I am a student in 100 speeds. I have been in the speed for the past two year and thinking about quitting since i can't get past such a low speed. I practice twice as much as other students and I'm getting frustrated which doesn't help either. Only option I see is to quit and look for another career.

As a last resort, does anyone have any tips or tricks to help me get out of a speed? The teachers I asked advice said I'm doing everything right. Baby steps are taking to long and I can't continue like this. It will take several years to get through this program and I've already been in for four years.

Desperate student

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If you have the chance to learn one theory out of the chute, learn Stenomaster. You won't be sorry, and you won't have to unlearn anything to build your speed.
Well, Sono, I think you obviously have to do what you have to do, but trying to blend two theories while still in theory is going to be tough. My advice would be to learn the theory being taught, if that's your only option. If you think you're not getting it, the P theory, before you quit completely, know there's an easier route to take.

As soon as you think you're writing strong enough, accurate enough, and your teacher is no longer looking at your notes, which probably is when you're out of theory, I think that would be the time to start slowly incorporating a shorter, more efficient writing style. Maybe it would help by thinking about new concepts you incorporate as advanced theory principles??

To answer the question about theories and which are best, I can just tell you that I think StenEd is a very basic theory that just begs to be shortened. It seems like I hear it getting longer by the decade, though. I just honestly feel nothing compares to the Stenomaster/Magnum Steno theory/principles/teachings.

That's why when my son decided to become a court reporter I taught him the Stenomaster theory -- three months -- and then he went off to a J.C. here in CA to finish out his schooling. His school never questioned his theory beginnings, although I'm sure he raised some eyebrows at the beginning.

Well, I take that back. The program director who taught theory wanted him to go to theory class when he enrolled in the school. He made it a couple days (doing his own thing), was bored out of his mind, and asked to take the challenge test at 60 wpm, which he passed with flying colors.

I know most future CRs don't have moms that will teach them theory, so, back on point, I think you should start with an open mind, do the best you can, and at least you have the knowledge that if it isn't working, you have other options -- even if you have to create those options.

I was hurrying to a courtroom to cover a quick motion last Friday, machine in hand. I ran into the public elevator, and a woman says, "That's what I'm going to school for (pointing to my machine). I'm here to see if I can observe on Monday."

I said, "Why wait until Monday?? Follow me!"

So, anyway, she shares an interesting story with me.

She's in Theory II in the school in the county I work, Riverside County. She started Theory I (Phoenix) in January. At the end of Theory I, she said something like 15 out of 20 didn't pass, so the school gave those students the option of continuing with Phoenix or switching to a "modified" StenEd.

She said she wasn't getting it, so she made the switch and was really happy she did.

When I heard that the school was contemplating switching theories from a modified StenEd to Phoenix a couple years back, I personally went down to the school, took a Stenomaster CD, and asked them to consider switching to Stenomaster theory instead. I also told them that if they would not consider switching to Stenomaster, then at the very least I asked them to consider not switching theories at all. Obviously that was a complete waste of time for me.

But . . . here they are now switching back to their "modified" StenEd and ditching Phoenix. So take that for whatever you think it's worth. :)

Just maybe keep a couple thoughts in the back of your head while going through theory:

If it seems like it's taking a lot of strokes/letters to write a word, it is. (Even single syllable words)

If you question why you have to come back for an -ed, -ing, -s,-es in a separate stroke, you're right on for questioning it. (StenEd is guilty of this too.)

(Tip: You have a final -S right under a final -T, and it works just fine for making words ending with -T plural.)

If you think writing silent letters is CRAZY, you're not crazy. It's completely unnecessary. (In Phoenix "bomb" is two strokes. They write the silent -B. When you add on the inflected endings, it's three.)

Make sure your machine has wide keys -- -DZ and *.

Words like "you" can be a simple U, not YOU (KWROU). It's easy and clear and enables phrasing opportunities galore.

Don't get me started on the SCHWA sound and other concepts I just have to say "HUH??"

The author of Phoenix, in my opinion, switched around long-standing writing principles which I could only assume would be for the purpose of calling it her own. Again, that's only my opinion.

