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

Words that end in LK

I called her Ms. Klim.  She was a transfer student from another court reporting school.  Instead of doing two strokes for the word “milk,” she would stroke the outline backwards in one stroke.  Her outline of KLIM solved a small, but irritating, problem.  I have no idea where she got this outline.   I admire whoever came up with this unique solution.

I imagine that all reporters chafe at using two strokes for any one syllable word, such as “Gwen,” “golf,” and the aforementioned “milk.”

“Milk” doesn’t show up very much.  In fact, there are comparatively few words that end in LK in the English language.   A few of them are very popular; so we definitely need easy solutions for them.  Many of the others can be briefed the same way as the popular ones.  The few remaining words are unpopular and probably should be stroked out to avoid any ambiguity as to whether the speaker really used such an unpopular word.

Let’s break it down.

There are only three really popular words:  “walk,” “talk,” and “folk.”  Luckily, these words can be easily one-stroked with WAUK, TAUK, and FOEK.  If you use different strokes, that’s fine, but your strokes should be extremely easy.

Here is the entire list of one-syllable words that end in LK:  baulk, caulk, chalk, sculk, skulk, stalk, whelk, balk, bilk, bulk, calk, folk, holk, hulk, milk, silk, sulk, talk, walk, yelk, yolk.  Many of these words are variant spellings or are very unpopular words.

Many of the one-syllable words can be briefed by using the same patterns that are used to brief “walk,” “talk,” and “folk.”  Of the ones that are left,  I would like a brief form for “milk,” “silk,” “sulk,” and “bilk.”  If I can find an easy outline (easy to remember, easy to write), then I will adopt it.  If not, then I will use a Job Brief if such terms are popular in a particular job, and otherwise, I’ll use my two-stroke outlines for the occasional occurrence.

Remember Ms. Klim?  She could write all of these words with her backward pattern:  Milk KLIM; silk KLIS, sulk KLUS and bilk KLIB.  That pattern does not work for me.  It is easy to stroke, but it is not easy to remember.  She has her solution; I have mine.

All two-syllable words that end in LK are built off of the one-syllable words.  The only two-syllable word that is popular is “sidewalk.”  That word can be easily briefed by taking your “walk” outline and putting an S in front of it.  My outline is SWAUK.

Here is the list of two-syllable words: beanstalk, boardwalk, cornstalk, crosstalk, footstalk, leafstalk, rootstalk, sleepwalk, spacewalk, townsfolk, womenfolk, cakewalk, duckwalk, eyestalk, foremilk, kinsfolk, moonwalk, overmilk, overtalk, racewalk, ropewalk, shoptalk, sidewalk, townfolk, workfolk, menfolk, catwalk, jaywalk, kinfolk, outbulk, outsulk, outtalk, outwalk, skywalk, bytalk, uptalk.

Some of these words are very rare and may not be in a normal dictionary.  An eyestalk is the part of the stalk that contains the actual eye for certain sea critters.  Foremilk is the first milk taken.  A rootstalk is a type of plant.  A duckwalk is when you, well, walk like a duck.

Learn easy outlines for “walk,” “talk,” and “folk.”  Use similar outlines for some of the less popular words.  Learn a good basic pattern to write the rest when they occasionally show up.  Learn to use a job brief when they are popular in a particular case.

And then fuggedaboutit.

Inspiration for your Perspiration (and New Year’s Resolutions)

The Man in the Arena

Theodore Roosevelt was visiting Paris in 1910 when he gave his “Citizenship in a Republic” speech

Teddy bears were named after Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy bears were named after Teddy Roosevelt

at the Sorbonne.

A short excerpt from that speech became famous as “The Man in the Arena.”  It speaks of man’s struggle to succeed.  You will recognize your personal steno school trials and tribulations.

We can’t win every battle.  Until we finally pass our tests, we will fail time and again.  But victory will be ours eventually.

……

The Man in the Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;

who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;

but who does actually strive to do the deeds;

who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,

and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,

so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.