Court Reporters Compete in Speed Contests

The NCRA organizes a speed contest at its national court reporting conference and exhibition each year. Participants are expected to transcribe 3 5-minute documents with 95 percent accuracy for the literary section at speeds of 220 wpm, 230 wpm in Legal Opinion and 280 wpm while taking Testimony. Kaplan Leaman & Wolfe Court Reporters of Fort Lauderdale offers excellent info on this.

NCRA Geschichte Speed Contest

The first national speed contest was held in 1909 when court reporters used shorthand methods of either Pitman or Gregg to record comments using pen and paper. The competitions continued until 1927 when they were discontinued, in part because the results were misused by both the Pitman and Gregg companies to endorse their respective speedwriting methods. During this time court stenographers using the new stenotype machines were excluded because they felt the machines gave them a competitive advantage too great.

The speed contests resumed in 1952, using computer shorthand for all competitors. The court reporting profession was dominated by men in those days and the first woman did not win the speed contest until 1965. Females won more often than men in the late ‘ 70s.

Professional Benefits

Competition encourages the contestants to excell and the court reporters who take part in the competitions to boost their job level. They push themselves to become faster and more accurate reporters beyond their perceived limits. The contest provides role models which inspire everyone in the profession by showing them what is possible for self-applying reporters.

The speed contest reveals which speeds are possible but, more importantly, which are not speeds. In fact, one reason the contest started in 1909 was the number of court reporters who reported that they could transcribe at speeds from 400 to 600 wpm. Since the country’s fastest court stenographers weren’t even hitting 300 in the competitions, these reports proved to be inaccurate and forced reporters to assert more practical capabilities.

Ready for the Contest

Reporters on the court in Philadelphia who would like to enter the national speed contest will need to practice, practice and practice. On the work level, contest training is just slightly beneficial. Unlike anything a reporter faces in day-to-day work, the level of intense transcription required at contest attempts.

During contest writing, there are no delays or slowdowns, as opposed to normal depositions. In addition to achieving the high pace and accuracy needed, Court reporters must maintain their rhythm for 5 minutes. The only way to prepare for speed writing is intensive, high speed recording preparation.