How I Scored 9 in IELTS Reading

“How I got Band 9 in IELTS Reading.”
Manal got band score 9 in IELTS reading with band score 8.5 overall.  Learn how she did it …
Below are her tips for a high score in GT reading:
 Getting 9 in IELTS reading
Manal’s Story and Tips for Band 9 in Reading
Oh I couldn’t believe in my wildest dreams that I scored a 9.0 in Reading. Reading was one of my weakest areas. After I gave the test, I had a gut feeling telling me that probably I scored a 9.0 in Reading. I even got to check all my answers in Listening as well as Reading.
 I re-took the General test. The first time I attempted this test was in October – that time I scored an overall band score of 8.0 with L – 8.5, Reading – 7.0, W – 8.0, S – 9.0. I retook the test specifically to improve my Reading score so obviously I relentlessly practiced tests from the General section of Cambridge IELTS books. I was aiming for a minimum of 8.0 in reading.
 ————————————————–
Tips for Getting Band Score 9 in IELTS Reading
Here are some tips and strategies which you could post. Please feel free to make any editions necessary. I like to explain things in detail, otherwise I do not feel satisfied. You can make them more brief and concise.
Tip 1
Effective time management I can’t stress enough about it. One thing which I meticulously practiced when I did the reading tests was to enforce a strict time division for each section of Reading. Even though in the cambridge books, it states to keep a minimum of 20 minutes for each section. I’d suggest to keep 15 minutes OR less in Section 1 and 2 and to rely solely on skimming and scanning (I mastered to finish Section 1 and 2 in less than 15 minutes leaving me with ample time to solve Section 3 questions). Keep 30 minutes or more for Section 3- where you will need to do a little bit more than skimming and scanning. I usually managed to have 5-10 minutes for revision.
Tip 2
Do not bother reading the passages. It’s a waste of time.
 
 First, read the questions and circle the keywords and then try to look for those keywords or a synonym / paraphased text in the passage. For Section 1 and 2  – skimming and scanning will be your best friends. 
 I didn’t even waste time reading Section 3. I just read the text associated with the questions. 
 
Tip 3
One strategy that worked for me best was “not to overthink” when you are solving the reading questions and to go with your gut instincts – there is no time to think during the 60 minutes of tackling reading questions. Especially this applies to me, because I tend to overthink and over analyze a lot when I am stressed. I struggled a lot with the true false questions. But as I trained myself not to overthink, if the text is there either it will be the same meaning as the question or opposite. If text is not there – not given. 
Tip 4
For paragraph heading questions, only read the first and last sentence of each paragraph. A synonym or a related keyword in the heading title should be there. I also sometimes to be on the safe side for some questions read the second sentence as well.
Tip 5
Although, you will keep hearing from people practice and practice. I personally believe practice is inefficient if you do not learn from your incorrect answers. So it really helps to look at your mistakes and compare with the correct answers in the answer key and to reflect on where you made the mistake. I feel that way – you learn more efficiently.
Hope that helps.
Manal
Comments from IELTS Liz
Thanks so much for sharing your tips, Manal. I think many students will benefit from this and also be inspired to keep aiming for the higher scores 🙂
Anyone who would like to add more tips, please post them in the comments box below 🙂
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Capital Letters in IELTS: Will it affect your score?

When to use capital letters in your IELTS listening and reading test. Will you get a lower score if you make a mistake with capital letters? Can you write your answers in all capital letters? What are the rules for capital letters in IELTS? Capital letters in IELTS 2017.

Using Capital Letters for Answers: IELTS Rules

Capital Letters in IELTS Listening and Reading

In IELTS listening and reading, you can write all your answers in capital letters if you want or not.

  • You can write your answers in small letters if you want.
  • You can mix both capitals and lower case if you want.
  • IELTS will NOT mark your capital letters in listening or reading.

Examples of capital letters in listening and reading:

  • Mr Brown = correct / mR bRown = correct / 9am = correct / 9Am = correct / monday = correct / MONDAY = correct
  • It doesn’t matter if you use capital letters, don’t use them or use them inappropriately – the answer will be correct. So don’t worry.

