Word counts vary from shorthand to shorthand as well as from older shorthand to newer shorthand. Most were timed in syllable as they found that to be the best way to judge count accurately among the various shorthand systems. Pitman may have a short outline for one word as Gregg have a long outline for the same work, then the opposite happening in other outlines. Since shorthand is verbal, syllables don't change (except by accents, I suppose). I had a Diamond Jubilee dictation book (still might somewhere) that listed timings for a lot of different counting.
The first part of most dictation books will indicate what the word count is. You will find it mostly in the "teachers" section of that introduction. If it is different, some will give you the word count.
In the above link, Word Syllable Count (relinked for ease), it does mention word for word count, which is basically one word counted as one. So the word "bascially" to me, sounds like 3 syllables, but it's one word. If you cannot find a word count in a book or you are using articles that aren't counted in shorthand, feel free to do the word for word count. With brief forms, abbreviations, etc., it will probably even out--especially with Anniversary or any "expert speed course" you have taken (which uses Anniversary brief forms and shortened outlines).
Then you can always time yourself on dictation that has an actual word count to compare.