If you’re intending on taking the TOEFL iBT test, then it’s essential to brush up on the relevant knowledge. The four main sections—listening, reading, speaking, and writing—are all aimed toward determining your proficiency level in each.

However, with the listening section, you’ll find that a number of different capabilities will be tested simultaneously.

Not only will you need to prove your English listening comprehension skills, you will also have to hone your concentration abilities in order to perform well on the section. Your memory will also be tested when it comes to the content of the recordings you will be listening to, which can be aided with the use of notes.

You will be given scratch paper during the TOEFL on which you can take down all the necessary information during the listening section.

The Importance of Note-Taking

You may be wondering why it is so important to take notes during the listening section of the TOEFL. The fact of the matter is that the excerpts you will be made to listen to will be considerably lengthy, making it difficult to keep all the necessary information in mind.

There’s a lot of information to digest in each recording, and without the use of notes, you may find it difficult to answer related questions in a satisfactory manner.

You can use your notes to keep key concepts in mind, and also be able to recall significant details in the listening passage.

Essential Note-Taking Tips for TOEFL Candidates

Find the Right Balance

When practising your note taking, you need to find the right balance. It’s imperative to not take too many or too few notes. Too many notes means you’re likely to lose out on crucial parts of the lecture or conversation, while too few notes may leave you at a loss when it comes to answering questions.

Acquiring this balance means realising that you need to write down enough information within a specific time limit, without losing out on key points in the listening passage.

Use Abbreviations

Taking notes during the listening section needs to be a speedy endeavor, and that isn’t something that can happen if you get caught up in writing down fully formed sentences.

Notes need to be short and concise, so make use of abbreviations and symbols to speed up the process. Short-hand can go a long way in making your note-taking process a quick one; you simply do not have enough time to get wordy!

Whichever symbols or short cuts you choose to make use of, what matters is that you understand them right off the bat. Shorter notes are not only faster to write, but also quicker to peruse through when you need to.


TOEFL iBT Listening

Focus on Key Points Only

While compiling your notes during the listening section, it’s essential not to get lost in the details. Pick up on central ideas and key concepts, and use those to aid you in remembering the specifics.

You only need to be writing down the most crucial details. If you get preoccupied writing down all the specifics, you’ll find yourself lagging behind, and even miss out on listening to key content in the passage.

So what are these key points that you should be noting down? These would be the central theme or topic being talked about in the excerpt, overarching opinions or reasons, and other significant details that are used to expand on the main idea.

Keep Up the Pace

With a test like TOEFL, pacing is highly crucial. As you’ll be listening to each lecture or conversation, the speakers will naturally be talking faster than you can write.

If you fall behind while taking notes, it’s best to just stop and move on to the next point, as you run the risk of missing out on important information.

Don’t get caught up in the little details—even remembering partial information is better than missing out on an entire chunk of information.

Don’t Lose Focus

In order not to miss out on important information, you need to learn to focus while listening to the various recordings on the test.

The TOEFL can get quite lengthy, but you need to retain your attention span throughout. This is particularly important for the listening section as you will compromise on your ability to give the right answers if your mind starts to stray.

While the excerpts play, keep your mind sharp and don’t let it get distracted. Even as you write notes, your mind needs to be centered on the content of the recording.


One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to listen to a lecture or conversation, and then move on to taking notes.

All the audio excerpts tend to be a few minutes in length, meaning that you’re likely to forget important points once it finishes, leaving you with incomplete information to note down. Additionally, writing down notes after listening to the lecture or conversation means you’ll be cutting into your precious time for answering questions.

It’s best to take notes as the recording plays. You need to build up a high level of speed and focus in order to do this satisfactorily.

Practice Makes Perfect

At the end of the day, your preparation for the TOEFL iBT relies on your level of practice. The most surefire way to hone your note-taking skills is through consistent practice. If you’re looking for TOEFL practice tests online, then we offer you entirely reliable resources which you can easily access.

At the end of your preparation process, you will be able to multitask with ease, and take brief, concise notes that put across all the relevant information for your question answering needs.

It’s natural to struggle with the process, particularly if you find that you have poor English listening skills. You can make use of free TOEFL study guides, or invest in a credible tutor to help refine your listening and comprehension abilities.


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