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 💪🏽