Actually, Shameeka, this is a serious response, no matter what speed you're currently at or striving for. When I was in school (oh, so long ago ...) and I was stuck on a speed, it was time to practice, practice, practice ... until Friday, the end of the week, when I would otherwise spend the entire weekend practing. To get over the hump, instead of going full throttle, I just packed up my machine on Friday night and set my sights on a gin & tonic (or 2 ... or 3), made a big pan of lasagne, invited some friends over and didn't give a second thought to court reporting, the machine, brief forms, conflicts, or anything else reporting related until it was time to go back to school on Monday morning. Take a break! By the way, I passed my 180s on a 4-voice test using that method of relaxation.
Shameeka, I think that Mary Ann has offered VERY sound advice. You have to take time to relax and enjoy life. You don't want to burn yourself out before you take your first job! And remember, you've simply hit a plateau. You will get past it. Don't obsess over it to the point that you're self-destructing come test time.
I'm not in speed yet, but I know from my current practicing; which is at 30, 40 and 50 wpm, I cannot seem to get to 50 wpm without my tape looking like a train wreck! My instructor reads children's books to us. Have you tried something with easy, one-stroke words? That might help to build your speed and confidence. It has helped me, and gave me a little confidence boost! Hope to hear more on your progress, and good luck!
I got stuck at a speed for 6 months and was a gibbering wreck at each test because I so wanted to pass and not make mistakes. I kind of gave up hope of ever passing the next speed. I realised after a while that it was my fear of making mistakes, and my panicking over these mistakes, as the dictation continued without me, that was stopping me from passing. I was concentrating so hard on the mistake I had just made that I wasn't listening to the dictation. Just drop it and move on. You'll have gaps but when you read back you'll see that right before that gap are the words that slowed you down. Either bash out something vaguely resembling the problem words or skip it and keep up with the dictation. For me it was a matter of learning not to panic.
When I was in the low speeds, our school had us practice tapes that were just above our goal speed, and we'd have to keep taking the same tape until we could write it perfectly. When we first started a new tape, we'd think it was impossible, but each time we went through it, it became easier and easier until pretty soon we'd nail it.
I had wonderful teachers who from theory made me feel comfortable with using briefs and phrases, so when I was trying to conquer a tape, if there were common words that were difficult to write that were holding me up, I'd figure out the brief form and start using it.
I never practiced a speed lower than what I had already passed out of, and while many reporters swear by finger drills, I never did them.
Speed is gained two ways: by increasing your hand speed AND writing shorter, i.e., using briefs and phrases.
On my (cheap and sleazy) website is a set of archives from the various incarnations of Court Reporting Help.com. One of those contains two articles: How to Take a Test, and How to Grade a Test.
To use them, dig out a few of your old tests that you missed passing (hate to say "failed!"). Analyze those notes using the method in the How to Grade a Test article ... and then design a practice regimen designed to correct whatever types of errors you found during your analysis.
Another thing you can do if you have access to some old copies of the JCR, look through them for speed contests.
Set your CAT software up so that you can steno into another application, like, say, WordPad or NotePad.
Steno that contest you found at any speed you wish; you're going for accuracy at this point.
Once you've got it all done, turn off the "Steno into Applications" feature of your CAT software, save the WordPad file as a .txt file, and then open it with The Drill Machine. Adjust the font size, color, and speed, and steno along with the Drill Machine at a nice, slow speed.
You can either go through the whole thing, or work on one paragraph at a time. Either way you do it, once you go through whatever you're working on with an acceptable number of errors (you know ... 1, 2 ... maybe 3), increase the speed, and go through it again.
If you see any briefs in the speed test you're working with, make sure they appear in the WordPad/NotePad document like so:
Also ensure that each line ends with a space. Otherwise, the Drill Machine will skip the first word on the next line!
Your ultimate goal is to be able to do that whole speed test at a speed above the speed you're testing for.