Last chance to take the WKT in 2018! Check out these tips on how to pass NCRA’s WKT and Skills Tests

The JCR reached out to NCRA members, including volunteers on several of the NCRA committees that create and administer the skills and written knowledge tests, to get tips on passing NCRA certification tests. Whether your next exam is a skills or written test, whether it is the RPR, the RDR, or the CRC, we’ve got you covered.

On Sept. 30, registration closes for the last RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS Written Knowledge Tests in 2018. Register now for the testing period from Oct. 8-22.

Online Skills Tests for the RPR, RMR, CRR, and CRC can be taken through December. Register now!

 

Know you can pass it

Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC
Immediate Past President
Wausau, Wis.

Prior to my personal experience as the NCRA Board Liaison to the Test Advisory Committee (TAC), I believed, like many others, that NCRA was intentionally out to make the test diffcult. Could they really be making these tests diffcult just to get more money? I discovered that is definitely not the case!

TAC works diligently to make every test fair and passable. The process is really quite intense and amazing. I was proud to be a part of their process; I wish more people could see them in action. Both the Skills Test Writing Committee and the Written Knowledge Test Committee are dedicated to continually upgrading content and keeping the process updated and relevant.

Next time you take a certification test, go in knowing that it is passable. Focus, focus, focus.

Try to relax, remember to breathe throughout, and just let the words flow from your ears and out your fingers. Don’t think!

Enhancing your skills by adding a new certification behind your name will definitely pay off. Certification is good for the profession as a whole as well as your personal professional stock.

Strategic drops can ease your realtime test

Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC
Murietta, Calif.

For any of the realtime skills tests, learning to strategically drop is key. There will pretty much always be a handful of words that they add to try and throw you. Save yourself from dropping the sentence after that hard or weird word because you were trying to write that word and just drop the hard word and move on. Take the one error and don’t look back!

Build your speed for skills tests

Andrea J. Couch, RDR, CRR, CRC
Boise, Idaho

My number one tip would be to practice at higher speeds. No matter what kind of test you’re taking, whether it’s a realtime certification test or a speed-related certification test, anything you can do to make the words not sound so fast makes a huge difference. If you find it overwhelming to write super-fast dictation, just listen to it and let your brain get used to processing words at high speeds. Passing tests is all in your mind. If you can train your brain to process the words quickly, efficiently, and cleanly, your fingers will follow along with ease. Just like athletes train their bodies to function at peak performance, we must do the same with our minds if we are to be successful.

Also, when you’re practicing for certification tests, work very hard to focus on one word at a time. If you’re listening to the context of what’s being said, you will undoubtedly get tripped up. If you write “two” instead of “too” while taking the RPR or RMR tests, it really doesn’t matter. You got the word that was said and you can correct it later. Don’t let it trip you up that you wrote the wrong one. Focus on getting a stroke for every single word, one word at a time. If you make a mistake, let it go and move on to the next word. Don’t let a small mistake turn into a 15-word drop.

In the case of a realtime test, if you write “two” instead of “too,” it is still just counted as one error. Let it go and move on. Don’t allow that one mistroke to cause ten more. Take the one error, don’t let it throw you, and continue on and write the following words cleanly. It’s much easier to do this if you aren’t listening to the context of what is being said but just focusing on each individual word that is being dictated.

Keep it super simple

Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE
Annapolis, Md.

  1. Control your breathing.
  2. Know the rules.
  3. Practice the process, not just your writing.
  4. Review “What is an Error?” before your test, so you know what to expect.

Do a test run

Michael Hensley, RPR
Dublin, Calif.

I’m a strong proponent of pushing and practicing above the speed you need. If you’re aiming for the RPR at 225, you should be practicing at 240 as part of your routine. That extra speed buffer is crucial to help you feel comfortable with writing at test speeds.

