Jane Birkenhead, September 15 2022

Note-Taking: 4 General Strategies

 A lot of students ask me for advice about note-taking. 

Note-taking in TOEFL is stressful because you don’t get a second chance if you miss something. But I do think there’s a lot of bad advice being shared, and many popular resources over-complicate it. 

The first, most important point to remember is:

"Note taking for TOEFL is NOT the same as note-taking for university courses."

In TOEFL, you know WHY you are listening to something. And you know what you're doing to do with the information when you've finished listening. So, you can be selective about the notes you take. 

In university courses, your aim is to capture as much information from the lecture as possible. This is because you don't always know how you're going to use it in the future.

Knowing and understanding this fundamental difference will help you to develop your own strategies for note-taking in TOEFL. 

Here are 4 general strategies to start:

1. Understand the STRUCTURE of what you’re taking notes for.

2. PRACTICE writing notes and develop your own system.

3. Know that LISTENING is more important than note-taking.

4. DON'T think about SUMMARIZING.

Note-taking is a skill and it takes a lot of practice to get really good at it. Practice by listening to shorter passages first then build up to longer ones as you get more confident. 

Written by

Jane Birkenhead

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