Now, this may get a little confusing, so I'm sorry if it does! You learn a whole new language to be able to write on the machine. It's called steno. It's an ongoing process. You learn something new pretty much every day.
It also takes a LOT of practice time. You have to be able to write at 225 WPM on the machine. So, you are basically learning a new motor skill and a new language at the same time. Does this explain a little as to why school can take FOREVER to get out of?
There are three categories: Jury Charge (JC), Literary (Lit), and Question and Answer (QA). In each speed class you have to pass 3 in each category to be able to get an A. Each class has different speeds. JC and QA are usually the same speed, and Lit is usually 20 WPM lower. You cannot move on to another class until you have either gotten a B (2 passes in each category) or an A. Another reason school can take forever.
To pass the State Exam in the State of Texas, you have to pass a 225 QA, 200 JC, and a 180 Lit at 95% all at the same time. My school requires you pass two mock exams at 97%. Basically, the same speeds as the state exam, only at 97%. Sometimes I wish they wouldn't, BUT I know that I can do it when I go take the State test. There is also a knowledge part of the rules you have to follow according to your state. Not all state's have a state certification. Texas and California have the hardest. Of course, I have to live in one of the toughest states! Oh well...
I hope this helps explain a little bit more as to what I am doing in school, and if you ever read/hear me talk about it, you'll understand a little bit better. I'm always more than happy to answer any questions.
As of right now (before summer semester starts) I need two more 200 QA's for an A, then I will be trying for my mock exams! So, I am nearing the end...just hoping I can push it hard enough to be done with school this summer!!