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Michigan TIPS, Issue #003 Effective Listening Skills
February 21, 2023

As mentioned in the last Michigan TIPS, it’s time to take a look at the third section of the listening exam which involves an expert speaking about a subject of general interest, at quite some length.

Before we actually begin, I’d like to just say that in this section of the test, you are expected to take some notes so as to remember the information for the questions later on.

Remember, that in this section of the test the speaker usually speaks for about 5-7 minutes total and the questions that follow are usually five in number.


One of the first things you should remember when it comes to note taking is that you should make your notes as short as possible but still long enough to cause you to remember what was said.

Often times, when taking notes, some students concentrate so hard on the writing of the notes that they actually miss important information form the listening exercise.

To avoid this problem I recommend my students develop the following note taking method.

First, as a general rule, when a phone number or web address or something involving numbers is mentioned in the tape, DON’T write it down immediately.

This information is generally checked by the listener and, as is often the case, there may be a mistake in understanding and a correction made by the speaker.


Speaker: Listeners can contact me by phone at 913 455 627.

Listener or interviewer: that’s 913 455 637

Speaker: No that’s 27,… 913 455 627 Listener: Oh, I see, that’s 27 not 37. Now, as you were saying…

This checking of information is important because this is where you’ll see a question later about what was said by the speaker.

Don’t get fooled into writing down the wrong information. Of course, practice will help you overcome these little listening difficulties that can rob you of valuable points.

Often times, I also advise my students to write acronyms for their notes.


To help remember something the speaker said try the following…

Speaker: After receiving my degree in engineering I spent a year in the Peace Corps working on a damn project in Africa designed to bring water to thirsty villagers.

If I were taking the test, I would write the following…

dpc1d africa thirsty villagers.

Which of course would represent Degree, Peace Corps, 1 year and damn. So instead of writing all the words, write only the first letter of the words and enough other words to help you remember the context.

One final thought, which is VERY IMPORTANT!

Read ahead in the listening! Make sure you read ahead and are prepared to answer the next question. It’s much better to miss one answer (if you get stuck) and to forget it and move on to the next and be prepared to answer it than to miss one answer and still try to answer it while the test has moved on to the next question.

Do not compound errors because one mistake can easily turn into two or three errors if you don’t forget it and move on.

READ AHEAD… if you can’t answer the question, forget it and move on to prepare for the next question.


For listening practice for this section of the test use the following links. There are many good listening exercises that are sure to help you on the listening exam.

For those tests below that don’t have questions, try listening to the exercise and then writing your own questions.

In other words, you should learn to anticipate what types of questions you’ll be asked based on the information you hear. index.aspx?d=1&_nc=633076202337044666&_nockcheck= true&_nc=633076406773079572&_nockcheck=true

I hope this has been useful and that you put my advice to good use.

Good luck on your exams!


ps. For those who need help with their essay writing, check out the following page from my site.

Essay Writing Know How!

Just click on the book cover on the above page to learn more…

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