Good note-taking skills can be a significant contribution to scoring high on the listening section of the TOEFL test.  In my experience, I have found that good note-taking consists of eliminating function words, using abbreviations and graphic organizers.  By doing these three things, you significantly can increase the time you can spend attending to the lecture, rather than writing.  Moreover, your notes will be organized and therefore locating information should be easier.

Eliminating Function Words

There are two kinds of words in a language: function words and content words.  Content words are verbs, adjectives, and nouns, for example.  These words are essential to the meaning and should be kept in your notes.  Function words, such as auxiliaries, prepositions, and articles, pronouns, particles and conjunctions carry little meaning and therefore should not  be included in your notes.


The pling of the pling pling pling from an pling pling.

op origin op op name America comes op op Italian explorer.


Abbreviations are shortened forms of words.  You can abbreviate words in a number of ways.  The easiest way is to use one letter to represent the word.  This works best with proper nouns.  You should be able to remember the word from one letter only given the context.  For example, on a lecture on planets, you abbreviate one of them using V.  Which planet is that?

V – Venus

Another way to abbreviate works best for larger words and consists of taking the first four letters of a multi-syllable word.

Info– Information

One other way to abbreviate larger words is to take the beginning, middle, and end letters of the word.  For example:

Mgr– Manager

You can also abbreviate by using symbols, such as the following:





Graphic Organizers


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