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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Hi, Mykael...

Boy, your story sounds like mine...except that I think you practice harder than I have...I had to interrupt my schooling and am in the process of trying to get back to work in my previous field after 4 years of court reporting school without coming close to graduating...

Allison hit it right...I believe that since the great majority of steno teachers learned the skill themselves in their late teens or early twenties, they have no real idea of the difficulty older students have learning this after age 35 or so...it IS different...

I, too, think about what I'm hearing, listen for punctuation, think of homonyms, etc. and how to write it...I have NO IDEA how to just listen and let my fingers write. People have said, "Just stop thinking." Well, that's like telling me to stop breathing. I am pretty good in English (I am the type of person who usually catches the misspellings on signs and wants to jump up and fix them). Oddly enough, although good English skills are a definite plus on the transcript production side of court reporting, I think they can be a hindrance on the steno learning part, and the older you are, the better your English skills tend to be.

I have been typing for many years, and I can certainly do that without thinking about it, but I have not yet been able to translate that same process to steno. I have been practicing slow speeds and concentrating on accuracy, which has helped, but as you noted, it takes a LONG time. I know many people swear by writing at speeds above their present ability, but for me that is extremely frustrating and makes me want to quit rather than continue. At least when I'm writing slowly, I feel some sense of success.

So, I have decided that working full-time will take care of the financial issue, and I can practice as slowly as I need to get to the end. I am also hoping to work as a scopist at some point; I have been studying that as well.

You are not alone in feeling frustrated. I suggest working at something else and pursuing court reporting part-time at your own pace, if you still want to study it.

And, Allison, I would love to know exactly how you got yourself to hear sounds. I don't use a lot of briefs (mostly because I can't remember them!) and have been trying to just hear sounds, but find I hear words or syllables rather than sounds. I posted this same question at one time, but no one was able to really answer it.
Hi, Allison...

Thank you for your very direct response to my question. I think it may help Mykael, too. I think people assume that everyone hears sounds easily, and writing faster speeds may not be helpful if you are not hearing those sounds to begin with, even at 60 wpm! You really sound like you know what I am talking about!

I have done some writing to the TV, but not a lot. Maybe just sitting and "flowing" as you have described, with no particular goal in mind except to be responsive, might help. As soon as I get back to regular practice (I am studying for my job at this point), I will try that.
Mykael, don't give up. I was stuck in 180 for quite some time and ready to give up. The advice I was given and took helped me tremendously. I will share it with you. Go back to the basics. Go back and study your theory again from the beginning. You will be surprised on what you have forgotten. Go over your phrases and briefs in your theory book and write them. After you write them, READ YOUR PAPER NOTES. That is so important. That is what got me out of my rut. I can't express it enough. Read your notes as much as you can. After class, read your notes, read, read, read. Seeing the steno outline somehow triggered it to come to mind quicker when I heard it and out of my fingers quicker and without thinking.

The other thing I would advise is to practice to tapes that are a little faster than your current speed and then listen to tapes that are slower than your current speed. Hope this helps you.

You seem to be a smart and motivated individual, one who CAN do this. You've come to the right place. There are lots of phenomenal reporters on here. As a student who is currently finishing up 180 speed and one who has learned a lot about how to practice, I think I can help you. But I'll need to find out some things first. The main thing is, and don't take this the wrong way, that practice is meaningless unless it is the right kind of practice, specifically tailored to target YOUR weaknesses.

So how do you practice? Random dictations? Anything else? Do you work on briefs and phrases at all, or write everything out? Do you know what your weaknesses are? Hesitation? Thinking of a brief? Dropping? Accuracy? Daydreaming? Finger dexterity and hitting the keys? Once you have isolated the problem/s, you will know how to proceed. Let me know and I am sure I will have good advice for you. If you don't know what the problem is, then really try to analyze yourself when you are taking a test and see if you freeze up, or what you do, and read your notes and see if you are dropping, or just not accurate, or what.

Also, what is your theory? Do you like it? Do you ever change or just use it the way it is? I learned Sten Ed and didn't like it a lot of things about it. I wanted to shorten my writing and change things a lot. So in 100 speed, I got the Stenomaster book and learned that. Best thing I ever did. It made so much more sense to me, and Mark Kislingbury is the best. We are on the same wavelength whereas i was not with Sten Ed. Different things work for different people, and if you are using the wrong theory, that could be your whole problem!

