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PTE Speaking and Listening Skills: Note-taking

Note-taking is a vital skill required for PTE Academic. To do well in Listening and Speaking, you must be able to take notes quickly and effectively.

What is note-taking?

Note-taking is writing down short, clear notes when listening to (or watching) a lecture. In PTE Academic you will need to note down the main topic of a lecture and any important supporting ideas.

What PTE Academic tasks need note-taking?

Note-taking must be used in the following tasks:

  1. Re-tell Lecture (SPEAKING)

  2. Summarize Spoken Text (LISTENING)

  3. Multiple Choice – Multiple Answers (LISTENING)

  4. Multiple Choice – Single Answers (LISTENING)

  5. Highlight Correct Summary (LISTENING)

How can I take notes during the test?

You can write down notes by using the Erasable Noteboard Booklet and pen provided.

Top Tips

1. Don’t write down everything you hear

If you try to write down everything, you will miss parts of the lecture; possibly important parts! It’s impossible to concentrate fully on what a lecture is saying if you are writing. Your brain just can’t do both at the same time! So just write down the important parts: the main ideas, the key points.

2. Write short versions of words

Also called shorthand or abbreviations, write down shorter versions of words. e.g. gov instead of government e.g. mrktng instead of marketing e.g. NYC instead of New York City Just like the words people use on Facebook, Twitter or in messages! This saves valuable time and means you can write quickly and get back to listening.

3. Use symbols

We can use symbols like arrows ( INSERT ARROW IMAGES) or mathematical symbols to note down whole words – this saves lots of time! e.g. $ – money, dollars, etc e.g. ∴ – therefore e.g. ↑ – increase e.g. ↓ – decrease For a list of commonly used abbreviations and symbols to get you started, click here and here.

4. Use your own language

If there is a shorter way to write a word in your native language, use it! Your notes don’t have to be in English. Just remember to write or speak your answer in English! For a printable list of note-taking methods, click here.

Develop your own style

There is no one way to take notes. Everyone has a different style! The best way to take notes is your own individual way; develop a list of short words (abbreviations) and symbols that make the most sense to you and practice using them! The more you use them, the better your note-taking skills will become.

How can I practice?

Below are some really helpful websites with lecture you can use to practise taking notes at home. You can also come to our Listening classes for PTE Academic preparation courses at English Key Melbourne or Sydney. Let our experienced teachers help you improve your listening and note-taking skills in a PTE Academic coaching course.


For each lecture, listen carefully and make notes about the main topic and the important supporting points. Remember: don’t try to write everything down! Just ask yourself: what is the main point of this lecture? Then check your answers by listening again or checking the subtitles or transcript. Good luck!

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