College is hard, and court reporting school is no exception. The team of experienced reporters at O’Brien & Bails would like to share the following tips to court reporting students.
To be a successful court reporter, you need to expand your vocabulary. Read any and all types of books, and if you come across a word that you do not know, look up the definition. Download a vocabulary app that teaches you a new word each day. Take the time to learn medical prefixes and suffixes, as well as basic legal terms. The more words you are familiar with, the better reporter you will be. You should also keep up with the news at a local and national level. This is a good habit to begin because once you are a court reporter, you could work on a variety of cases that pertain to current societal issues.
Research the technology and types of machines to find one that you are most comfortable using. Check into what is most often used in your geographical area. Once you have learned how to operate the stenograph machine, you need to practice typing each and every day. In order to become a certified court reporter, you must be able to type 225 words per minute (wpm) accurately. That doesn’t just happen over night. It takes hours and hours of practice to reach that speed and accuracy. Set aside time each day to practice. Many court reporters have claimed that they had to practice at least three to four hours per day to graduate. When you first begin practicing, focus on accuracy rather than speed. Being able to type at a fast speed does you no good if your transcript is full of misspellings and punctuation errors.
When you are practicing, make sure that you are positioned correctly and not looking at the keys at all times. You should be sitting up straight with both of your feet flat on the floor. Position your keyboard so that your forearms are parallel to the floor. You should feel comfortable while typing. If you experience pain in your arms or shoulders, try adjusting your chair or the height of your machine. Stretching your hands, arms and neck can help prevent tension. The more time you spend typing on your machine, the more natural it will begin to feel.
When practicing, start a dictionary on your stenography machine and program frequently used words. When you come across a word you have difficulty typing, pause and write the word down. Keep a running list of all the words that you struggle with. Then, practice typing that list of words repeatedly until you no longer struggle with them, and add them to your dictionary.
While in court reporting school, utilize your resources. Ask professors questions, meet up with fellow students to practice typing and seek out advice from experienced reporters. School can be challenging, and you need a support system to encourage you to keep going. The stronger your network, the better you will be. You can also look for an internship opportunity to be proofreader or a scopist for an experienced court reporter. Research the different types of court reporting—official and freelance to determine where your dream job is.
O’Brien & Bails wishes you the best of luck in your court reporting studies! Remember, nothing worth having comes easy. You can do this. For more court reporting tips, visit https://www.thejcr.com/or https://www.ncra.org/. Do you want to learn what it takes to be a successful court reporter? Read our blog on the ‘Top 10 Skills of the Best Court Reporter.’