In IELTS listening, you will be given 10 mins extra to transfer your answers to your answer sheet. Capital letters are not important and punctuation is not marked. If your handwriting is poor, write in capital letters so it is easy to read.

In IELTS reading, you will not get 10 extra mins to transfer your answers. You must write your answers directly on your answer sheet. But it is completely your choice how to write your answers. The most important factor is not capital letters but clear writing – same as for listening.

Capital Letters in IELTS Writing

In IELTS Writing, you can choose to write your essay in capital letters. But I wouldn’t recommend it because:

  1. you have a strict time limit and it takes too long to write in capital letters
  2. you WILL be marked on punctuation so the use of capital letters and lower case is important to show. You must have a capital letter at the start of a sentence, for example.

So, write your essay in lower case and remember to use capital letters when appropriate. The examiner will mark you down if you use capital letters incorrectly. Here is a list of typical words that use capital letters:

When to use capital letters in English grammar

  • Days/ Months = Thursday / September
  • Names and Titles = Mrs J Blogs / Dr Author Jones
  • Countries / Cities = India / Vietnam / Paris / Hong Kong
  • Names of Places = University of London
  • Acronyms = BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)
  • Start of a Sentence = “The majority of people use cars to go to work these days. However, it would be better if they used healthier means of transport such as the bicycle.”

Biggest Mistake with Capital Letters

  • but / because / and
    • These linking words NEVER start with a capital letter because they should NEVER be used to start a sentence. See my page of linking words for writing task 2 to learn tips and get a useful list: IELTS Writing Task 2 Linking Words

What about speaking part 2? Well, the notes you make for your talk are not marked and only you see them. The examiner will not check them or mark them. So, don’t write sentences or bother with punctuation, just write words, ideas and tips to help you present a good talk.

More IELTS Tips

What about using a pen or pencil? Click on this link: IELTS Pen or Pencil

How are words counted in IELTS Listening? Click on this link: How Words are Counted in IELTS

Can I use “I” or “my” in writing task 2? Click on this link: How to express your opinion in IELTS WT2

Tips & Practice for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking:

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IELTS Reading Paragraph Information: Whaling

This passage is similar to the level of GT passage 3 and just below academic level. However, it is a useful passage for academic students because it will help develop skills without too much heavy academic vocabulary.

This IELTS reading practice requires you to match information to a particular paragraph. Read instructions carefully.

A Brief History of Whaling

A) People have been whaling for thousands of years. Norwegians were among the first to hunt whales, as early as 4,000 years ago. The Japanese may have been doing so even earlier.

B) Traditions as varied as the Inuit (who hunted in the Arctic Ocean), Basque (who hunted in the Atlantic), and Japanese (who hunted in the Pacific) relied on whales to provide material goods, as well as part of their cultural identity.

C) Nearly every part of the whale was used. Meat, skin, blubber, and organs were eaten as an important source of protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Baleen was woven into baskets and used as fishing line. In warmer climates, baleen was also used as a roofing material. Bones were used primarily for tool making and carving ceremonial items such as masks.

D) During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, whaling gained popularity throughout Northern Europe. Whale oil and baleen (sometimes called whalebone, although it’s not bone at all) were valuable commodities. Whale oil comes from the blubber of right and bowhead whales, and the head cavity of sperm whales. It was used primarily for oil lamps. Corsets and hoop skirts were constructed from whalebone.

Questions 1-5

The reading passage has 4 paragraphs. Which paragraph contains the following information? Letters may be used more than once. Write the correct letter (A-D) as your answer.

  1.  Whaling became common in Northern Europe.
  2. A variety of different cultures have used whales to furnish important supplies.
  3. The Japanese probably started hunting before anyone else.
  4. Whale oil was used for lighting.
  5. The body of a dead whale was used for many purposes and little was wasted.

You can download a free pdf copy of the passage and questions: ielts-reading-history-of-whaling

Answers

Click below to open the answers for the above IELTS reading practice.