Practice with a “dress rehearsal” as many times as you possibly can. Test day can be a highly tense situation. However, if you put yourself through the process more frequently beforehand, the actual test will be far less frightening. I recommend purchasing audio of previous NCRA tests. Use these to go through the testing process on your own. Include the process of transcribing your test, and be sure to self-grade and evaluate your final result to determine areas where you can focus your practice in order to improve. When you finally get to your testing session, it will feel like just another day of practice.

A handful of tips from a World Record Holder

Mark Kislingbury, FAPR, RDR, CRR
Houston, Texas

How to handle test nerves: Top NCAA men’s basketball coach John Wooden didn’t talk to his players about winning. Rather, he talked about each player striving to maximize his own potential. A player was to practice in such a way and play games in such a way that his goal was always trying to maximize that potential.

I believe court reporting students should approach school and testing in the same way. The main goal of practice is to practice in such a way so that you will improve and do your best on that particular day on that test. You don’t have to pass, but just try your best.

Adopting this attitude takes the pressure off achieving a certain result and frees you up to just “go for it” and do your best! If you did your best, even if you get below the required passing percentage, you have succeeded in the bigger goal.

Go out there and have fun! Record-breaking, undefeated, four-time NCAA collegiate wrestling champion Cael Sanderson has coached the Penn State wrestling squad to six national championships out of the last eight years. He expects his wrestlers to give their all, to be the best they can be, but overall, to “have fun!” Again, the goal is not to win, as in “I have to win,” but rather, “Go have fun in this match because you love wrestling, and give it your all!”

In the same way, court reporting school doesn’t have to be torture! It’s all about attitude. I love writing on the machine, and I love striving to be the best I can be, and I love achieving steno goals. Try turning your practice sessions into expressions of loving steno, loving writing on the machine. So “go out there and have fun!”

Write some high-speed material immediately before the test: Immediately before you take the test, if possible, practice for several minutes (you choose how long) at a speed at least 15-25 percent faster than the test will be, all the while striving to not drop a single stroke. This has the very nice effect of making the test seem very slow!

Try to “just write” and stay right on the speaker’s words: I have found that striving to never get behind helps me pass more tests, since getting behind often ends up in dropping numerous words and not passing. I also try to “be ready” for the hard parts. Each test will have several hard parts, the rest being fairly nice material. It’s how we handle the hard parts that usually determines passing or failing. So if you can fight through the hard parts without making too many errors (especially not dropping), you’re in good shape to pass the test!

Read the question again!

Wade Garner, RPR, CPE
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Members of the Item Writing Committee work very hard to make the test questions as clear and easily understood as possible. The emphasis of the certification exams is to test the candidate’s knowledge, and all questions are written with that goal in mind. We try to avoid writing questions that are ambiguous, unclear, subjective, or deceptive.

Many times a candidate will think they know the answer to a question after reading the first few words and then instinctively move toward selecting an answer without fully reading the entire question. I do this as well. As a member of the Test Advisory Committee, we go through a proposed test and answer the questions just as though we were a testing candidate. We then review the questions along with the answers. Many times, I have incorrectly answered a proposed question because I did not take that extra few seconds to fully read and re-read the question.

Practice above what you need

Allison Kimmel, RDR, CRR, CRC
Marysville, Ohio

If you are trying to pass the RPR, practice as if you are taking the RMR.

Likewise, if you’re trying to pass the RMR, practice as if you are participating in a speed contest. If your state offers a speed contest, participate in that. You will probably be nervous, but use it as an opportunity to work through your nerves. You may just pleasantly surprise yourself.

If you are trying to pass the CRR, practice higher than the test speed. My best suggestion is that, if you use your asterisk key as a correction stroke, you should also define your asterisk key and the final side -R key as an additional correction stroke. I found I would drag the -R key into the correction stroke, not correcting anything but adding additional errors.

For the Written Knowledge Tests for both the RPR and the RDR, I suggest looking through the NCRA website COPE opinions. There’s no need to memorize them. Just familiarize yourself with them. Also, look at the RPR/RDR job analysis info found on the website. If you own any of the books that are used as reference materials, take some time to peruse those too. I find glancing through the legal citations portion of Black’s Law Dictionary helpful.