On a positive note for you, Sono, there are students who have flown through school with Phoenix -- with flying fingers. It's not unheard of. I personally feel they have little room to grow after reaching graduation speed, though -- unless they do a major slice and dice on their theory.

I feel this job is just way too tough with only graduation speed. Every day will be a struggle for you if you stay true to a stroke-intensive theory.

I write short -- keep getting shorter by the day -- and I think writing on that little machine every day is still a kick after all these years, and I started theory in 1978.

My friend Brenda today reminded me of something I used to preach a lot:

If you write a word in three or four strokes and I write the same word in one, who has the better chance of writing it clean??

I've never been a gambler, but I think that means you ( a general "you") are two or three times more likely to make an error than my simple one stroke.

I also have a lot more time to think about the right stroke. :)

Good luck to you, Sono!

Happy Writing Short!!!
Every single Phoenix writer that I know who has "flown" through school has done so because they massively deconstructed Phoenix. I know this for a fact, because I regularly text at least three of them all the time for a word or phrase that's slowing me down. None of their suggestions they share have ever come from Phoenix.
One other question, how would one edit a post? It said I had time to edit, yet I tried clicking on different things and I couldn't see a way to do this.

I agree with most of what Tami wrote in reply to you.

There are some who have completed Phoenix Theory and graduated. The problem is that inherent to Pheonix there appears to be a cap on how fast one can write. So, yes, you can reach graduation speed, but what happens when you are taking on a fast speaker and you need bursts of speeds of several minutes of 250 wpm, 300 wpm?

Of course, as you are discovering, it appears that most students find it very difficult, tedious, and extra-long time to gain speed and accuracy and understand the theory. That's why schools, some of which love to have students around a long time and repeating courses so that they can earn more money from the remaing students, have had a tendency to switch to other theories.

There were several new theories that appeared a bit over a decade ago (replacing older theories, many of which disappeared). They appeared and were written or were rewritten as they were (eg coming back for inflected endings) in order to meet the requirements of the NCRA which had come up with new rules for NCRA theory approval.

My theory, Stenograph Computer Compatible Stenograph Theory, 3rd ed, by G Allen Sonntag and Mae Glassberg, was a rewrite of the 2nd ed. It was rushed to press, and hence, there are some problems with it. But, it is used by quite a few schools to this day, and has stood the test of time. In fact, recently, several schools adopted it.

Sten Ed has been around a long time. but there have been many changes to it through the years. I can't put my finger on it, but I personally don't like it, although it shares many similarities with my theory.

A theories use both spelling and sounds to break conflicts and write words, phrases.

Most theories go in the direction of phonetics for the most part.

Phoenix theory is unusual in the degree to which it uses phonetics to write. This can be great for captioning, but frankly, Mark K. is probably the best captioner in the country. And he uses more traditional methods, and yes, he does things like tucking inflected endings whenever possible.

Another theory that came out about the same time is Realwrite/Realtime by Robert McCormick. It is extremely unusual in that it has a full syllabic keyboard on both sides of the keyboard. He uses spelling to break conflicts.

I don't know how Mark feels about Phoenix Theory. I know that for most theories, he suggests learning the theory first, and then gradually mixing his theory in where it is better, or makes more sense, or is more comfortable.

My opinion, if you can, drop Phoenix Theory. Stenograph CCST, 3rd ed is much cheaper than Stenomaster. You could go with it. Then, modify from there.

Or, somehow or other, get Stenomaster theory. Learn it. Once you've learned it, do the things others suggested here to build speed. And then, once you have enough speed, get Magnum Steno and start mixing in additional words, and small phrases. That's where you pick up a lot of speed.

There is a famous instructor, Kay Moody, who has successfully modified Phoenix Theory and who teaches her version in a school. But you're not Kay Moody; you don't have her background on what absolutely needs to stay (very little, what needs to be replaced - most of it, what can be replaced, and what can be added). For you to do this would be impossible.

I hope this makes some sense...