Answers
  1. D = Information about Northern Europe and whaling is contained in A (Norway) and D. However, information about whaling being common is contained only in D = gained popularity.
  1. B = Paragraph B contains the names of different cultures. It contains the words ‘provide material goods’ which can be paraphrased to mean ‘furnish important supplies’.
  1. A = Paragraphs A and B contain information about the Japanese. However, paragraph A contains information about the beginning of whaling and the last sentence in paragraph A contains the exact information.
  1. D = Paragraph D contains information about whale oil which was ‘used primarily for oil lamps’.
  1. C = Both paragraphs C and D contain information about the uses of whale. The first sentence of paragraph C, gives further information about not wasting the body.

Passage from: National Geographic  http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/news/big-fish-history-whaling/?ar_ 

 

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IELTS Sentence Completion: Life on Earth

This is a short reading passage to practice sentence completion questions. It’s quite an easy passage to give you all a chance to practice.

Life on Earth

Life on Earth started around 3.8 billion years ago and has since evolved and diversified through the process of natural selection to be adapted to almost every environment possible. There are currently an estimated 1.9 million animals, plants, and other forms of life on Earth.

Life can be found in every nook and cranny/niche of the globe, from the extreme environments of deep sea hydrothermal vents and the freezing conditions of the Polar Regions to the lush habitats found at the equator.

Looking back through time, by means of the fossil and phylogenetic record, we can see that the Earth has been home to many more species than are alive today. Taking a historical perspective shows that life is constantly evolving, with the success and dominance of different groups waxing and waning over time.

The diversity of life is truly amazing, but all living organisms do share certain similarities. All living organisms can replicate, and the replicator molecule is DNA. As well, all living organisms contain some means of converting the information stored in DNA into products used to build cellular machinery from fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. 

Questions 1-4

Complete the sentences. Choose no more than three words and / or a number from the passage for each answer.

  1. The world has been developed and changed by ……………………………… for over 3.8 billion years.
  2. The past history of the species that used to exist on earth can be found through the …………………………………………. record.
  3. The coming and going of specific groups and species can illustrate to us that life is forever ………………………………………. .
  4. Without ……………………, life forms would not be able to replicate.

You can download the passage and questions pdf here: IELTS Reading Life on Earth

Answers

Click to get the answers: Answers

  1. natural selection

developed and changed = evolved and diversified

  1. fossil and phylogenetic (spelling must be correct)

past history = looking back through time

  1. evolving

coming and going = waxing and waning

forever = constantly

  1. DNA

life forms = living organisms

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

Liz

 

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IELTS Reading: The Origin of Water

This practice exercise is about space and tests your ability to deal with true, false not given questions.

Where Did Earth’s Water Come From?

The exact origin of our planet’s water, which covers about 70 percent of Earth’s surface, is still a mystery to scientists. Many researchers think that, instead of water forming at the same time as Earth, objects in the outer solar system delivered water to Earth in violent collisions shortly after its formation.

Astronomers began to wonder if clues to our water’s past may lie in the asteroid belt. This region of hundreds of thousands of asteroids orbiting between the inner and outer planets was believed by astronomers to be too close to the sun to house water, but astronomers recently found the first evidence of ice on the asteroid 24 Themis.

This discovery and others of ice on asteroids suggest that there might be far more ice in the asteroid belt than originally thought and provide another possibility for the origin of ocean water. Probes sent to explore asteroids, such as the DAWN spacecraft, in the upcoming years will reveal more about their mysterious water ice, potentially help us understand the beginnings of Earth’s water.

Questions 1-5

Do the following statements agree with the information given in passage above?

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. 70% of the Earth is covered in water from a known source.
  2. Astronomers studied thousands of asteroids for signs of water.
  3. It was believed that asteroids did not have water because of the proximity to the sun.
  4. It has long been known that there was ice on the asteroid 24 Themis.
  5. More information will be gleaned about the ice on asteroids by dispatching probes.