Finally, I’d suggest subscribing to Merriam-Webster’s word-of-the-day email and reading it.

A little tip, but an important one

Katherine Schilling, RPR
Tokyo, Japan

Always get a good night’s sleep the night before and surround yourself with positive people who will love you no matter how you do on the test.

Do the math

Janice Plomp, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI
St. Albert, Alberta, Canada

Before I start dispensing advice, let me first say congratulations to you! By challenging an NCRA certification exam, you are investing in your career and our profession. In my book, you are already a winner.

The surefire way to pass a skills test is to accurately write every word, and you should be practicing with that goal in mind. When you’re falling behind or dropping, analyze that section of the dictation. Practice the challenging words, look for phrasing opportunities, and then write it again — and again and again.

As you strive for perfection, it is equally important to prepare for the very real possibility that you may not achieve it on test day. What if you’re falling behind? What if some of the vocabulary is making you freeze like the proverbial deer in the headlights? Again, take an analytical approach, decide how you are going to handle these challenges, and then incorporate those strategies into your practice.

The first rule of speed tests is: Don’t get behind. You are far better to drop three or four words than to hold on too long and end up dropping a complete sentence. Once you recognize the validity of the concept, you are free to drop words and move on without beating yourself up about it. Before you start a dictation, decide that you will never get more than four words behind. Now practice it. Make the quick decision to drop and don’t second-guess yourself. On a 225 Q&A, you are allowed 57 errors. Even if you dropped every 30 seconds, that is only 40 errors. While we are all about words in our business, don’t ignore the math.

Since we are talking about numbers, consider the fact that dropping “consortium” is the same as dropping “can.” Think about what you will do when you come across vocabulary that makes you hesitate and fall behind. What if you just write the first stroke and hope that you can figure it out from context? What if you write something and hope that you can remember later? What if you don’t write anything at all? They are all valid strategies. Pick one and then practice it. Before you start a dictation, decide that you will use this strategy for every big word that isn’t a brief. Be sure to take a few minutes after to review your notes and transcript; you might be surprised.

Let me give you an example. Looking at an RPR literary test that I recently wrote, there are 22 four- or five-syllable words. Only one of those words occurs twice. Out of those, there are two words that I would write in three strokes. The rest are one or two strokes, and the majority of those are common words like “information,” “particular,” and “conversation.” Now, I have been at this a long time, so perhaps I have more briefs than you. The fact remains that out of exactly 900 words, only 22 could be considered big. If you dropped every one of them, you would still have room for 23 more errors.

Disclaimer: These next two strategies might not be the best if you are taking the CRR or CRC!

Hopefully, you are a stickler when it comes to writing punctuation. In a testing situation, however, dropping a comma or an apostrophe could buy you that extra second that you need. Practice it. Proper nouns can be a challenge. Decide how you are going to handle that name the next time you hear it. They do have a tendency to recur in a test. Practice it.

As you are preparing for your certification exam, your goal should always be perfection. Your fallback goal is minimal errors, and that is where these strategies come in. You need to practice dropping the same way that you practice not dropping. Remember that no error is fatal. When you drop, don’t think of it as a failure. Instead, pat yourself on the back for making a “calculated” decision because, after all, it’s all about the numbers!

 

Dreaming of earning the CRC?

Realtime captioning is an in-demand skill for court reporters. Earning the Certified Realtime Captioner certification will allow those who possess it to present themselves as among the most elite and qualified captioners.

To earn a CRC, candidates must:

  • Take the CRC Workshop, which is now offered online as an on-demand e-seminar and can be taken anytime
  • Pass the CRC Skills Test (literary matter at 180 wpm) at 96 percent accuracy, which is offered online and can be taken anytime
  • Pass a 50-question CRC Written Knowledge Test, which can be taken at a Pearson VUE testing center in October (registration opens in September)

Throughout this process, CRC candidates will gain a solid foundation for understanding what it takes to be a captioner.

