May 5

Effective Note-taking For The PTE Academic

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Many test takers wonder if they are allowed to take notes during the exam. Taking notes is allowed but not by conventional methods. Pearson does not allow candidates to leave test centers with any form of written material, for fear that they might contain copies of pte questions. This is done in order to ensure the integrity of the test. This means candidates are not allowed to take any writing implements such as pens or pencils with them into the test room.

For this reason, an erasable notebook and pen will be provided to us to use throughout your test. However, there are only certain items in which its use is actually necessary. You can use these during the lengthier question types like for essays, retell lectures, sst and swt. It is also really useful for most of the listening questions since the recordings are only played once.

For the listening section in particular, since time is scarce, you should avoid making lengthy notes, as you might miss important information. Simply focus on keywords and phrases. Your notes should only serve to reinforce what you are listening to, so make sure that you focus on listening and not on notetaking. This will help to clarify your understanding of what you are listening to.


Tricky Markers


Make sure that you request to have two markers just in case, and also make sure that you always replace the cap after you use it. They tend to dry out pretty quickly and it would take some time before an invigilator can provide you with a new one.

Let’s take a look at which questions you need to take notes for:


Describe Image Question


In this speaking question, candidates will be given 25 seconds of prep time, in which they have to analyse the image and any information that is given along with it.

Make the most of Erasable Notepad, Booklet and Pen provided to you. take notes and use these organise your ideas more clearly.

Since your preparation time is quite short, it is not possible to describe everything and make lengthy notes, so you must carefully select which parts you describe, and note down keywords instead of full sentences. I recommend that you only choose three key features to discuss. Pay more attention to details such as the largest, the smallest, the most common, the largest change, or the most similar or the most different aspects.


Retell Lecture


For this question, you will have to make notes as you listen to the lecture. Make sure that you focus when listening to the lecture.

Your notes should only serve to reinforce what you are listening to, so make sure that you focus on listening and not on notetaking. Do not write in full sentences as you might lose your place in the recording and miss out on valuable information.


Summarize Written Text


For this question, you should spend about to 2 minutes reading the text and then make a note of the important sentences. Make note of the important keyword phrases, that you could rephrase and use in your summary. Once again there is not enough time to write down full sentences, so try to limit your notes to important ‘noun verb’ phrases that can help you to remember the main points.


Listening Tasks


Apart from Highlight Incorrect Words & Write From Dictation, almost all other listening question types require some form of notetaking. Candidates need to focus on listening and note down keywords and phrases if necessary.  However, it can be quite challenging to test takers to listen to the recording, take notes.

You can easily practice your notetaking skills by taking full-length practice tests under exam conditions. This will help you to improve the speed at which you take notes as well as their quality.


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