Answers

Click below to reveal the answers

Answers
  1. False
  2. Not Given
  3. True
  4. False
  5. True

Passage from livescience.com

 Vocabulary
  • collision = crash, impact, accident
  • to wonder = to speculate, to question
  • clue = indication, sign, evidence
  • astronomer = a person who studies space and the universe
  • asteroid = a kind of rock orbiting (circling, going round) the sun
  • house (vb) = to contain, to store
  • upcoming years = future, approaching
  • gleaned = learned, collected, gathered

 

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IELTS Reading Practice: Marie Curie

IELTS reading practice for matching sentence endings questions. This topic is a biography of Marie Curie, a famous scientist. Skim read the passage before attempting the questions. Please note this is not a practice test but just IELTS reading practice to develop skills and understanding of this type of question.

Download the PDF file for the passage and questions: IELTS Reading Practice Marie Curie

Marie Curie

During the 19th century scientists knew little about what went on inside an atom. However, by the end of the century there were startling new ideas about the structure of the atom resulting from the discoveries of X-rays, radioactivity and the electron.

Marie Sklodowska was born in Warsaw in 1867. She was a brilliant student and dreamed of studying at the Sorbonne in Paris but it took eight years of scrimping and saving before she could afford to go. Despite very poor living conditions and a lack of French she graduated in physics in 1893 and mathematics in 1894.

While looking for a laboratory in Paris to continue with her experiments she was introduced to Pierre Curie, a highly regarded professor at the School of Physics. At 35 years old, Pierre was already an internationally recognised physicist. With his brother Paul-Jacques, he discovered piezo-electricity: the fact that crystals under pressure produce electric currents. He also studied crystal symmetries and the magnetic properties of bodies at different temperatures. His papers had been well received by distinguished colleagues but he was still an outsider in the French academic community. Like Marie he did not care for outward distinctions or a career. They married in July 1895.

During her studies Marie had heard about Henri Becquerel’s discovery of some sort of radiation emitting from uranium salts and decided to investigate these mysterious ‘uranium rays’ for her doctoral thesis. She soon discovered that the intensity of the rays was in direct proportion to the amount of uranium in her sample. Nothing she did to the uranium affected the rays. This, she said, ‘shows that radioactivity is an atomic property’. She also found that two minerals, pitchblende and chalcite, were much more radioactive than uranium itself, and realised that they must contain a new radioactive element.

After the exciting results of Marie’s early experiments, Pierre abandoned his study of crystals to join her in her search for new substances. The couple laboured over their work, Marie carrying out the chemical separations and Pierre taking the measurements. They continued with the painstaking refining and by December 1898 the couple announced the discovery of an even more radioactive substance in pitchblende which they called radium. This discovery had far-reaching effects; opening up the fields of radiotherapy and nuclear medicine.

Matching Sentence Endings

Complete the sentences by selecting the correct ending, A-L (not all letters will be used).

  1. In the early 20th century, scientists….
  2. It took Marie 8 years…
  3. Marie tolerated sub-standard accommodation but still…
  4. The research of Pierre Curie was received well …
  5. Both Marie and Pierre shared the same belief that…
  6. The research by Henri Becquerel …
  7. On discovering that there must be a hitherto unknown substance …
  8. The revelation of radium had a momentous  impact on …

Endings

  • A) by the college where he worked.
  • B) lacked French.
  • C) had already made novel discoveries about the atom.
  • D) by notable fellows in his field.
  • E) recognition or vocation was not the main goal.
  • F) graduated in two subjects.
  • G) had rediscovered the x-ray.
  • H) nuclear medicine and radiotherapy.
  • I) prompted her to investigate his discovery further.
  • J) pitchblende.
  • K) her husband relinquished his work for hers.
  • L) of economising prior to  realise her goal of studying in Paris.
Answers
  1. C
    • novel = new / by the end of the 19 century means that this was already happening at the start of the 20th century
  2. L
    • Second paragraph. economising = being careful with money and not overspending = saving
  3. F
    • The answer can be found here: “Despite very poor living conditions and a lack of French she graduated in physics in 1893 and mathematics in 1894.”
  4. D
    • notable = distinguished / colleagues = fellows in his field. Please note that colleague and college do not have the same meaning.
  5. E
    • The answer can be found at the end of the third paragraph: “Like Marie he did not care for outward distinctions or a career.” Please note that “he” refers to her husband, Pierre. outward distinctions = recognition / career = vocation
  6. I
    • The answer can be found in the fourth paragraph: “During her studies Marie had heard about Henri Becquerel’s discovery ………and decided to investigate these mysterious ‘uranium rays’ for her doctoral thesis.”. Prompted means that she was persuaded or it caused her to.
  7. K
    1. The answer can be found in the last paragraph: “Pierre abandoned his study of crystals to join her in her search for new substances.”.  “he reliquished his work” means that he abandoned (gave up) his work.
  8. H
    1. The answer is in the last sentence of the passage: “This discovery had far-reaching effects; opening up the fields of radiotherapy and nuclear medicine. “. The word far-reaching is paraphrased as momentous.

