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Best Tips for Note Taking on the IELTS

Some students have trouble with taking notes while listening because it requires you to do two tasks at the same time (listen and write). However, it is necessary to take notes because effective note taking will help you to better understand the meaning and logic of listening materials on the IELTS. Practice your note taking skill when doing practice tests and it will definitely improve your listening score. Here are some tips for note taking on the IELTS!

Do not write down every single word

It is impossible to write down every word you hear while listening. Therefore, you need to select key information such as main ideas and examples. Take a look at the following example, from an IELTS listening practice.

Text: There’s really three rates according to quality of insurance cover – there’s the highest comprehensive cover which is Premium rate, then there’s standard rate and then there’s economy rate.

The key information in the text is the three different rates in terms of insurance cover quality and here is my note.

IELTS note-magoosh



Use abbreviations and symbols

Abbreviations and symbols can speed up your note taking rate. Check out the most commonly used abbreviation list. Also, you can create your own abbreviations such as using the first several letters of a long word. For instance, dic can used to replace the word dictionary. Besides, symbols can be used instead of words to save your time. For example, an arrow going up/down can indicate increase/decrease.

Here is another example:

Text: If you’re interested in a course focusing on current issues there’s the option on Identity and Popular Culture – that approaches the subject through things like contemporary film, adverts, soap operas and so on.


IELTS notes-magoosh

Abbreviations such as iss, ad, PC and the symbol & are used to replace the original words issue, adverts, Popular Culture and and.


Leave space

Do not put everything tightly together on your note because it may cause confusion afterward. It is better to have one line for just one piece of information. If you take a look at the previous two examples about selecting key points in a text and using abbreviations, you will find that I left enough space for every single piece of information to make it clear.


Use your native language

You can write down information in your native language or a mixture of English and your mother tongue if it is more convenient for you.

The point for note taking is to make sure that you can trace back to your notes when giving answers. Therefore, you may create your own style of note as long as you can record key points and understand the note!


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