number of questions based on these passages and hence it would be wise to read it carefully only once. Most of the times, you would be able to retain all your answers after intensive reading. You save some time by reading the passage only once.

I hope this helps. In case of any difficulties, please leave your question below. We will answer those in comments. You can also join our classroom teaching by clicking here.

Grammar in TOEFL

Grammar in TOEFL

Although ETS doesn’t test you on grammar, your grammar will be obvious in your speech and writing. Using a wide range of different grammatical constructions enriches your language.

According to ETS, a student should “demonstrate effective use of grammar” and “exhibit a high degree of automaticity, with good control of basic and complex structures.”

In each of the six tasks in the speaking section, you have to express your ideas on a given topic for one minute. Though time is short, you rather be able to speak confidently, expressing your ideas clearly and without obvious grammatical errors. Writing your essay you’ll have another chance to demonstrate your grammar abilities. This section is one which “displays consistent facility in the use of the language, demonstrating comfort with various syntaxes, appropriate word choice and idioms, though it may have minor lexical or grammatical errors.”

Studying Grammar

  1. At first test your grammar through mock tests to define what you know well and what you should review or learn.
  2. Having identified a difficult area of grammar, select reliable materials (books, CDs etc.) to study. Better is from EST TOEFL Official Guide.
  3. Firstly, read and understand the rules for the grammatical structure you’ve chosen to learn. Make a brief note of the rules.
  4. Complete one of the exercises. Look into the Answer Key. Check your answers; analyze mistakes and points you couldn’t understand before.
  5. Write down any sentences that clearly demonstrate the use of the grammatical structure. Try to understand and remember them.
  6. Having understood how the grammatical structure is used, refer to a book, a magazine or a newspaper and find examples of the structure in a real piece of writing.
  7. Revise the grammatical structure frequently for 1-2 weeks. Try to use it correctly while speaking and writing.

10 Tips to Improve Your TOEFL Essays

Through experience we have found that there are many ways to improve your TOEFL writing by just applying common sense. You don’t need studying at all.

  1. Precise answer to the question

    It is found that students write irrelevant matter. For instance, other’s opinions are written when asked for student’s opinion. Your grammar may be perfect and your ideas may be great. Even so, if you don’t answer the TOEFL question, none of that matters. So, concentrate on answering the question well first.

  2. Simplify sentences

    Many people are found overly eager to use recently mugged up GRE words. Good writers express complex ideas in a very simple way. If you are able to do this, you will demonstrate strong writing skills. More importantly, short and simple sentences means fewer grammatical mistakes.

  3. Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end

    Concentrate on formal essay structure rather than pulling of a radical writing strategy. Your essay should have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. This structure helps organize your thoughts and easier to organize them in short time.

  4. Use topic sentences and narrate it

    A topic sentence is the first sentence of each paragraph in the essay’s body. Narrate it in your own words. It gives the evaluator two things: 1) a summary of what will be in the paragraph, and 2) an impression that the student has understood the topic well.

  5. Thesis statement

    The thesis statement is last sentence in the first paragraph (the introduction). It is the most important statement of your essay. It tells the reader exactly what your opinion is. I will help you bolster your structure.

  6. Do not begin with conjunction

    conjunctions are used to connect sentences-we almost never begin a sentence with one. The, but, and because are all conjunctions.

  7. Learn how to use the comma

    Using the comma correctly will give your writing its intended meaning. Learn the rules for using them in English as evaluator shall read the same sentence you wanted write.

  8. Be active

    In traditional writings passive voice is recommended. Still, we would advice to use active voice, as it is much stronger than the passive voice. Use the active voice as much as possible.

  9. Precise words and phrases

    Precise words and phrases make your writing easier to understand. They connect ideas and present them to the reader in a logical order. For instance: First of all…, In addition…, More importantly…, In closing…, In conclusion….

  10. Make good use of conditionals

    Ii was found that many students find it difficult to use conditionals. Learning the conditionals important than learning tenses. Conditionals are useful for expressing opinions and reasons. The two things you must do in the TOEFL independent writing tasks.

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