English & EAL

How To Take Speedy Notes During Listening Component of VCE EAL Exam

September 30, 2022

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Are you a slow writer who struggles to write down all of the information that you hear in the listening audio clip? Have you ever been in a situation where the next sentence in the audio comes up way before you finish writing down information from the previous sentence? If yes, then this blog is for you! 

You want to write down as much useful information as possible in a short period of time during your VCE EAL exam, so it is very useful to implement a system of techniques that works well for you personally. Here are some ideas and suggestions that you may want to use to increase the speed of your note-taking. 

1. Use Different Coloured Pens or Keys for Different Speakers

Under the stress of exams/SACs, you might lose track of which speaker is talking. This is likely to happen if the speakers are of the same sex or they sound similar to each other (from personal experience, I had a listening task with 3 female speakers!) A simple way to remind yourself of who is speaking is to take side notes with different coloured pens and/or symbols for different speakers. 

For example:

If in the audio: Lisa says, ‘The weather is lovely’ and Cici replies ‘Let’s go for a run’. We can write side notes using L (for Lisa) and C for Cici, which may look like: 

L ‘weather is lovely’

C 'Let's go for a run’ 

Or, you could use a red pen for Lisa and blue pen for Cici. 

2. Use Signs & Symbols to Replace Words

Using symbols is an efficient way to increase the speed of writing and ultimately increase the amount of information that you can record. Here are some examples of symbols I have used in the past and the meanings I gave them. 

→ Leading to/Stimulate/Result in

↑ Increase   

↓ Decrease  

$ Money  

↔ Swap  

⇆ Exchangeable 

☓ Cross/Incorrect   

& And

@ At 

= Equal 

/ Or

∵ Because 

∴ Therefore OR Consequently 

?  Uncertain/Possibly/Disapprove  

> Greater than/More than

< Less than/Fewer than

# Number 

~ Approximately OR Around OR Similar to OR Not Equal OR Not the same as

∆ Change  

◦ Degree 

c/b Could be 

- Negative/Before 

+ Positive/Plus

3.Use Abbreviations

Use abbreviations that work for you. There is no right or wrong here as the ‘blank space for scribbles’ will not be marked. Abbreviations can take the form of short notes or letters...you get to be creative here!

You can also choose to keep only the essential vowels and consonants in words. Or, leave out the double consonants and silent letters. The following list contains some abbreviations for common words or phases:

Answer = answ

About = abt

Morning = am 

Afternoon = pm

As soon as possible = asap 

Before = bef/b4

Between = bt

Because = bc

Common = com

Condition = cond

Diagnosis = diag

Regular = reg

You = u

Notes = nts

To = t

Take = tk

Very = v

With respect to = wrt 

With = w/

Will be = w/b 

Within = w/i 

Without = w/o

Here are some examples of how you might use abbreviations and symbols:

Example 1

‘You should remember to take notes in classes’ 

Can be abbreviated as:

‘U shld  rmbr t tk nts in cls’

Example 2 

‘Gidon has a rare blood condition which means he visits the hospital quite regularly. Since his diagnosis, Gidon’s family paid more than ten thousand dollars just to visit the hospital. Gidon initiated a petition that advocates for lowering the fees for parking in hospitals and putting a limit on how much the hospital can charge.’

Can be abbreviated as:

  • G has rare blood condi → he  visits hosp. v. reg.

I've used G as an abbreviation for Gidon, and the arrow here represents that the stuff on the left side of the arrow (i.e. his rare blood condition), led to the events on the right side of the arrow (i.e. regular hospital visits). 

  • Since his diag. →  G’s fam paid  >$10K to visit hosp.

Here I’ve also used the arrow, indicating that the stuff on the left side of the arrow (i.e. his diagnosis), led to the events on the right side of the arrow (i.e. Gidon's family paid more than 10 thousand dollars). I’ve also used  >$10K to indicate that the amount Gidon’s family paid is more than 10 thousand dollars.

  • G → petition → advocates for  ↓ $ parking & limit how much hosp. can charge

Using my symbols and abbreviations above, it’s your turn to work out how I’ve abbreviated this ;)


I hope these tips and tricks will assist you with note taking during the EAL listening SACs and exam. If you would like more practice on the listening section, check out the following blogs!

EAL Listening Practice and Resources

EAL Listening Practice

Tips on EAL Listening

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