How long does it take to get good at steno?

Before you get started with steno, you might be wondering how long you have to practice until you actually get good.

Now, what does it mean to get "good". People may have varying definitions of what it means to be "good" but we will be defining "good" in various stages. My standard for measuring wpm is a generic one minute typing test of common words.

Also note that I didn't learn steno full time and was just doing it on the side for fun whenever I felt like it.

August 2020: Learning the layout

Learning the layout can take as short as a week of dedicated learning, maybe even a day of typing on Qwerty Steno. It took me about a week. I didn't even have an NKRO keyboard at this point. I just used a normal membrane keyboard with 6-key-rollover to learn the entire layout.

December 2020: 50 wpm

This took me about 3 or 4 months of very casual practice. Maybe 20 minutes a day on various practice websites like Steno Jig, Typey Type, Monkey Type, and 10FastFingers. As you can see, I got myself a Redragon K552 NKRO mechanical keyboard.

January 2021: 100 wpm

Following shortly after 50 wpm. My primary goal was to familiarize myself with the physical use of steno rather than developing theory. I wanted my muscles to develop before really diving deep into learning theory.

February 2021: 120 wpm

Reached on the top 100 words after about 6 months of practice. Up to this point, I still didn't have an actual steno keyboard. I was just using an NKRO keyboard.

March 2021: 135 wpm

Was reached on the first version of the Uni, the Uni v1. It was noticeably more comfortable to type on, especially because of the ortholinear keys and the comfortable spacing between my fingers and thumb. This was actually a 30 second test but oh well.

May 2021: 149 wpm

This is now after 9 months of stenoing. After the 9 month period the Uni v2 was born and I recorded myself going at 149 wpm on a 60 second test. I was so close to getting 150 wpm! At this point, my muscle memory is quite good and learning new words were arguably easier than learning new words say, four months ago. At this point, I could almost use steno as a daily driver. I say almost because it still slowed me down to figure out words I didn't know.

October 2021: 180 wpm

Alright, I know I'm only doing a 50 word typing test in the video, which is a lot shorter than a one minute typing test, so my actual top speeds for a 60 second test was around 160 wpm on a one minute typing test. I just thought 180 wpm was a lot cooler and apparently so did a million other people. This was on the Uni v3

At this point, I could use steno the entire day without switching to a regular keyboard and still get work done.

Note that on Monkeytype, if you type too fast on a timed test with steno, it'll think that you're a bot and it won't save your progress (saving your progress only works when you're signed in). But interestingly, on word tests like the 50 word test, it saves your result so that's why I'm using this mode here.

I hope this helped in providing a reference point to see how fast someone can learn steno. This is here to encourage you on your steno journey. Just remember that everyone has their own pace and you shouldn't compare yourself to others.

The important thing is consistency and always remember that training today is to see gains tomorrow. Do at least one typing test a day, and make that a routine. Don't. ever. give. up.

So what are you doing? Go! Practice!!!

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