Article from sciencemuseum.org.uk

More Practice with Matching Sentence Endings:

IELTS Reading Passage: Crime & Punishment 

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IELTS Tips: How words are counted

Learn how your words are counted in IELTS. This page explains about counting words, numbers and symbols. You need to know how words are counted for IELTS listening, reading and writing. If you make mistakes with the number of words, you can lose points which can affect your band score.

How words are counted in IELTS

1. Numbers, dates and time are counted as words in writing. For example 30,000 = one word  /  55  = one word  /  9.30am = one word / 12.06.2016 = one word. In listening, 30,000 is counted as one number and 9.30AM is also counted as one number.

2. Dates written as both words and numbers are counted in this way: 12th July = one number and one word.

3. Symbols with numbers are not counted. For example, 55% = one number (the symbol “%” is not counted as a word). However, if you write “55 percent” it is counted as one word and one number.

4. Small words such as “a” or “an” are counted as one word. All prepositions, such as “in” or “at” are also counted. All words are counted.

5. Hyphenated words like “up-to-date” are counted as one word.

6. Compound nouns which are written as one word are also counted as one word. For example, blackboard = one word.

7. Compound nouns which are written as two separate words, are counted as two words. For example, university bookshop = two words.

8. All words are counted, including words in brackets. For example in IELTS writing, “The majority of energy was generated by electricity (55%).”. This sentence is counted as 9 words. The number in brackets is counted.

Tips

Advanced IELTS Writing Lessons: Liz’s Advanced Lessons

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IELTS Reading Practice: The way the brain buys

This IELTS reading practice was reported in the IELTS test this month. The questions for this practice reading lesson focus on True False Not Given quesitons and also Sentence Completion questions. Skim read the passage first to get the general idea of the content and then prepare the questions.

For your convenience you can download the PDF of this reading passage: IELTS reading practice PDF  However, please note that the answers are only found on this page of my blog.

IELTS Reading Practice

The Way The Brain Buys

IT MAY have occurred to you, during the course of a dismal trawl round a supermarket indistinguishable from every other supermarket you have ever been into, to wonder why they are all the same. The answer is more sinister than depressing. It is not because the companies that operate them lack imagination. It is because they are all versed in the science of persuading people to buy things—a science that, thanks to technological advances, is beginning to unlock the innermost secrets of the consumer’s mind.

Shoppers already know that everyday items, like milk, are invariably placed towards the back of a store to provide more opportunity to tempt customers. This is why pharmacies are generally at the rear, even in “convenience” stores. But supermarkets know shoppers know this, so they use other tricks, like placing popular items halfway along a section so that people have to walk all along the aisle looking for them. The idea is to boost “dwell time”: the length of time people spend in a store.

Traditionally retailers measure “footfall”, as the number of people entering a store is known, but those numbers say nothing about where people go and how long they spend there. But nowadays, a ubiquitous piece of technology can fill the gap: the mobile phone. Path Intelligence, a British company working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, tracked people’s phones at Gunwharf Quays, a large retail and leisure centre in Portsmouth—not by monitoring calls, but by plotting the positions of handsets as they transmit automatically to cellular networks. It found that when dwell time rose 1% sales rose 1.3%.

