Develop this skill to get 9.0 in IELTS Listening

A sheet of paper with the words "Take Notes" written in large font.

A lot of people will tell you that Listening is the easiest segment in the IELTS Exam and that you will easily get a 9. I’m here to tell you that if you work hard enough, you will get a 9. And that means you will need to practice for Listening, just like you practice for Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

Practicing for Listening is more tricky than it seems because it is more difficult to recreate the conditions of the IELTS test – no interruptions and being able to listen to the recordings only once. However, there is one skill that is underrated and helps improve every segment of IELTS – including (and especially) IELTS Listening. And that is the ability to take good notes.

A blank sheet of paper with a pen and pencil by the side.

For listening, you won’t have any text to refer to if you get lost. You need to completely focus to understand what is being said and to remember it. It is very likely that you won’t be able to remember everything, so if you don’t catch the information right away, it is unlikely that you will get a correct answer. And, really, who cares if you understand the recordings or not if you don’t get correct answers?

You can learn more about IELTS Listening with our iconic self-study materials Everything IELTS – The Comprehensive Guide to IELTS.

That is why the ability to take good notes means you are able to grab the most important information based on the question requirements and filter out unnecessary details. This skill is essential to answering questions, allowing you to get higher scores in IELTS Listening.

This is how you can use note-taking in your IELTS Listening (and pretty much all other skills in IELTS).

Getting ready to take notes

Before the recordings are played, read and analyze the questions. While listening, take some notes. Then, at the end of each part, take some time to “check the answers” and that is when you read your notes and choose the best answers based on what you write.

Even with the questions that you can answer right when you are listening to the recordings, you should still double-check your answers by using your notes to make sure your answers are correct.

And don’t forget that you get a few minutes to transfer your answers to the answer sheet if you take the paper-based exam. Make use of it.

Tips for effective note-taking

Whether you’re a student, professional, or simply seeking to improve your information retention, here are five tips for effective note-taking:

  1. Read the questions first: This helps you focus on the answers required.
  2. Don’t bother with full sentences: Use headings, subheadings, bullet points, and numbering to organize information quickly. This makes it easier to navigate your notes later and quickly locate specific topics or details.
  3. Be Selective and Concise: Avoid transcribing everything you hear or read. Focus on capturing the main ideas, key points, and supporting details. Aim for concise notes that convey the essence of the content. Use abbreviations, symbols, and your own shorthand to speed up the note-taking process.
  4. Active Listening and Engagement: Engage actively with the recordings as you take notes. This means understanding the content rather than mechanically copying it. Listen, read, or observe attentively, and then summarize the information in your own words. Active engagement enhances your understanding and retention of the material.

Remember, effective note-taking is a skill that improves with practice. Over time, you’ll develop a personalized note-taking style that optimizes your learning and helps you capture and retain essential information.

Don’t forget that you can practice for free on Have fun learning!

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Huyen Nguyen

Founder of Practice9, creator of IELTS with Huyen. Huyen has 10 years of experience with IELTS, overall 8.5.

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