Mark, please help out here...
Well, I completely disagree with Gary as far as learning Stenograph CCST because it is "cheaper," but I don't think that's even an option for you anyway, Sono.

I have the CCST theory book in my office. I personally think it's okay, but there are many things that I think are lacking, and, honestly, I don't think the few bucks difference should even come into play. Mine actually cost me a bottle of wine to one of the clerks at work who dropped out of school trying to learn the theory. She gave it to me for free actually, and the wine was just my gesture of gratitude.

I think you made a great investment by buying the Stenomaster theory package, but if you are set on learning the Phoenix theory, which to me it was very clear you were, then I'd try my best not to juggle two theories at once. Devote your time to school, the instructor, and pass your theory. Then, when you're doing the things I listed earlier, start cracking the SM book(s).

I think anybody would tell you I -- hate to use "hate," but I have a very low tolerance for Phoenix, and I steer away every potential student I can, but, if that's your only option, I just don't want you to feel like your CR future is hopeless right out of the chute.

I remember a student openly blasting me on this forum for her perception that I was taking away hope -- I guess I need to go back and re-read exactly what was said -- and I never want to be accused of that again. That definitely is not my intention.

As a student said earlier on this thread, I think, I guess if you want to eat an elephant . . . :)
I think the Fast Track book is a great resource, too. I did, however, find that when I was using it as instructed, I was spending 10% of my time writing and 90% resetting a metronome and recording stats. After I chucked the metronome and pencil and started smacking Post-its on pages that were difficult for me, I found myself at a 99% to 1% ratio.
Sono, I don't think the edit feature is working. I now have a "was was" in my last comment that, apparently, will remain there for posterity.
Thanks, Tami, Aleece, Gary, and Monica! I am thrilled and overwhelmed by the outpouring of helpful information and support, I've already received. I've printed up all the comments so that I can absorb them all.

I am sorry that I didn't come here earlier as there's so much real and honest information here. I have to thank Glen for his "Cheap & Sleazy" site because that's what led me to this website and also, Depoman, which also has been very helpful.

I am convinced now that Phoenix is an inferior theory, but I'm in a bit of a bind because I can't withdraw from my theory classes now for a few reasons: 1) Money (I can't withdraw this late and I'm getting financial aid which requires a certain number of credits per semester and it also requires being enrolled in a program); 2) the certificate program I'm in requires that I take the theory classes and I need to take them to proceed in this program which I'd like to because they offer a nice full program which includes an internship; and 3) I feel more comfortable with a little bit of support.

I wish Mark had a theory course with full support where one could transfer after that if he doesn't want to get involved in the rest of the classes (Legal Terminology, Medical Terminology, etc.). Since he doesn't, there aren't too many options for students who would like to learn his theory from scratch (or are there?). Or I wish Tami could be my teacher for the theory portion!!!

The Court Reporting at Home program is too expensive for me (without financial aid), plus I really prefer a classroom setting even if it is an online one.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), I was laid off and have all my time to spend as I wish so hopefully with the disadvantages I'm facing, I can overcompensate by working hard and immersing myself in my efforts.

I do feel hesitant to totally throw myself into Phoenix theory because I'm afraid it will stick and leave with habits that may be difficult to break. Do you think it's possible for me to learn Stenomaster by myself with the Stenomaster books and disks I bought and then take only what's useful from my class? There's got to be something I can take from it, right? ;)

If I feel this course isn't working for me, I will look into alternatives regardless of money (within reason, of course).

I found all your comments very interesting even though I didn't totally understand everything since I haven't taken any theory yet. I'm sure once I get into theory things will be much clearer.

I'm glad I got all this info ahead of time, because I'd hate to be at the end of my first or second year finding this all out. I'm so grateful that you all are honest with me and I still feel hopeful that I can do this or find a way to make it work!


I wish I could teach you the theory too!!

My son came to my office during my lunch hour and a half every day for three months. Some days I was shocked when he knocked on my door, as the day before ended rough -- like he would be watching skateboard videos when I returned from court when he was supposed to be writing the lesson we had just gone over at lunch. HA!

