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A notable difference from TOEFL PBT, note-taking is allowed on all sections of the TOEFL iBT. Educational Testing Service, ETS, figures that you will need to be a good note-taker on reading and listening passages before being admitted to a university. Putting any passive learning styles aside, you must be an active learner while you read and listen to academic passages. To achieve academic excellence, an active learner takes notes on reading and listening passages and is able to recall the main ideas and critical supporting points at a later time.
Unlike a university student who actively prepares for university lectures by reading assigned readings beforehand and previewing the lecture points to be discussed in the syllabus, you will have no preparation time beforehand to prepare for the TOEFL iBT campus-related and academic readings, academic lectures, campus-related discussions, and academic discussions.
The Rationale for TOEFL iBT Note-taking
On TOEFL iBT speaking tasks, you will have 15 to 30 seconds to prepare your responses on the integrated speaking tasks: read, listen and speak (campus-related); read, listen, speak (academic); listen and speak (campus-related); and listen and speak (academic). To succeed, you will rely on your notes as you answer the speaking tasks.
On the TOEFL iBT writing section, you will have 20 minutes to explain how an academic reading and listening passage are related. Using your notes, you will summarize the two sources and explain how they are related. To achieve a high score on this section, you will need to rely on your notes as you answer the writing task.
On the TOEFL iBT reading section, you will read several reading passages, some of which can be up to 750 words long. Taking notes on these reading passages will increase your reading comprehension and will help you to answer the questions, especially those involving charts and schematic tables.
On the listening section, you will listen to 3-5 minute lectures so it will be impossible for you to memorize what was said. You will need to rely on your notes as you answer the questions.
Therefore, preparing now to be a good note-taker will help you to increase your score on the speaking, writing, reading, and listening TOEFL iBT sections.
Different Note-Taking Methods
Speakers on the TOEFL iBT will speak approximately 100-200 words per minute. But even the best college student can only write down 20-30 words per minute. Therefore, if your goal is to write down everything you read or listen to on the TOEFL iBT, you will not be able to achieve success. The key is to develop a system of note-taking that will allow you to write down the main idea and critical supporting points. The Cornell Method, the Outline Method, the Mapping Method, the Charting Method, and the Sentence Method of note-taking should be practiced regularly before taking the TOEFL iBT. Do you know what these note-taking methods are and when to use them? If not, go here to read about them: http://www.sas.calpoly.edu/asc/ssl/notetaking.systems.html#charting
Adjust Note-taking Methods according to the Organization of the Reading and Listening Passage
On the TOEFL iBT, you will read and listen to passages which have different kinds of organizational patterns: classification, compare/contrast, steps in a process, narration, and so on. It is important to understand when to use a certain method of note-taking.
Cornell Method: Works well in most types of lecture situations.
Outline Method: Works well when the lecture is organized and if you already have superior note-taking skills.
Mapping Method: Like the outline method, mapping works well when the content of the lecture is filled with terminology and when the lecture is well-organized. Also, mapping may be a good choice when you have no idea how the information is going to be presented.
Charting Method: Works well if you are presented with a fast, content-driven, and chronological lecture focusing on facts and relationships.
Sentence Method: By far, the least effective, this method works as a last resort such as when you can not tell how the information is organized. For example, the lecture quickly presents information point by point instead of including a more specific organization such as “three important contributions are…”
Practice Note-taking Regularly
Now that you are more aware of the importance of note-taking, you should practice these methods of note-taking: TV, radio, intensive English classes, Online Classes, TOEFL iBT and other types of information-driven web sites and blogs, college textbooks, lengthy and complicated E-mails, and so on. Find opportunities to practice note-taking on both reading and listening passages. Practice makes perfect!
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