Interested? Registration for the online CRC Workshop, Skills Test, and Written Knowledge Test are currently open. More information is available online at NCRA.org/testing.

You earned it! Now keep it!

Now that you have earned your certification, you need to maintain it by earning continuing education credits (CEUs). On September 30, NCRA’s 2018 education cycle will come to an end. NCRA members with cycles ending in 2018 have a number of quick-and-easy ways to earn CEUs in the time remaining.

  1. Watch the JCR Weekly and your email for information about upcoming live webinars and e-seminars. Webinars and e-seminars represent the most convenient way to earn CEUs when and where you need them. NCRA’s library of webinars and e-seminars is the easiest way to find the latest offerings. Webinars are live presentations from industry professionals on various professional and industry-related topics, and e-seminars feature recorded video and downloadable handout materials and allow you to access the best presentations from past NCRA events and webinars.
  2. Attend a pre-approved event, including state association conferences, and earn CEUs while catching up with old friends and making new ones during educational sessions and networking opportunities. Many state associations and other court reporter-related organizations are hosting conferences and seminars in September. Most events are one to three days, and many of them are in the first half of the month. Check out the full calendar of pre-approved events on NCRA’s website.
  3. Did you know that if you learn CPR or first aid, you can earn CEUs? The American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, and other organizations often host seminars on CPR or first aid. Perhaps you can organize a few colleagues from your firm, court, or even your local area to team up for an event nearby. Court reporters and captioners have to be prepared for anything, so why not add safety to your list of skills?
  4. Transcribe an oral history for the National Court Reporters Foundation program. Members who participate in the Oral Histories Program through NCRF may earn Professional Development Credits for their time. Members can apply up to 1.0 PDC to their CEU requirement per cycle. Transcribe a 30- to 90-minute pre-recorded interview of an American veteran, Holocaust survivor, or attorney who has provided pro bono services through Legal Aid. Many people find participating in the Oral Histories Program to be especially rewarding. Learn more about the Oral Histories Program by visiting the NCRF page on the NCRA website.
  5. You may have already participated in activities that have helped you earn CEUs or PDCs during the last year, and the only thing you need to do is fill out the proper form to get credit. If you promoted the profession at a career fair, law school, or other event; provided pro bono services; served on a state association board or committee (including the United States Court Reporting Association); or participated in a formal mentoring program, you may qualify for credit for your volunteerism. To learn more, visit the Continuing Education page on the NCRA website.
  6. Finally, go through your records to see if any educational opportunities were somehow overlooked. Classes should be closely related to court reporting and not paid for by your employer. If the event was held in the past three years, it may be worth the time to see if it might be CEU-worthy.

 

Learn more about how you can keep that certification you worked so hard to earn by visiting the Continuing Education page on NCRA’s website.

 

 

You can still register on-site for the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo

Although online registration for NCRA’s 2018 Convention & Expo is closed, you can still register on-site for this premier event taking place Aug. 2-5 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, in colorful New Orleans, La.

On-site registration opens Thursday, Aug. 2, at 7 a.m. and closes at 6:30 p.m. Registration is open on Friday, Aug. 3, and Saturday, Aug. 4, from 6:45 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Don’t miss the excitement of this year’s Convention & Expo with highlights that include:

Keynote speaker Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré (U.S. Army, Ret.), a 37-year veteran of active service who served as the commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, during which time he became known as the “Category 5 General” for his striking leadership style in coordinating military relief efforts in post-hurricane New Orleans. In addition to sharing insights into his leadership skills with attendees at the premier session, Honoré will write his military story in a special Veterans History Project event. His story will be preserved at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., as part of its VHP program.

An all-inclusive schedule is sure to appeal to anyone in the court reporting, captioning, and legal video professions, and in the educational arena.

