Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Note-taking Techniques for the IELTS Listening Exam

Note-taking is one of the essential skills you need to ace the IELTS Listening exam. The test involves listening to four audio materials of native English speakers of various accents and answering questions about their respective discussion topics within a 30-minute time limit.

As an exam taker, you must not only listen carefully to the recordings but also take notes as it progresses. The audio recordings cannot be played back after the test. Thus, whatever details you managed to jot down are your only reference for answering the exam.

ielts review center

You can improve your note-taking skills by enrolling in a review center for IELTS. The IELTS review center in Manila, Makati, Davao and Cebu, for instance, can give you mock listening tests that you can use to practice on. After all, you can adjust to the demands of the actual exam faster if you are used to using similar materials during your training.

To improve your chances of getting a high band score, here are five note-taking techniques that you can use during the IELTS Listening exam:

1.    Read the questions.

Read the questions before playing the audio material.  Mark or underline key words in the items to determine which words you need to listen to during the recording. 
Concentrate on identifying significant details such as names, numbers and actions.
Make your predictions about the audio material’s topic based on the questions.

2.    Write only the key points. 

Write your notes as you listen to the recording. To help you determine what to jot down, here is a list of all important information you need to pay attention to:

•    Key words and phrases (as mentioned in the questions)
•    Subject-verb relationships (singular and plural) 
•    Possessive nouns (usage of apostrophe and “s”)
•    Other grammatical applications (dangling modifiers, fragments, etc.)

List down all the words that you deem important, based on the questions and the recording. If you are unsure of a term’s spelling, jot down how it sounds like. You can check its spelling if it is mentioned in the items.

3.    Keep it short and simple.

Do not jot down everything you hear. If you focus on writing, you might lose track of the audio material. Keep your notes to words and phrases only. Do not worry about your spelling and grammar since your drafts will not be graded. 

4.    Device your own shorthand writing style.

Shorthand writing is one of the most effective note-taking techniques.

It refers to the practice of writing swiftly by replacing words and phrases with symbols, characters or abbreviations to shorten a statement.

There is no established shorthand guide to follow as it lets users develop their adaptations of the approach. For instance, you can use an arrow sign pointing upwards for the word “increase” and substitute an arrow pointing downwards for “decrease.” You can remove vowels, use acronyms or even redesign the entire alphabet. Anything goes as long as it would help you compress sentences.

5.    Organize your notes.

Utilize the provided space wisely. Cluttering your notes together can cause confusion later. Deliberately write down connected information together to emphasize their relationship. If you are a visually inclined person, jot down your notes using graphic organizers such as concept maps and diagrams.

Though note-taking is all about personal style and comprehension, practicing under the guidance of a review center for IELTS can boost your training progress significantly. These facilities can tailor your preparation efforts according to the requirements of the exam. The mock tests provided at the IELTS review center in Manila, for instance, provide an accurate preview of the exam. 

In conclusion, note-taking is more about quality than quantity. Avoid writing everything down. To record information effectively, you must know what you are listening to and focus only on what is important. Organize your notes strategically and keep everything as short as possible.

Follow these strategies and boost your chances of securing an excellent band score in the IELTS Listening exam.


Desai, Manali. “What are the best note-taking strategies in IELTS Listening Test?” Quora. March 06, 2012. Accessed December 07, 2016. https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-best-note-taking-strategies-in-IELTS-Listening-Test

“Note-Taking Tips for IELTS and Academic Success.” Language Link Vietnam. Accessed December 07, 2016. http://blog.llv.edu.vn/?p=666

“Listening and Note-Taking Strategies.” UNSW Australia. Accessed December 07, 2016. https://student.unsw.edu.au/listening-and-note-taking-strategies

“TOEFL & IELTS skills – Notetaking.” engVid. Accessed December 07, 2017. http://www.engvid.com/toefl-ielts-skills-notetaking/

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