How to Test Shorthand Speed

Things You'll Need

  • Stopwatch
  • TV or radio

Writing shorthand to record quotes or an interview remains a key skill for secretaries, administrative staff and journalists even in this digital age. From taking verbatim notes in business meetings to reporting court proceedings, shorthand is a core business tool that enhances a person’s resume. According to Britain's National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), news and sports reporters need a minimum of 100 words per minute (WPM) shorthand, while 80 to 100 WPM is acceptable for magazine reporters. The most popular shorthand systems are: Gregg, Pitman and Teeline.

Turn on the TV or radio and tune in to a news program or talk show. Place your pen and paper in front of you on a hard surface and sit down. Put the stopwatch to your left if you are right-handed, and to your right if you are left-handed.

Take a deep breath; wait for a news item to commence; start the stopwatch and begin writing.

Write as quickly as you can for 30 seconds or one minute, depending on your ability and confidence level.

Transcribe the piece immediately and count how many words you noted down in the allotted time. If you only wrote for 30 seconds, then double the word count to find out your WPM shorthand speed.

Repeat the process several times in order to improve your shorthand writing speed. If you also wish to check your level of accuracy then simultaneously record the news item on a recording device and play it back to compare it with your transcription.

Remember that your shorthand speed will be affected by the subject and difficulty level of the oral dictation. For example, a news report on a scientific study will take longer to note accurately than a report on an automobile accident.

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