Dozens of vendors will showcase the latest in new products and services specifically for the court reporting and captioning professions, including software, equipment, support services, new products, and more.

Other schedule highlights include workshops, business sessions, and Learning Zones that will offer attendees added opportunities to mingle and network; the National Speed and Realtime Contests; and the Member Recognition Gala. Throughout the Convention, attendees can earn up to 2.3 CEUs.

And be sure to stop by the National Court Reporters Foundation booth to enter a raffle to win a one-of-a-kind Luminex steno machine.

For more information about NCRA’s 2018 Convention & Expo or to see the schedule, visit NCRA.org/Convention.

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Purple Book

By Anthony Frisolone

Monette Benoit is a well-known figure in the area of court reporter education. She has created The Complete Written Knowledge Test Prep Textbook, 7th Edition, and NCRA Certified Realtime Captioner Primer, which can be purchased separately or in a three- volume or four-volume set.

The “Purple Book,” as it is known among court reporters, is 331 pages long, covering six chapters of material organized into chapters starting with test-taking tips and ending with computer terminology and prep for the Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) Exam. The seventh chapter is titled “Suggested Study Material as Review.”

This is the ultimate test prep book; you won’t need anything else, save for a subject area specific to your state. The “Purple Book” can serve as a reference guide to be kept at your desk at home or in the office. I view this to be a value-added component of the book.

The book starts with an introduction, laying out Benoit’s education and background, which is extensive, as a freelance and official court reporter, captioner, author, and educator of court reporters worldwide.

This book stands out from the rest because it can be used for individual learning as well as for classroom instruction. The professional using this book on his or her own will find plenty of advice from Benoit in the first chapter on how to use this book effectively. Classroom instructors are given a syllabus and instructions as well as course objectives so students can get the most out of this book.

Chapter 1 begins with Written Knowledge Test (WKT) Test-Taking Tips, featuring an explanation of NCRA’s certification examinations and their requirements. This chapter broadly covers state Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSR) tests, and it is recommended that the reader contact their local CSR board for more specific information.

Chapter 2, Legal and Court Terminology, starts with a review of 350-plus legal terms and proceeds to review the steps of a trial and on to the steps of a criminal proceeding.

Chapter 3, Court Reporting Rules, reviews 91 court reporting rules that reporters will encounter on WKTs. The numbered list format of this chapter allows the reader to focus on individual rules instead of becoming bored with reading paragraph after paragraph of rules.

Chapter 4, English and Grammar, starts with spelling and then flows into a grammar glossary, and then Part One of Grammar and Punctuation. In the middle of the chapter, almost strategically placed as to give the reader a break, there is a review of misused words. The chapter ends with Grammar and Punctuation, Part Two.

The medical information found in Chapter 5 is worth the price of the book in preparing reporters to take the medical terminology portion of a test with confidence. This chapter is another example of the research performed by Benoit, who has made sure to cover prefixes and suffixes, types of fractures, regions of the body, and anatomy, just to name a few subject areas found within this chapter.

Chapter 6 is an extensive review of computer terminology with the primer for the NCRA CRC exam intertwined with the extensive glossary of computer, Windows 8, and Windows 10 terms as well as the NCRA Advisory Opinions.

If there is one suggestion, it would be that the NCRA CRC Primer could be a standalone book or, at the very least, worthy of its own chapter within the “Purple Book.” If your goal is to take and pass the CRC exam, this chapter covers captioning-oriented material to strengthen your knowledge. This chapter is especially useful if your computer literacy is lacking and you want to understand computer terminology or have a better grasp of Windows 8 or 10. The screen captures of the features found in Windows are helpful and add depth to this chapter. The NCRA Advisory Opinions complete the chapter and are an item every test candidate should be familiar with.

Chapter 7 contains further study material, including additional Latin terms, similar and somewhat similar words, misspelled words, abbreviations, and definitions. It is suggested that the Companion Guide and Workbook be purchased to enhance the learning experience.

