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3 steps for taking better notes for the interview

When I’m conducting interviews, I always observe candidates’ interview strategies. I guess this is just natural for an examiner. While there aren’t too many strategies to use besides the basic preparation of practicing longer responses with some cohesive markers and academic vocabulary, there is one particular aspect of the interview where candidates can use a strategy that works in their favor.

After the initial 4-5 minute part in which the examiner asks basic questions about general topics, the candidate has one minute to prepare a 2-minute monologue. The one minute starts as soon as the candidate receives the topic and the examiner reads it out. You wouldn’t imagine how strategies differ among candidates when it come to using the one minute effectively. Some candidates will look at the topic wasting precious seconds (remember, you only have 60 of them) while others start taking notes immediately (surely the better strategy). I’ve even sen candidates opting not to take any notes at all as they think they can just talk for two minutes without notes until they realize how long two minutes actually are (this is usually the worst strategy).

When it comes to taking notes, there are different methods to use. The less effective method is to write full sentences as there simply isn’t enough time to write down enough. Additionally, reading off your notes will not get you a good score.

Using short phrases and keywords is a much better method, but the most important thing is how to organize the phrases and keywords.

Here are some useful steps to effective note taking for the IELTS interview:

 1. Read the topic

Make sure you understand it and quickly make a decision what you will talk about

2. Write fast

You only have one minute for this, so literally every second counts (practice fast note taking before the interview and time yourself)

3. Organize your notes

This really is the key point here. You need to organize your notes in a way that lets you follow them like a map.

Some candidates will write down the words:



An even more effective way (and I recommend this most) is to use what is known as mindmapping:

About Ian

Ian is an experienced IELTS teacher trying to help people achieve better scores on the IELTS test.

One comment

  1. Sir,

    I am planning to take IELTS for studying in germany. Could you please assist me to get good band in IELTS. I want to know how to perform well in the test and also fluency in our slang is required or not otherwise they looking for content what we are speaking.

    Anticipating your positive response

    Thanking you,