Barb DeWitt and Test Analysis

The following is an excerpt from an article by Barb DeWitt

There are two ways to pass a test.  One is to raise your level of competence.  Do that, and eventually you will be a professional.  The other way to pass is to wait until an easy test comes along.  Do that, and you will experience frustration every step of the way.

Waiting for the perfect test is self-defeating.  It is true that some tests are harder than others, but you should prepare yourself to pass any test.  If you somehow do make through school and go for your qualification exam, you will not be fully prepared.  You will still be looking for an easy test.  You will have a rough time passing the state or national exam.  Those tests are not cakewalks.  They are designed to admit only qualified students to the ranks of the professionals.  You will wait a long time for an easy certification test to come along.  They are designed to be passed by those who are writing a nice solid 225.

One student came to me recently and showed me her test.  She had come close, but she was a little bit over the amount of errors allowed.  I analyzed the test for her and discovered that she could have passed it.  There were some sloppy strokes that hurt her score.  There was one time that she carried too much.  I also pointed out that she had a few non-steno errors that she could have avoided.  In the end, I told her that she should take that test as a good sign.  She was close.

She looked at me and said, “Yes, but it will be a whole year before you can give that test to our class again.”

She recognized that she let an opportunity slip by, but she was focused on passing tests rather than improving her skills.  She was disheartened because she felt that it would be a long time before she had another opportunity at that test.

I was happy with the results of that test.  It was the best she had done in a while.  On the other hand, I was thoroughly discouraged that she believed that she was only going to make it to the next class if I gave her another easy test.  I spent a good amount of time explaining what I meant, but I don’t think I reached her.  I expect that next week she will again be waiting for a simple test.

That’s too bad.  She is one of the fastest writers in the school.  She is at least two speeds below where she should be.  With her speed, she could be one of the best in our profession.  Her future is bright if she concentrates on the aspects that need improvement.

But I know that she has considered dropping out of school due to her lack of progress.  I hope she won’t.  I hope that she takes my little talk to heart and begins improving.  I hope she turns things around.

I hope.

Barb by the lake

Benchmarking your Steno Progress

My score on Angry Zombie Bird Farm is always above 1,250,000 on Level One.

My weight has been 165 since high school.

Graph going up

I’m going up, up, up.

My checking account low-balance alarm goes off if the balance drops below $500.

As long as my weight doesn’t rise above 165, my score doesn’t drop below 1.25 million and my checking account remains above $500, I am doing fine.

Those three things are examples of benchmarks.  We can adapt and use them effectively in our stenographic journey to court reporting success.

How?  Well, brown cow, I’ll show you how — now.

Take any drill.  Do it.  Count the errors.  Do it again.

Did your score improve?  If not, why not.  There will rarely be a dramatic increase, but there should be an improvement.

Try something different with the drill.  Do it slower.  Do it faster.  Create a list of terms from the drill and practice them.  Do a different drill to regain clarity, speed, etc.

Then do the first drill once again.  Did your score improve?  Hooray, if it did.  If it did not, then you still have adjustments to make.

Your drills should be helping you.  If you aren’t seeing improvement, then you should adjust the way you practice.

In coming posts, I’ll present different ways to benchmark or assess your progress.

Steve Shastay

The Steno Rebel