I definitely encourage you to never quit! You will get it. In the meantime, though, I would encourage you to investigate other schooling options. As a man, I am sure you know that there comes a time when one should SCRUTINIZE THE COACH and not the team players, especially when the team does everything the coach asks without seeing measurable improvement in overall performance. If I were you, I would definitely find a different school or steno program.

Likewise, I would definitely start critiquing my current writing theory. For me personally, I started out with Phoenix theory, but eventually, I found this theory to be way too stroke intensive. After reading many encouraging posts about Mark Kislingbury's theory and how he has a system that allows you to improve your current theory and make it less stroke intensive, I decided to purchase the Stenomaster Theory and ultimately his Magnum Steno book. Also, I became a member of his Magnum Steno Club for $30 a month (It has been the best money I have ever spent and probably the cheapest tuition I have ever paid). For me, it made all of the difference in the world. CSRNation has a group named Magnum Steno Club, and I would encourage you to check it out. If you like that, go to his web site and take advantage of his free trial one-week membership in his club. He has many videos archived which you can review, and these videos include both dictation, instructional, and phrase/brief videos.

Also, I would encourage you to contact Tami who is a member of the CSRNation's Magnum Steno Group/Club. She coached her son, Clay Frazier, with the Stenomaster theory, and if I remember correctly, he went from 0 to 225 well within two years. I even think he went from 0 to 180 in something like 8 months. I know she would be more than happy to share with you what worked for her and her son.

Gary Bearden
Well, Gary, it wasn't that fast, but I appreciate your confidence in us. :)

He did qualify to take the CA CSR a month before the two-year mark from the point he started "mom" theory. He went to a school, Cypress College, with very high standards, machine and academics. He was not allowed to take the CSR until the following Fall (after qualifying on the machine) because he needed additional academic classes to be completed, even though he had doubled and tripled up on classes in an effort to keep them up with his machine speed.

So from the point that he started the Stenomaster theory with me (May of '06), three months every day coming to my work at lunchtime (and beyond), he took the CA CSR two-and-a-half years later. Some have done it quicker, but he came out of school extremely prepared as far as speed and the ability to provide realtime right out of school, which is extremely rare, in my opinion.

I think what you're thinking about as far as the eight-month number, we attended Mark Kislingbury's bootcamp in L.A. in Dec. of '06. He had just passed his 90 wpm at school. The bootcamp/Mark lit a fire in him. While I thought he'd ditch me by the second hour and go off skateboarding, his first love, he stayed completely enthralled for the entire day and a half and went back to school the following month (after the holiday break) with this new motivation to succeed.

While he hates that I ever told the story in the first place, the following July '07, he passed a one-minute 200 test at school. He humbly says it was a really slow minute, but we happened to be at the Texas NCRA convention when his girlfriend called him with the news, so of course I told everyone I ran into and just embarrassed him to death.

While most would agree it's a benefit to have a mom provide you with such a great start, it's not always been easy for him, I'm sure, and he's just put up with me. He went through school in a fishbowl pretty much, but I don't think there's a person out there who's heard the story that doesn't know how much I love that boy and how proud I am of him!!

I appreciate you elaborating on the story. It is so encouraging to hear that it can be still be done in two years. As a matter of fact, your sharing that story really was what stimulated me to abandon the Phoenix "Kool-Aid" indoctrination and seek better ways. And I am so thankful that I did now. I still can't imagine how anybody could get to CSR speeds with Pheonix and have the ability to do it day in and day out. It is just so stroke intensive, and I have to admit that I am now a write-short addict. Personally, my speed has dramatically improved, but more importantly, so has my writing comfort. I have been a medical transcriptionist for 20+ years and began steno as a way of prolonging my career after having carpal tunnel syndrome/surgery and also a way to increase my production. Now, I even think that I will sit for the RPR within the next 12 months.

So thanks again for sharing your story and I really hope you continue to do so. It so needs to be heard by those who are brainwashed (like I was) that one should write everything out. I have even read their mantra which is something like, "The longer you write, the longer you write." I just don't buy that thinking anymore, and I am so grateful to people like you, Erik, and the many others who so freely discussed Mark Kislingbury's theory on the depoman web site.