I just told him I'd be here tomorrow if he chose to return. He came back every day. Kind of shocked me because he was a C student at best in high school, and the only passion during those years was his skateboarding. (He is a very accomplished skateboarder.) I knew if I could ever get half of that passion crossed over to court reporting, he'd make it.

He was on the honor roll, dean's list, the whole time in college, worked so diligently. I was amazed -- especially intimately knowing his lackluster response to learning throughout his high school years.

I'd love to think you'd have a theory teacher that would/could work with you juggling the two theories, but I honestly think it's impossible.

Could you just do the academics this quarter and attempt Stenomaster theory on your own??

There is a reporter on this site who did just that. She taught herself the theory, signed up with Simply Steno, and she's now reporting, and I believe she did that in three years or less. I probably already told you that, but it is something to consider.

Cassie, I definitely agree that GREAT realtime is our only future, and I hope you keep preaching that one.

There have been students successfully get through school after being stuck for years at a certain speed. Would you or I have had the patience to do that??

Probably not.

I recently told the story in the student section that I went to school with a reporter who took eight years to get out -- she started well before me and got out well past me. I don't believe she ever quit and came back. It was a second career for her, her first being a school teacher. She went on to become our local CR chapter president -- the old IICRA, if anyone out there remembers it -- and she was just a terrific person and a wonderful leader, and I definitely admired her for never giving up, which is usually what it takes to be successful in this field.
Wow. Everyone on here is so nice and encouraging, but I feel I need to be real with you... Honestly, if you have been stuck at your 100s for two years (assuming you weren't exaggerating) court reporting is not the career for you. Granted, I was only in school for about 18 months, but not a single student at my school who lingered too long at a speed actually finished. Besides that, being stuck at 100 is not the same as being stuck at 180. I quit school a couple weeks into my 180s and still passed the RPR on my first try, with just a few years of work under my belt.

The truth is, court reporting school is frustrating, but I can imagine it is even more frustrating to suffer in school for years and years without considering any other options, only to ultimately have to find a new career anyway.

Maybe I am wrong about this one, too, but it seems to me that the only hope for a future for court reporters (five or ten years down the line, *fingers crossed*) is going to be realtime in some capacity, and that is going to knock a lot of reporters out of the running altogether, since many reporters who CAN get their speed up will never go on to perfect their realtime enough.

I am going to try to learn Stenomaster Theory, though I do have to take my theory classes and get a certain grade. I'll try to block out Phoenix. I'm also wondering if I can speak privately with my teacher of my wishes and intentions. Maybe she can help me with my issues knowing that I'm going on a different path. I'll tread lightly on this though. Since I haven't taken any theory yet, I don't really know what is possible for me. I think once I'm in the class for several weeks, I'll have a better idea.

If I could learn Stenomaster on my own and then continue the rest of the courses at my school, I would certainly do that. I think these schools need to generate money and the theory courses comprise a substantial percentage of the certificate program. Plus, knowing that 10% or less succeed, it's in their best interest to have students take as many courses as possible, as their not really having all these successful graduates to boast of. Anyway, basically what I'm saying is that I don't want to take Phoenix, but I kind of have to to remain in the program.

I have so many ideas in my mind from dropping out completely and learning Stenomaster on my own and then transferring or joining Simly Steno (as Tami mentioned some did successfully); stay and try to either disregard Phoenix or modify the heck out of it (though as a new student, this will be difficult to do on my own); switch to a different school completely asap (but, then again, what school? No school teaches Stenomaster Theory, so would I be in the same predicament if I were at a school that taught Sten-Ed or Realtime or is it just that Phoenix is just the worst...). Right now, quitting completely is not an option -- I really want to do this and in the best way possible!

Everyone here has been so helpful and has given me so much valuable information that I can use to make decisions. I love your interesting and descriptive anecdotes, Tami -- they really help to illustrate what can be done and has been done.

Oh, I just noticed -- there is a "Tami" and a "Tami Carlson" - 2 different people?

Thanks to all -- I am keeping all the information I've received and am going through it and will continue to until I know what I'm doing!



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