If you decide to purchase the Complete Written Knowledge Test Prep Textbook, 7th Edition, and NCRA Certified Realtime Captioner Primer, you will not be disappointed. This is the author’s labor of love since 1990. The care with which this book was written and updated sets it apart from other test prep books on the market.

Anthony D. Frisolone, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI, is an official court reporter in the Eastern District of New York. He can be reached at AFrisolone@aol.com.

Dreaming of earning the CRC? Convention is the place

Realtime captioning is an in-demand skill for court reporters. Earning the CRC will allow those who possess it to present themselves as among the most elite and qualified captioners.

The two-day workshop followed by the Written Knowledge Test will be offered again this year at the NCRA Convention & Expo. Attendees will learn how to perfect the set-up and operation of their equipment, convert their files to ASCII text files, and gain a solid foundation for understanding what it takes to be a captioner.

To fully earn the CRC, candidates must complete three steps:

  1. Attend the CRC Workshop which is offered Thursday and Friday, Aug. 2 and 3.
  2. Take the CRC Skills Test (literary matter at 180 wpm), which is offered online and can be taken anytime.
  3. Take the written knowledge test (50 questions), which can be taken at Convention following the CRC Workshop or at a Pearson VUE testing center in October (registration opens in September).

Online registration for Convention ends on July 23, but the CRC Workshop and on-site CRC Written Knowledge Test are expected to sell out before then. Register today!

 

The 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo is the place to earn new certifications

Professionals seeking to add nationally recognized certifications to their résumés can choose from several opportunities to work toward them at the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo being held Aug. 2-5 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, in New Orleans, La.

This year’s scheduled event is all-inclusive, offering workshops, sessions, and Learning Zones sure to appeal to anyone working in the court reporting, captioning, or legal videography professions, and offering added opportunities for attendees to mingle and network.

Go for that certification

For those interested in learning how to pass the Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR), a three-hour-long boot camp is available on Aug. 2. The CRR is recognized in the industry as the national certification of realtime competency. Taught by Kathryn Sweeney, FAPR, RMR, CRR, who helped develop the boot camp program, the course has enabled many to successfully pass the test on the first take. Sweeney is a freelance reporter and agency owner from Acton, Mass.

In the course, Sweeney explains the testing requirements, covers NCRA’s What is an Error?, discusses what is not an error, and talks about the new online testing process. She also offers tips for self-preparation, including what to have on test day, what to do and not do on test day, and how and why candidates fail. Participants in the session should bring their equipment with them so they can take a couple of practice tests and learn how to adjust their system settings and dictionary entries. Skills testing for the CRR is offered online.

Going for the Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) certification? There’s a 10-hour Workshop for this being held Aug. 2 and Aug. 3, and it’s the first step toward earning the CRC. The workshop will help prep you to be ready to take the Written Knowledge Test being offered at this year’s Convention & Expo. The required Skills Test can be taken anytime online.

Leading the CRC workshop are Carol Studenmund, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a broadcast captioner based in Portland, Ore., and Heidi Thomas, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner from Acworth, Ga.

Attend the Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS) Certification Workshop on Aug. 4 for an overview of what it means to be a legal videographer. The workshop also includes a hands-on segment to help candidates better prepare to take the mandatory workshop offered online and the required in-person production exam held twice a year at NCRA Headquarters in Reston, Va.

The CLVS program sets and enforces standards for competency in the capture, use, and retention of legal video and promotes awareness of these standards within the legal marketplace.

Learning Zones

This year’s schedule also features an array of Learning Zones designed to appeal to attendees across the board. For example, current CLVSs are encouraged to attend the sessions Deposition Audio – Teamwork between the Court Reporter and Videographer, Market Yourself, and Adding PIP to your video deposition.

Students who attend will have the opportunity to participate in a Steno Speed Dating session, a special meet and greet with NCRA’s Board of Directors, an online skills testing prep, and hear from the perspective of a new professional what they didn’t learn in court reporting school.

