Most court reporting programs will quote two years as the time frame it takes to complete the program and be ready to take certification tests. However, court reporting school can be a very difficult program to complete, so students may take longer than expected.
During the recruitment process, program recruiters may advertise that most students graduate within two to three years. They may even share the stories of their star students who passed in less than a year.
However, many students will need three to five years to complete the program. Students build speed in writing at different paces. The good news is you can take as long as you need to build the speed required to graduate. The bad news is this may mean you’ll be in the program longer.
When Will I Graduate?
You will graduate when you can pass all the speed tests that fulfill your program’s requirements, and finish all other essential course work. It is often the speed tests that cause a student to take longer to graduate. Writing at high speeds is not easy. Whether it takes you two years or five years to attain the high speeds, you will be at the same qualification level as all other graduates of the program.
How Can I Speed Up The Program?
There are many tips on speeding the graduation process up. First, you must mentally commit yourself to the challenging journey that reporting school can be. You are essentially learning a new language called stenography, and learning a new way to write! That is why establishing a strong foundation in learning the language and basic writing skills is extremely important. Just like how a child must first learn their ABCs before they can read, a student must learn the new language and art of reading and writing stenography. Students who excel in their foundational classes struggle less in their speed classes. A good foundation will eliminate those times when you take several seconds deciding how to write words during a test. As many students and reporters may tell you, second-guessing yourself while writing can cause you to drop words while testing.
Another benefit of building a strong foundation is learning the proper way to write prefixes, suffixes, numbers, and other words, conflict-free. Having a conflict-free dictionary will help you write cleaner and reduce time transcribing. You may even become a real-time writer, a highly valued skill, and will likely increase the amount of money you earn on jobs.
What If It Takes Me Longer to Graduate?
Discipline and time management with practice can greatly affect the amount of time you spend in school. Without practicing, most students are unable to pass speeds at an ideal rate. Never mind the people who say they rarely practiced and still passed out of school quickly. They are exceptions! Most people must spend at least an hour each day practicing finger drills, challenging words, and speed after school. Writing in school should not count as your “practice”. Many students fall into the trap, thinking that practice in school is enough. It isn’t. Consistent practice can greatly reduce anxiety during test taking and read back, and boost confidence in your abilities. Practicing on your CAT system will also help build your dictionary. A reporter’s dictionary should always be backed up because your dictionary will be tailored to your unique way of writing. It is invaluable!
Lastly, a positive mind set will help you greatly in your journey. Negativity can lower your confidence in your own abilities. Recognize that failing a test or not writing well one day does not equate to being a failure. It is natural to struggle and encounter obstacles during school. Persevering through discouraging moments with a positive mind set will help you tremendously.
Building a strong and solid foundation at the start of school will set you off on the right track to becoming a successful student. Remaining disciplined, practicing good time management, and maintaining a positive outlook can help students pass out of school at a faster pace. Every student is unique, and what may work for one student may not work for another. That is why establishing what works for you early in school will help set a standard that will help you graduate sooner.