Friday, December 20, 2013

Notes! Notes! I Need My Notes For TOEFL Exam Preparation!

Hello everyone and welcome back! Now, I've talked about this before, but this time I've come up with a very good idea for taking notes for TOEFL. This idea came about while discussing strategies with one of my students, so I'd like to thank her for the inspiration. (I really love it when my students give me ideas!) Now, I've already discussed the importance of note taking for TOEFL and that you can take notes at any time during the test. Also, I recommended that you do this throughout the test. However, I only really touched on one aspect of note taking and that was to write your notes in 1 to 2 words, meaning all your points should be kept to 1-2 words only. What I realize now is that I never discussed anyway of organizing your notes. This is what I'm going to talk about now. Keeping your notes organized, having them in some type of logical order is necessary and imperative for both the speaking and writing tasks. Particularly the integrated tasks. By having your notes organized, you will have a map or guide that you can use to logically present your topics. Logical development and structure are two key considerations for scoring and so the proper organization of your notes should be taken into consideration. Now, as I have said, keep your notes to 1-2 words per point. There are several ways of organizing your notes, which I will discuss and these are in the form of charts. I'll will discuss one form now and then in the next blog entry I will discuss the other. This first form is perfect for the independent speaking tasks as well as the listening speaking task in which you must summarize a lecture. This can also be useful for the independent writing task. The form your notes should take is that of a pyramid. With the pyramid in mind, you have the topic at the top. Below that you have the major idea followed by the main ideas which come below. Under the main ideas are minor ideas as well as details used to describe the ideas. It would look something like this
As you can see, the topic is at the top, supported by the major idea and the supported by the main ideas, minor ideas and details at the bottom. Remember, examples are also details so you can put examples cited here. Now, using a lecture which was recently used for Listening Speaking practice, I will use the above chart to show how the notes can be organized. Now, you need not organize exactly as shown here, but keep the general idea in mind as you write you notes. As I have said, this is perfect for the listening speaking task of summarizing the points for a lecture. There are two other speaking tasks in which you can apply this. Both involve conversations. The first one I'm mentioning is the listening speaking task in which you listen to a conversation in which a person has a problem and is offered solutions and then you must offer your opinion. The question is typically framed as "what is the man's problem, what are the solutions given and what do you think the person should do and why?" You would start off with the top line being the problem, and then followed by the solutions. Below these, you can list problems which the person has for the solutions. The other speaking task is the Reading Listening task in which you listen to a conversation. The typical question for this is "what is the person's opinion and why does this person hold this opinion?" You would put the opinion at the top then followed by the reasons below. Remember, logical development and structure of your speech and writing are critical components which are considered in scoring. By keeping well organized notes, this will make your job easier. That's it for now. I'll cover the other method for note taking in my next entry. If you have any suggestions or comments, please email me at . I would love to hear from you and perhaps I may post one of your ideas here. Remember, you can use all the features here at to help you prepare for TOEFL. We're committed to your success! All the best!

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