If you’re a stenography student, whether just starting or in your final term, there’s a test or two standing between you and your new career as a court reporter, close captioning specialist or CART provider. Even after graduation, successfully passing tests for various certifications can help further propel your career. The Stenotype Institute, Florida’s top court reporting school, offers tips for acing your next court reporting exam.
For graduation from the Stenotype Institute students must successfully meet set requirements for certification in Basic Machine Shorthand via multiple tests. They include:
- Literary: Three five-minute tests at 180 wpm with a minimum of 95.0 percent accuracy.
- Jury Charge: Three five-minute tests at 200 wpm with a minimum of 95.0 percent accuracy.
- Testimony: Three five-minute tests at 225 wpm with a minimum of 95.0 percent accuracy.
- Four-Voice Testimony: Five sessions per semester transcribed beginning at 140 wpm.
The nature of court reporting and stenography training is not such that you can cram the night before. Instead, it’s simply a matter of proving that you have adequately developed your speed and skills through months of hands-on practice. Assuming you’ve kept on track with your practice, these tips should help boost your chances of a top score:
- Practice steadily in the weeks and days approaching your exam. Aim for a speed that’s higher than what you need to pass the test. If you can beat it on a practice day, you’re sure to at least meet it on test day.
- Counter to what might seem best, don’t practice like mad the night before. Instead, take a break or do just a light drill or two. This ensures you’ll go into your test with a fresh, rested and de-stressed mindset.
- Read over your briefs, phrases and any trouble words, to keep your mind in a steno mode even while your fingers take a break.
- The day before your test, get your supply pack ready. Make a checklist and double check to be sure you have all you need including your paper, charger, batteries and/or power cord, etc. And barring an emergency that necessitates it, don’t bust out brand new equipment on test day. No, the novelty of a shiny, just-out-of-the-box steno machine won’t magically make you faster or more accurate. It’ll make you unsure, uncomfortable and, very likely, unsuccessful.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Go to bed a little early and wake up in time to get to class early. This will give you a few minutes to relax, do a few warm-up arm and finger exercises, and get focused on the task at hand.
- Keep your daily routine. Get that same cup of coffee or fruit smoothie you get every morning. Any significant change can knock you off kilter.
As they say, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” So be sure you’re prepared and consider every test an opportunity to strut your stuff and boost your chances for a meaningful and lucrative career.