Most of the information that shoppers are bombarded with is visual: labels, price stickers and advertising. But the wafting bread aroma shows smell can usefully be stimulated too, says Simon Harrop, chief executive of BRAND sense agency, a British specialist in multi-sensory marketing. In the aisle by the laundry section he suggests introducing the smell of freshly laundered sheets. Even the sound of sheets being folded could be reproduced here and contained within the area using the latest audio technology. The Aroma Company, which Mr Harrop founded, has put the smell of coconut into the shops of Thompson, a British travel agent. Some suntan oils smell of coconut, so the scent is supposed to remind people of past holidays. The company even infuses the fresh smell of citrus into a range of clothing made by Odeur, a Swedish company. It can waft for up to 13 washes.

Such techniques are increasingly popular because of a deepening understanding about how shoppers make choices. People tell market researchers and “focus groups” that they make rational decisions about what to buy, considering things like price, selection or convenience. But subconscious forces, involving emotion and memories, are clearly also at work.

Retailers and producers talk a lot about the “moment of truth”. This is not a philosophical notion, but the point when people standing in the aisle decide what to buy and reach to get it. The Basingstoke store illustrates some of the ways used to get shoppers’ hands to wobble in the direction of a particular product. At the instant coffee selection, for example, branded products from the big producers are arranged at eye-level while cheaper ones are lower down, along with the supermarket’s own-label products.

Technology is making the process of monitoring shopper behaviour easier—which is why the security cameras in a store may be doing a lot more than simply watching out for theft. Rajeev Sharma, of Pennsylvania State University, founded a company called VideoMining to automate the process. It uses image-recognition software to scan the pictures from security cameras of shoppers while they are making their selections. It is capable of looking at the actions of hundreds of thousands of people. It can measure how many went straight to one brand, the number that dithered and those that compared several, at the same time as sorting shoppers by age, gender and ethnicity.

Questions 1-9

Decide if the following questions are true, false or not given.

  • True = the statement matches the information in the passage
  • False = the statement contradicts the information in the passage
  • Not Given = the information is not found in the passage
  1. Supermarkets are similar in layout because the companies do not have imagination.
  2. Commonly bought items are occasionally put at the back of the supermarket.
  3. Putting popular products midway down aisles encourages customers to wander round the shop more in order find something new.
  4. Path Intelligence is a successful company, well known with universities.
  5. Path Intelligence was able to monitor where people’s handsets were.
  6. Customers can be influenced by aromas.
  7. The moment of truth is when people decide what they can afford.
  8. More cameras have been placed in supermarkets to record customer behaviour.
  9. The position of cameras is strategically planned to encourage people to buy brand names.

Questions 10 – 14

Complete the sentences below with the correct word(s) taken from the passage. Use no more than three words and/or a number.

  • 10. Supermarkets are highly experienced in the ………… of persuasion .
  • 11. Popular items are placed strategically in aisles to increase ……………….
  • 12. Research showed that there was a positive correlation between dwell time and ………..
  • 13. Smells reminiscent of previous vacations have been used to influence customers in the ………………..
  • 14. Brand name products are often placed at ………………… in the Basingstoke store.

Answers

Click below to reveal the answers.

Answers
  1. F = “It is not because the companies that operate them lack imagination.” “It” refers how supermarkets all seem the same.
  2. F = “Shoppers already know that everyday items, like milk, are invariably placed towards the back of a store” This sentence refers to what customers know, not what supermarkets actually do. This sentence “But supermarkets know shoppers know this, so they use other tricks, like placing popular items halfway along a section” refers to what supermarkets actually do.
  3. F = Customers are made to walk around more to increase dwell time not because it encourages them to find new things.
  4. NG = This part of the sentence “Path Intelligence, a British company working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,…” does not show that the company is successful or is well known with universities as a whole. That information is not given in the passage at all.
  5. T = “not by monitoring calls, but by plotting the positions of handsets as they transmit automatically to cellular networks.”
  6. T
  7. F
  8. NG
  9. NG
  10. science
  11. dwell time
  12. sales
  13. shops of Thomson
  14. eye-level

This article was reported to be used in the IELTS test in Sept 2015. You can see the full article here.

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

Liz

 

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