Other Learning Zones feature business-related sessions such as Financial Wellness in the Gig Economy, Ethics Jeopardy, and Secrets to Success as a Freelancer.

NCRA’s 2018 Convention & Expo is the largest annual gathering of court reporters, captioners, scopists, legal videographers, trial presenters, students, and other legal services professionals.

Register now for the 2018 NCRA Annual Convention & Expo before July 23 to avoid late fees. Reserve a hotel room at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans using NCRA’s special discount rate by July 6 and get a free breakfast on Friday and Saturday (a $75 value).

To jazz things up even more, check out this party playlist of songs selected by NCRA staff to get everyone excited to meet in New Orleans!

For more information about the 2018 NCRA Annual Convention & Expo, or to register, visit NCRA.org/Convention.

For information about sponsorship opportunities, contact Mary Petto, Senior Director of External Affairs at mpetto@ncra.org.

 

 

10 reminders about the importance of earning and maintaining certifications

Marybeth Everhart

As a follow-up to NCRA’s first Celebrate Certification Month held in May, the article below written by Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE, national marketing manager for Realtime Coach, is meant as a reminder of the importance of earning and maintaining certifications.

Everhart is also on the schedule to present at NCRA’s 2018 Convention & Expo being held Aug. 2-5 in New Orleans, La. Her sessions will include: “Certification: Everything You Wanted to Know and More”; “Online Testing Skills”; and a special vendor showcase that will focus on the latest developments with Realtime Coach.


By Marybeth Everhart

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, certification is “proof or a document proving that someone is qualified for a particular job,” and those credentials are typically on display after the professional’s name.  When you see “MD,” “RN,” or “CPA,” you know that those folks have not only completed a higher level of education but have also studied for and passed a rigorous exam. Professional credentials, or those cryptic initials behind someone’s name, identify that individual as someone dedicated to his or her chosen profession and prepared to uphold a certain set of standards. It signals to the world that this person has achieved something of note or importance. Most people certified in their profession will say that attaining that certification was the single most important step they took in career development.

These statements apply to all professions where certifications are attainable, court reporting included. If you’ve thought about that next NCRA certification but haven’t made the move yet, here are 10 reasons why you should:

  1. Certification demonstrates commitment to your profession. Receiving a certification shows your peers, supervisors, and the general public how committed you are to your reporting career, along with how well you perform to set standards. Certification sets you apart as a leader in your field.
  2. Certification enhances the overall image of the profession. NCRA certification programs seek to grow, promote, and develop certified professionals who can stand “out in front” as examples of excellence in the industry. Think of those you admire in this field and make note of the credentials they display, with pride. It’s unlikely that any of them lack a string of letters after their names.
  3. Certifications are portable. Those credentials can travel with you anywhere and can open doors to employment opportunities you may not have even considered yet. An RPR, for instance, is preferred for many officialships and signals to freelance firms that you can be trusted with their clients and challenging jobs. Currently, 22 states either accept or use the RPR in place of their state certification or exam.
  4. Certification builds self-esteem. NCRA certifications create a performance standard for the profession. You’ll see yourself as a certified professional who has some control over his or her own professional destiny and find a deep sense of personal satisfaction and accomplishment.
  5. Certification establishes professional credentials. Since it recognizes your individual accomplishments, certification stands above your résumé, serving as an impartial, third-party endorsement of your knowledge and expertise. When the public looks for individuals qualified to perform certain services, they seek individuals – like you – who have achieved certification. You can bet that firm owners and court personnel will favor those with credentials over those without.
  6. Certification improves career opportunities and advancement. Certification gives you the “edge” when being considered for a promotion or other career opportunities. Certification clearly identifies you as a person who can adapt to changes in work, technology, business practices, and innovation.
  7. Certification helps you market your services. Since certification is a voluntary professional commitment to our industry, it’s a clear indicator of your willingness to invest in your own professional development. The process of maintaining your certification exposes you to the constantly changing environment this profession faces and helps provide the tools needed to anticipate and respond to those changes. Being certified in today’s reporting environment is as important as it’s ever been.
  8. Certification provides for greater earnings potential. As a certified professional, you can expect many benefits, but in today’s downsized, rightsized, topsy-turvy working world, salary increases speak for themselves. Official reporters often receive a pay raise by attaining their realtime certification, and certified freelancers typically are given the better, higher paying jobs.
  9. Certification improves skills and knowledge. Achieving certification highlights your individual competence by confirming proficiency, knowledge, and career commitment. The Written Knowledge Tests require research and study to familiarize yourself with current reporting technology, as well as reporting and professional practices. The Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) demonstrates your proficiency at entry-level reporting skill and knowledge, while the Registered Merit Reporter (RMR) establishes not only your continued commitment to the profession, but also your interest in reaching and sustaining an exceptional level of skill and knowledge.  The Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR) and Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) authenticate your realtime skills to yourself and those seeking your services and expertise.
  10. Certification offers greater professional recognition from peers. Hear that applause? It’s all for you! As a certified professional, you can expect increased recognition from your peers for taking that extra step in your professional development. Let’s face it, we all like to add those ribbons to our name badges at convention — the longer the list, the better!

