Treat your homework practice session like it is a job or a date. If you schedule a time to practice each day, you are more likely to fulfill that commitment. You wouldn’t miss your job or a date, so don’t miss your practice session.
Court reporting instructors offer some unique tips to help you stay on track and reach your goals.
- Pretend everything is a test, even when you are in class practicing. Take it all seriously. Use the same level of concentration and energy that you use on a test on your practice to get the most out of it. This will also help to reduce test anxiety plus enhance your daily practice.
- Practice numbers. Virtually all testimony will begin with addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, etc.
- Practice proper names. Purchase a book of popular baby names, and have someone read them to you as you write the names. (This will be a handy reference source for transcription.)
- Practice in an environment where you can totally concentrate. Be away from any type of interruptions or distractions.
- Practice occasionally with distractions (which is what class time is). Even though testing in class and for certification will be uninterrupted, that’s not how it is in the real world. This will help you work on your concentration and focus.
- Reward yourself if you have been practicing faithfully and you pass a take or a test. Do something special. Set those goals, strive for them, and reward yourself when you reach them.
- Practice the words you missed (again, you see what those words are when you listen to the tape the second time). Then play the tape again to the spot where you started having trouble with those words. After you have practiced them for a while, you should be able to write through them and go farther on the tape.
- Set up your machine as soon as you get home. It will be a constant reminder to practice. As you write faster speeds, practice as you watch TV or listen to the radio.
- Review old material every day. Dig out those lists of briefs and phrases, jury charge words and phrases, months, cities, states, etc.
- Be honest about the quality of your practice and how much really is “good” practice and how much is “distracted” practice – phones ringing, people interrupting, snacks being eaten, etc. Think about the amount of time you have really practiced compared to how much time you have been on or near the machine. They usually aren’t the same!
- Set a measurable and achievable goal for each practice session. “Increase speed” is not measurable. “After practicing, I will write three one-minute segments of literary material in realtime at 100 words per minute with fewer than three errors in each minute” is a measurable, achievable goal. If you can’t achieve it and you really practiced hard, the goal was probably not reasonable.
- Look back a sentence or two when you have a drop in your notes. Was there some multistroke word, brief, or phrase that slowed you down?
- Treat your homework practice session like it is a job or a date. If you schedule a time to practice each day, you are more likely to fulfill that commitment. You wouldn’t miss your job or a date, so don’t miss your practice session.
- Pay attention to words when you practice. You have to be able to transcribe them correctly. Do you know the different meanings of “peek,” “peak,” and “pique”? Was an unfamiliar word such as “halcyon” or “panacea” used? Use Webster’s online unabridged dictionary to find the correct spelling. Vocabulary is extremely important on national and state certification tests, as well as in daily jobs.
- Subscribe to an online “word-a-day” vocabulary builder. When it appears, be sure to fingerspell it for practice. Then write the definition in steno and read it back.
This article is adapted from an one originally published in CASElines with contributions from Ann Carothers, RPR, CRI; Deb Dubuc, RPR, CRI, CPE; Erika Inglett, RPR, CRI; Cathy Penniston, RPR, CRI; Ronette Smith; Sarah Smith; and Patti Ziegler, CRI, CPE.