No way around listening
In the TOEFL, you have a listening section, a speaking section, a writing section, all of which have a listening component. You are going to have to listen in each one of these sections.
In the listening section itself, it’s vital to understand that you won't see anything. You don't see the questions as you are listening to the lectures or whatever else. So it's very, very important that you take notes as you listen so that when the questions come, you have the information in front of you.
In the speaking section, you may be given a short conversation to listen to and then be given a question, and you have to speak your answer. But if you don't remember what they spoke about, then you can't answer the question properly.
Check out: TOEFL Reading and Listening Tips (Video)
In the writing section, in Task 1, you have to compare a reading section with a listening section. And then you have to write an answer comparing the two. So if you don't take notes during the listening component of Task 1, it's very difficult to write your answer.
Focus on the general idea
The first mistake people make is to try to write down every word they hear. This is impossible unless you are a stenographer. You don't need to write every word, anyway. You need to concentrate on the information that is important.
What you need to focus on are the big, general ideas. You need to understand generally what is being spoken about. For example, is it science? Is it history? Is it the arts? You need to understand the general ideas because they are not going to ask you extremely specific questions. And if they do, they will give you some information. They will give you something to listen to again or they will give you a very specific word. You don’t need to concentrate on every little detail. Stick to the big ideas.
If you would like to hear more tips, check out the video. You will learn useful techniques and get advice on what to focus on so your note-taking will be more efficient.