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



Suppose you are doing great on a dictation.  You are writing clean.  You are only a few words behind and feeling comfortable.  You are doing wonderful.

Now suppose the dictator begins to say the phrase “ladies and gentlemen.”

You are caught up.  You haven’t heard the full phrase yet.  You can’t be sure that the phrase will be said.  What do you do?

Choice One is to stop stroking and hope that the phrase will be said.  If it is said, then you have lost nothing but your rhythm.  If it isn’t said, then you have put yourself in a deep hole for no good reason.

Choice Two is to do what you were taught from Day One and stroke the words that are in front of you at that moment.  If the phrase is said, then you have lost nothing by stroking out the words individually.  If the phrase isn’t said, then you have avoided a nasty trap.

Everybody in the stenographic world loves the “ladies and gentlemen” phrase.  It’s wonderful.   It’s an easy way to get credit for three words with one stroke.

“Ladies and gentlemen” is the poster boy for how to misuse phrases.  Everyone knows the phrase, but not everyone knows the briefs for the individual words.  When this phrase is dictated, especially in the beginning of a dictation, too many of us pause and wait to hear the phrase.  That’s bad news all around.

Here are two basic rules that everyone should follow:

1  Learn the briefs for the individual words before you learn the phrases.

2 Never pause or hesitate.  Either write the outline in front of you, or drop the word and write the next one.

Barb DeWitt

Kennewick, Washington