5 Things I Wish I Knew About Shorthand

1. Practice, Practice, Practice…kind of!

I was told by my Shorthand lecture to practise every single day. Every. Single. Day…uhhh, what?

Truth is, you can’t really take a break or else your speed will drop. Nobody gets this unless they’ve sat a Shorthand exam themselves.

My suggestion is don’t practise every day if you can’t. If it’s a matter of ‘I can’t be bothered’ – STUDY…If it’s a matter of ‘this is making me so angry, I need a break’ – for the sake of your mental health, TAKE A BREAK!

There’s a difference between you WANT to take a break (don’t) and NEED to take a break (do).

My parents would say ‘take a break’ pretty much every day. I was crying most weeks over Shorthand – studying everyday DID NOT HELP ME. I took a day off and came back to it the next day and boy did I notice a difference. I suggest you do the same!

Make sure you also break up your studying into manageable chunks. I would do 2 passages after lunch, 2 more about 2 hours later and a further 1 or 2 after dinner. If you’re a tea lover like me, make this your rule…if your tea is cold, take a break. If you overdo it, you’ll just get frustrated.

2. Learn the simple / word groupings

If you don’t go over the simple word/word groping outlines at least every month (even if you know them off by heart) you’ll probably forget and fall behind when exam time comes.

I would go over them every month, especially the week of the exam to ensure I knew EVERY SINGLE outline. It’s insane how you could quickly write ‘will, is, she, they, their, which’ within seconds but when you look back you wrote ‘it’ rather than ‘is’ – THAT could cost you BIG in the exam.

I’m not sure if it’s the same for all Shorthand exams, but we were allowed 5 errors – FIVE. That’s why it’s important you can read back what you’ve written too. Get used to how you write things so if there’s something you can’t read back, you can try and make a good guess.

3. It could take a month before you see an improvement

Don’t expect to see an improvement overnight or within a week. It could take two/three weeks or maybe a month.

Seriously. When I was sitting my 70s, I was getting so angry because I was always getting 125-130 words for a 3 weeks straight. Eventually about a week later, I was hitting 140 words all the time. That’s when you really shouldn’t take a break – if you can help it. You don’t want to lose that speed.

4. Try a faster speed

One method that helped me achieve my 70s & 80s was to do 80s all the time and then go back to 70s now and again.

That way it was really fast so you were studying for your 80s whilst studying also for your 70s. Does that make sense?

So when you went back to do a 70s passage, it seemed much slower and therefore easier to build up your speed.

Another tip I learned was after I had finished the passage, rather than write it back, I would say the words out-loud and then listen back to the dictation as I was saying each sentence. It helped me to see how I wrote words and where I was going wrong.

I don’t know if it helped because I knew the words or it was genuinely building my speed – but something worked. Worth a shot!

PS: Obviously do this occasionally. Try and always dictate back by writing since that’s what you’ll have to do in the exam.

5. TV & Music

I only did this in the last three months of my course which I regret but try turning songs, TV shows (or just whenever there’s a conversation) into shorthand. That way you’re keeping it up whilst practising the rules such as T&D, the TR blend, etc.

So…is Shorthand important or just a waste of space?

When I was sitting my 70s & 80s, I kept saying ‘who uses shorthand? It’s pointless. We have recording devices, I can type fast. It’s madness’ …

At the end of the day, I needed it to pass my course. If I failed, I would have failed my whole course. Pretty sh*t, right? It’s a great skill to have but I won’t sugar coat anything, it’s a bloody tedious skill to learn – so tedious and definitely madness!

The thing is, if you have the skill you’ll pass. I had the skill and passed. If I didn’t have it, not to mention the basics (see point 2), I would have failed before I even walked through the door.

Here’s an example of Teeline Shorthand words I was learning…

So if you have any questions, feel free to ask me! I wish I saw more posts like these. The amount of people I looked up online to try and get advice was insane and nobody came up that could really help.

So if you’re sitting Shorthand and like me you’re finding it a bit, shall we say, annoying…don’t worry, drop me a DM on Twitter or something!

Remember, the exam is probably around an hour out of your life…

Each passage is 2 minutes, aka 6 minutes for all 3…

Then around 35 minutes to dictate it all back…

And after that, you can relax 💪🏽


Mainly blog about skin-care & travel. You may have noticed my obsession with Paris, chocolate and tea…

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    • Sophie
      17th August 2018 / 7:06 PM

      A great but tedious skill – worth it in the end though.

  1. 21st July 2018 / 5:08 PM

    So happy that everything worked out for you in the end and you passed! I wished I could have given you a massive hug when you were telling us about it all!! By writing this post you will now be helping so many people that will do Shorthand in the future!! The amount of times I have let my tea go cold is unbelievable so that is a really great tip!!

    Vikki | http://planetvikkiblog.wordpress.com

    • Sophie
      21st July 2018 / 7:51 PM

      Thank you!! I hope it does help – I would have loved to find posts like these and just reassuring words xx thank you for your advice and support these past months! It’s been fab & means so much! Xx

  2. 29th June 2018 / 9:01 AM

    I’m off to study journalism in September and I know in my second year I have to learn shorthand. It is the one part of the course I am dreading but I’ll keep your tips in mind when it comes to it!

    • Sophie
      29th June 2018 / 9:14 AM

      Good luck with it all – any questions just ask! Hope it all goes well 😀

  3. 29th June 2018 / 8:56 AM

    SAME, so much SAME. I know you’re so relieved now it’s over but you did amazing!! I’m glad trying the faster speeds worked and the rest of your tips also worked for me. Shorthand is so so difficult and anyone who can get as far as you have should definitely celebrate. Anyone who ever has to sit Shorthand exams should for sure read this post.

    Faye Jessica | fayejessica.co.uk

    • Sophie
      29th June 2018 / 9:13 AM

      Thank you! And a big thank you for your advice! I now can look at the word ‘Shorthand’ without getting mad 😂 x

  4. 28th June 2018 / 9:31 PM

    I have to say, when you were telling us all on Snapchat about this exam I was so sad for you! I think your tip about the tea going cold is GENIUS! I’m always typing away and then my tea (well actually coffee but same difference) goes cold. I also think it’s a good idea to try the fasyer speed and then go back because I bet the other one is bound to feel easier! I’m so proud of you for completing this ❤ Big love gal xxx

    • Sophie
      28th June 2018 / 9:37 PM

      Aww thank you, Eva 😭😭💜 I’m so bloomin’ lucky to have you gals. Your support meant EVERYTHING. The amount of times I made a cuppa, went to study and then it was cold was unreal so that was kind of my unwritten rule 😂
      So glad I can now relax & catch up on the vlogs/blogs!!!
      You’re fab! Xx thank you for your support 😭

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