While you are in class, you will get ample “control” speed takes. Your tests are all control takes, and the dictation your teacher reads off is considered a control take.
When you get home, it is your duty to press yourself constantly (three times a day if possible) and consistently (every day). You are trying to become master of the board, not merely semi-fluent. Imagine learning French to the degree that you can be put into France with the ability to communicate clearly with the people around you. That is a high degree of proficiency.
So the more time you spend with your craft, the better you will become over time. Maybe not that week or that month, but collectively over two months, you will have come so far.
Highspeed is essential because there are spots in EVERY test where it seems like the pace has quickened. The pace generally has not quickened, but the words in that spot are unfamiliar, maybe just the juxtaposition of those words, and so you drop. BUT you don’t have to drop! You can train yourself to remain focused despite the odds. What you believe you can do, you will have better odds at doing. You have to believe in your mind, from remembering yourself surviving from a drop in a highspeed take, that you can muscle through those fast spots on a test and create something that you can read back.
This is where highspeed comes into play. Everyone does well at different degrees of highspeed. For one, it could be 20 wpm over, for another it could be 40 wpm. Find your sweet spot.
Here are the biggest benefits of highspeed:
1. Endurance. Highspeed is very tiring.
2. You become master of briefing on the fly, which will save you in a test eventually. You make similar briefs for words that ALWAYS cause you to stumble, even if that slot is not open. You can still read it back, and that’s a boon.
3. Everything else sounds slow in comparison.
4. You do not have to sit for 2 straight hours, but can do just 30 minutes at a time, saving about 30 minutes a day for the same result.
Here are the best places to find highspeed:
Magnum Steno Club
NCRA dictation from the NCRA website
My Realtime Coach
You really only need the first two, but the other three are worth looking into if you have extra money and like a variety.