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TOEFL listening: Note taking and answering strategies


In this lesson, you learn how to take notes that you can use to answer the questions. To quickly refer back to the notes, you need to be able to divide a lecture into paragraphs. Dividing a lecture into paragraphs is critical for two reasons:

  1. One question is based on one paragraph

  2. The questions are usually in the order of the paragraphs.


There usually are 6 questions, so you should aim for chunking the paragraphs into 6 paragraphs. 

So how should we divide a lecture into paragraphs? When the professor is talking about a topic that is quite different from the previous one, you should  separate the two. To signal that a chunk of ideas comes from the same paragraph, use P1, P2, P3 and so on as the head.  By writing down the main points using a paragraph number, you can easily refer back to your notes if you don’t remember some details that occur in the option choices. Under each heading, aim to wire down at least 3 details.

This is the lecture we will work on today. Try to divide the lecture  into 6 paragraphs and answer the following questions (The following questions are different from the ones in the video):


1. What does the professor mainly discuss? 

  1. The significance of a dating technique when studying the formation of geological structures 

  2. The age differences between Appalachian mountains and mountains close to the Grand   Canyon

  3. The importance of the Grand Canyon when studying the formation of geological structures 

  4. The comparison of the various uranium-lead dating techniques   

2. What is the new, revolutionary theory about the Grand Canyon about?

  1. the material constituents of the Grand Canyon 

  2. the age of the Grand Canyon

  3. the origin of the sand that composes the Grand Canyon

  4. the relationship of the Grand Canyon and the continents breaking apart

3. According to the lecture, which is the order of the sequence of the uranium-lead dating method that helped the two geologists determine the age of the Grand Canyon. 

  1. Measure the amount of lead in the Grand Canyon sample to determine the age of the Grand Canyon

  2. Measure the amount of lead in the samples of the mountain ranges to determine the age of the mountains

  3. Look for the mountain ranges whose age is the same as that of the Grand Canyon.

4. The professor in the lecture explains why the uranium-lead dating method was not popular in the past. Which one of the following factors is not the reason?

  1. number of sample data needed for the test

  2. time it took to access the result

  3. accuracy of the result

  4. danger of handling radioactive material

5. Why does the professor talk about the breaking apart of Earth's continents?

  1. to illustrate a revolutionary theory in geology that has been rejected by most geologists due to the result obtained from the uranium-lead dating

  2. to explain how the dating method discussed in the lecture can be used to test the idea of the breaking apart of Earth's continents 

  3. To explain the possibility that the uranium-lead dating can finally shed light on the relationship between the Grand Canyon and the present condition of the Earth's continents

  4.  to illustrate how the  the uranium-lead dating method was possible thanks to the molten magma, produced to the  breaking apart of Earth's continents 

6.  What does the professor imply when he says this "Well, as everyone in this class should know” (audio 2:21)

  1. The class is easier than other geology classes

  2. The class has already studied the information he is discussing

  3. Some students should take a course in geological dating techniques

  4. He will discuss the topic later in the class

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