Getting Out of 160 WPM is Like Getting Out of Del Mar During Rush Hour – Court Reporters

Driving to the Del Mar, Carmel Valley area of San Diego for a deposition can be very stressful for a court reporter, and sometimes it seems to take forever and ever to get there.  It kind of reminds me of getting out of the 140 – 160 speed in court reporting school. It seemed to take me forever and ever (six months). 

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a court reporting student who has been stuck in 140 – 160 for seven months and wants to know if I have any advice.  A lot of the students in her class have been stuck at that speed for over a year.  She asked me if I have any tips for “cleaning up” her writing.  As anyone who reads my blog knows, I went through school fast, but because of that I did not pick up very many briefs, particularly briefs for phrases.  I had preponderance of evidence (POF) which I was really proud of, but that was about it.  I still am trying to get down “to your knowledge” and “to the best of my knowledge.”  I regret not picking up the phrases and just pounding my way out of school.

My advice for the students stuck in 140 – 160, work on your briefs, particularly phrases.  If you can write three or four words in one easy stroke, you will save a tremendous amount of time and have fewer finger faults. 

I would do an analysis:  Is it jury charge that is holding me back?  Q&A?  Do I have a need for speed?  Is it Congressional?  What test(s) am I struggling with?  Once you have that answer, start focusing on what briefs are utilized in that type of test.  If it is Q&A that is stopping you from getting out of a class, that means you need to get your speed up and learn to get your mind to go blank.    I know I had a horrible time with jury charge because I did not have the briefs, and I would freeze when I heard language that sounded odd to my ear (legalese).  I was really great at Q&A because speed was my strength. 

Stay focused and passionate about becoming a court reporter.  Just like driving through Carmel Valley, it might take me a while to get up the freeway and to the deposition, but I know I will get there.  Sometimes court reporting school might seem like you are moving at a snail’s pace, but I promise you – Pow!   You will start moving forward again and reach your destiny as a court reporter. 

@rosaliekramm (Twitter)

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4 replies
  1. Chris says:

    I too got stuck in 140/160 for six months. Prior to that, I had moved to a new speed class every quarter. When I finally passed, I thought it would be smooth sailing through the rest of school. Then I languished in 160/180 for a YEAR! I was so incensed it was not even funny. I analyzed my writing, worked on briefs, and practiced. When I finally passed, the tuition became too much, and I had to change schools! So I did. And within a few months, I passed all my tests to get into qualifiers. I did not, however, pass a qualifier for another two years though.
    Was it my writing? my briefs? my practice? What did I need to analyze? What I did not do was analyze my personal life during court reporting school very much. I was so stressed out (but handling it all without anyone noticing) that I made myself physically sick to the point of needing surgery. Yet, I still couldn’t figure out why my progress was slow at times!

    So after you do all you can do from a machine standpoint, look at your personal life. If you have a life, you can have stress that affects your progress. We can’t always make those stresses go away when we want, so don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t. As long as you have a “never say quit” attitude, you will make it through. It might not be in the time you wanted, but it will be in the right time for your circumstances. No matter how long, I assure you, it will be worth it when you have that license. It was worth it to me.

  2. admin says:

    Chris, You are spot on. When a person is in court reporting school and needs to concentrate to succeed, having distractions in one’s personal life will definitely slow you down. When I was in 160 forever, I also was dating a guy who wanted to actually go out and have fun. That was slowing me down.

  3. M. Zam says:

    This is happening right now to moi in school. Five months at that 160 QA and LIT, yet in JURY I’ve reached 200. Very frustrating, but it seems what you guys have written is correct. I somehow wish I can LIVE in SCHOOL till I’m done with no distractions :P

    This was very encouraging, thanks.
    I will continue keepin’ on…..

  4. admin says:


    Good luck getting up your Lit and QA speed. Literary is always difficult. When I was in school it was a lot of Congress, House of Representatives type dictation. Is it still? Get those briefs down if it is. As far as Q&A – you need SPEED.

    Keep writing!

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