The myths, mysteries, and misunderstandings of legal video

Talk Daily News posted an article on May 24 that notes, for the best experience using a legal videographer, firms should chose professionals who hold the NCRA CLVS certification.

Read more.

NCRA headquarters hosts TAC Committee meeting

Members of NCRA’s Test Advisory Committee (TAC) met at the Association’s headquarters in Reston, Va., April 6-8 to vet and approve skills exams for the RPR, RMR, CRR, and CRC. They wrote exams from 8:30-5:30 Friday and Saturday and 9-1 on Sunday, before taking time to view area cherry trees and their blossoms, which were in full bloom.

A total of 87 tests were submitted for review by the Skills Committee and TAC over the weekend, resulting in 71 tests being written and 62 being approved.

Test Advisory Committee

The Skills Test Writing Committee writes content for the RPR, RMR, CRR, and CRC exams, while TAC writes and selects the skills tests for the same certifications. TAC also sets the standards for the RPR and RDR Written Knowledge Tests.

Members of TAC who wrote perfect tests were also recognized at the meeting with a Shirley Award. The award was named for Shirley Hall, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI, CPE, an official court reporter from Pittsburgh Pa., and a former TAC member, who commonly wrote perfect tests. Tests are considered perfect when the word count and syllabic density are flawless, and they are written smoothly by the test taker.

Wade Garner receives Shirley Award from Chris Willette

The following members were recognized with a Shirley Award at the April meeting:

  • TAC Co-chair Wade S. Garner, RPR, CPE, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • Anne M. Bowline RMR, CRR, Casper, Wyo., a member of the Skills Content Writing Committee
  • Russell Page, Jr., Washington, D.C., a member of the Skills Content Writing Committee
  • Lisa Reed Wiesman, RDR, CRR, CRC, Fairfield, Ohio, a member of the Skills Content Writing Committee

Other members from TAC who attended the April meeting were:

  • Co-chair Diane L. Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, CPE, Oro Valley, Ariz.
  • Robin Cooksey, RMR, Houston, Texas
  • Holly Kapacinskas, RPR, CRR, Debary, Fla.
  • Donna J. Karoscik, RDR, CRR, CRC, Pickerington, Ohio
  • Deborah A. Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Karyn D. Menck, RDR, CRR, CRC, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Janice Plomp, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI, St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
  • Kelli Ann Willis, RPR, CRR, Miami, Fla.
  • NCRA President Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, Wausau, Wis., who serves as TAC’s Board liaison.
  • TAC member Rhonda Hall Breuwet, RDR, CRR, Lakeland, Fla., was unable to attend.