Vocabulary | Academic Collocations Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

​In order to receive a higher band in speaking or writing, you must accurately use academic vocabulary. Learning academic vocabulary will also help you to understand academic texts in the reading test and part 4 of the listening test. This class will help you to notice and use six academic verb and preposition collocations. It will also give you valuable reading practice.

Remember a collocation is a pair or set of words that are usually found together (eg ‘wake up’, ‘interested in, ‘good at’)

Exercise 1

Read the following passage about the history of computing. Decide if the following statements are true, false or not given
Picture
Picture
Charles Babbage and his Analytical Machine, Science Museum de Londres (May 2009)
Computers are generally associated with the latter half of the 20th century but the story of computing devices goes much farther back. In the 1830s Charles Babbage was a man who specialised in mechanical engineering and he has been credited with the invention of the first computing device, the Analytical Engine. This was a machine that acted like a giant mechanical calculator. The huge device consisted of thousands of individual hand-made parts which made it very hard to build and this is one of the reasons why it was never finished. Another reason was that Babbage depended on the government to invest in the project but political issues forced the government to stop funding. Babbage’s failure to complete the analytical engine can be attributed to difficulties not only of politics and financing, but also to his desire to develop a more sophisticated machine than anyone else in the world was able to do. 

1. People usually connect computers with the 1950s onwards.
2. Many people believe that Babbage was responsible for the earliest computing machine.
3. Babbage’s family worked in engineering.
4. The analytical engine was composed of parts that were made by machines.
5. Babbage needed the government to fund the construction of the analytical machine.
6. There was one reason why the analytical machine was never finished.
7. If it had been completed, the machine would have made Babbage very rich.

​Notice that the true, false, not given questions contain synonyms (words with the same or similar meaning) of the words used in the passage. This is a common but important trick in the IELTS test. Identifying synonyms will help you to answer reading questions accurately.

Exercise 2

Select a word/phrase in the box and then the gap next to its synonym. All of these words can be found in the true, false, not given questions or in the text.
Click or touch a word above
1. Connect (verb)
2. Credited with (phrasal verb)
3. Consisted of (verb preposition collocation)
4. Fund (verb)
5. Completed (verb)


Exercise 3

​Reread the passage. Complete the verb and preposition collocations found in the text. Click on a preposition in the box and then on the gap next to a verb.
Computers are generally associated with the latter half of the 20th century but the story of computing devices goes much farther back. In the 1830s Charles Babbage was a man who specialised in mechanical engineering and he has been credited with the invention of the first computing device, the Analytical Engine. This was a machine that acted like a giant mechanical calculator. The huge device consisted of thousands of individual hand-made parts which made it very hard to build and this is one of the reasons why it was never finished. Another reason was that Babbage depended on the government to invest in the project but political issues forced the government to stop funding. Babbage’s failure to complete the analytical engine can be attributed to difficulties not only of politics and financing, but also to his desire to develop a more sophisticated machine than anyone else in the world was able to do. 

1. a) associated ___
of
with
in
on
to
2. b) specialised ___
of
with
in
on
to
3. c) consist ___
of
with
in
on
to
4. d) depend ___
of
with
in
on
to
5. e) invest ___
of
with
in
on
to
6. f) attribute ___
of
with
in
on
to

Picture
Charles Babbage’s 1840 Analytical Engine Design. (Computer History Museum) 
What do these words mean?

associated – connected with something or someone.
specialised – used or prepared for a special function.
consist – to be made/built/composed of.
depend – to need/rely on.
invest – to give money to a project or business.
attribute – to give a reason for something/be caused by


Exercise 4

​Complete the sentences below by typing a verb and preposition collocation in each gap. Be careful of capital letters. You must use verb preposition collocations from the previous activity. You may need to change the form of the verb.
1. I will animal psychology when I start my postgraduate studies next year.
2. The Mona Lisa, a famous painting of a sitting girl, is Leonardo Da Vinci.
3. Some people are very intelligent and achieve great academic results with a minimum of effort but the rest of us hard work and luck.
4. If you ethical businesses, you can improve your finances and make the world a better place.
5. Coal carbon and other elements that formed when plants died and were subjected to heat and pressure over millions of years.
6. Obesity is a lack of exercise and high intake of calories.

Well done for completing these exercises! When you do future reading exercises, see if you can identify any collocations. This will really help you improve your English accuracy!

For more, see our Collocations Quizzes.

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