Gary Bearden
You're welcome, Gary. Thank you for being so kind!!

Yes, I have been quite vocal about the two subjects, writing short (and fast) the Mark K. way and my complete dislike for Phoenix. It makes my day when a student and/or reporter tells me I started them thinking about the way they write and how it affects their future.

I've always said there's no doubt you can get to 200, even 225 on Phoenix and pass the state and national tests, but I honestly feel if you don't slice and dice on it, every day of your working life will be a frantic struggle to keep the record, and probably one that relies on audio. I personally would not want that job. I've always said it just doesn't have to be that hard.

You nailed it, Gary, when you referred to "writing comfort."

I really believe the happiest reporters are the ones that are trying to improve their writing skills every day, their realtime and editing skills, etc., and consequently those are the reporters who find themselves being more valuable to this wonderful profession, and most are rewarded for it monetarily.

Since I always try to encourage and not discourage students in their endeavor to become reporters, I have to add that I have students I've worked with who have successfully incorporated Mark's theory and writing philosophy into their Phoenix theories. One just took the CA CSR, and I recently heard she feels great about the test.

She signed up with The Club on magnumsteno.com -- she sat out with me this spring, and I wouldn't let her leave my office until she promised me she'd sign up the next day :) -- and she passed her qualifier within two weeks thereafter. She said our "talk" six months prior to that day had started her on her journey to write short, so her hands were already calm and smooth the day she sat out with me. I knew she just needed to join The Club and she'd get over the "qualifier" hump.

I'm so happy to hear you're a "write-short addict," Gary. I think Mark recently referred to it in our Magnum Steno Fan Club here on CSRnation as suffering from WSS, (Write Short Syndrome). He said it's a good thing to have, and you know I can't agree more.

Keep me posted on that RPR. You can do it!!!

Happy Writing Short!!!

I am one of those students who has deconstructed her Phoenix Theory and has learned to steal, beg and borrow from every source that makes sense. I just signed up for Realtime Coach today, and can't wait to test the Lightspeed at the CA convention in Palm Springs. I also recently obtained a mentor, and I know you also highly recommend this of students who need a go-to person, day or night.
I've also looked at other sources of education, as I feel I've gone as far as I can at the school I was attending. I strongly suggest that there is not one cookie-cutter way of getting through school; nor is there only one way to get qualified to take the CSR. You just have to want the answers bad enough to put yourself out there and ask the questions. Who cares if you appear foolish? That one answer you get from someone kind enough to answer might be the key to open your mind and unlock your path to success. I know it was for me, which is why I read everything you write on this forum.

All these informative recommendations are outstanding. When I was working full-time w/three children and all that goes with that, I didn't make much progress and was stuck in 120s for a longer time than the other students. After getting laid off, my counselor and I improvised a study schedule that went like this: Since I went to day school, every day from 7pm to 10 pm was machine practice with tapes - a slow speed, then current speed, then fast speed, then back down to current, ending with the slow speed. I used a transcription tape machine as well as a regular tape player with my practice session. It was easy to push on the pedal and backspace when I got to a rough spot. Also, go to school every day and attend all classes. Type all tests, even the ugly ones. Go over tests to see where I was making the same mistakes and review those until I improved. Within 7 weeks, I moved past 120, 130, 140, 150, and went to the 160s where it took another 8 weeks to move on to the 170s. I stayed 2 weeks there and went on to the 180s. I have to work hard to make any effort, and if I could do it, you can too.
I was a reporter for ten years - with RPR. I started practicing again in January. I am now doing 200 Q&A.
Even I am going to take your advice!!!
Dear Mr. Cuadras,

I am a 225-student in Arlington, Texas. It has been six years for me to get where I am now, I have gained some pounds and lost some hair, I always say that with a smile on my face. Anywho, try finger drills, try to practice some two hours a day, remember it's not about the quantity but the quality. Always practice 20 words above your speed. Well, good luck with everything and hope you will advance fast. Another thing try not to think too much of anything when you are practicing just go with the flow, sometimes you just have to let go, don't try to get perfect notes because that won't happen, I mean if that is the way you want it good, but you will just be stuck where you are at, oh yeah and also once in a while when you are about to test get mad, I mean really mad and be like you know what I am tired and I am going to pass this test.. Well good luck



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