NCRA member in the news

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on Oct. 22, that NCRA member Marjorie Peters, RMR, CRR, a freelance court reporter and firm owner from Pittsburgh, Pa., was awarded the Santo J. Aurelio Award for Altruism. The post was generated by a press release issued by NCRA on Peters behalf.

Read more.

Gift card winner for early renewal is longtime member

By Brenda Gill

Lorrie Marchant

Lorrie L. Marchant, RMR, CRR, CRC, a freelance court reporter from Petaluma, Calif., is the winner of a $100 Amazon gift card for renewing her NCRA membership early.

Marchant, a long-time member, was entered into the special drawing along with others who renewed their NCRA membership in September.

“At the strong recommendation of one of my beloved instructors at the College of Marin, Indian Valley Campus, Calif., I joined NCRA while I was attending court reporting school, and have remained a continuous member ever since,” Marchant said.

“I have been a freelance deposition reporter since September 1994 in the great San Francisco Bay area. I have loved the flexibility and variability of the work (most of the time anyway), as well as exercising/challenging my brain with a very wide variety of subject matters and increased knowledge on a wide spectrum of topics. The income has been great, and I have been able to be present for my beloved kids, Sophia and Cooper, throughout the years during important and/or memorable events. I love being my own boss,” she added.

Member benefits continue to include:

  • A listing* in both the print and online versions of the NCRA Sourcebook
  • A subscription to the JCR Magazine and the JCR Weekly
  • Multiple certification programs with online skills tests designed to make you more money
  • Access to discounted group insurance programs through Mercer for personal liability and errors and omissions
  • Member pricing to can’t-miss networking and educational events at the NCRA Convention & Expo (Aug. 15-18, 2019) and NCRA Business Summit (Feb. 1-3, 2019), formerly known as the Firm Owners Executive Conference
  • First-class online educational opportunities

Members who renew in October enjoy the following benefits:

  • It’s green; less mail to you.
  • It’s clutter-free; fewer reminder emails to your inbox.
  • It’s beneficial; your benefits are not interrupted.
  • It’s a chance to win a $100 Pengad gift certificate.

Renewing is easy and available online at NCRA.org/renew or by calling 800-272-6272. Members can expect to receive their membership card via email within approximately two weeks of renewing if they have a valid email address and have not previously opted out of Constant Contact email messaging.

Brenda Gill is NCRA’s Membership Manager. She can be reached at bgill@ncra.org.

* Registered, Participating, and Associate members are eligible for this benefit.

Recoup your NCRA dues with member discounts

By Natalie Dippenaar

According to Chase Cost Management, workers in the legal professions spend an average of $1,000 per person per year on office supplies. That is a lot of folders, pens, and sticky notes. If those figures hold true for the professions of court reporting and captioning, NCRA members can easily recoup their annual NCRA membership dues just by taking advantage of the discounts available from Office Depot through the NCRA Saving Center.

NCRA Saving Center discounts provide members with savings up to 80 percent on office essentials. Some recent deals include a pack of 12 legal writing pads for $31.22 at Office Depot. That’s a savings of $54.07, which is a great discount off what you pay for membership. Buy a few and you could recoup the cost of your NCRA membership just with legal pads. Of course, many other types of office supplies are available at discounted rates, including items like K-cups and hand soap, so it’s easy for the savings to add up. To sign up for this free benefit of NCRA membership, visit NCRA.savingcenter.net.

Other professional discounts available to NCRA members through the Saving Center include up to 20 percent off ADP payroll services, credit card processing rates less than 1 percent, discounted online accounting services, and unbeatable collection agency pricing. Personal discounts available to members include up to 75 percent savings on prescription drugs not covered by insurance, cash back on more than 1,200 stores every time you shop online at the Rewards Mall, 24/7 telemedicine and health discounts, and up to 60 percent savings on tickets to top attractions, theme parks, shows, sporting events, dining, movies, hotels, and much more.

NCRA membership is a bargain. The benefits of membership greatly outweigh the annual dues investment. We know you didn’t join NCRA for the discounts on things like office supplies, but we hope you will take advantage of the deals available to you. We work hard to deliver member value and help NCRA members save money every day.

Natalie Dippenaar is NCRA’s Assistant Director of Member Relations. Questions about NCRA’s Saving Center can be directed to membership@ncra.org.

Call for presentations open for 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo

Kensie Benoit and Clay Frazier present at the NCRA Convention & Expo

Kensie Benoit and Clay Frazier present at the NCRA Convention & Expo

NCRA has issued a call for presentations for the 2019 Convention & Expo which is the largest gathering of captioners and court reporters in the United States. Presentations on a variety of topics, including state and federal regulations, speedbuilding, marketing, health and wellness, trends in technology, and software training, are being sought for the event, which will be held Aug. 15-18 in Denver, Colo.

“Presenting is a great opportunity and platform to share your experiences and knowledge with other working court reporters, captioners, and legal videographers. Our peers make a wonderful, welcoming audience,” says Merilee Johnson, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelance reporter and CART captioner based in Eden Prairie, Minn., who co-chairs the NCRA Education Content Committee. “If you have expertise surrounding a certain topic, such as realtime, ethics, or technology, or if you have lessons to share from your experience in the field, consider becoming an NCRA presenter.  There’s no better resource than learning from our fellow working reporters and firm owners.”

Johnson, who has presented sessions on realtime, technology, and captioning in the past for national events, says that becoming a presenter helped her meet new people and make connections that aided her career. Stepping up to be a speaker also boosted her confidence and helped shift her perspective. “It was a wonderful experience for me personally,” Johnson adds. “It helped me grow in ways I did not expect.”

Visit NCRA.org/presentations for more information or to submit a presentation for consideration.

NCRA members support students attendance at NCRA Convention & Expo

NCRA thanks the many people who donated additional funds to offset the expenses for students who attended the 2018 Convention & Expo. The collected funds enabled NCRA to offer a great price for students attending the convention.

Eric Allen

Judith A. Ammons, RPR, CRR

Dora Canizales

Debra K. Cheyne

Donna Collins, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC

Virginia Dodge, RDR, CRR

Carol Farrell, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI

Sharon A. Hamilton, RMR (Ret.)

Gayl Hardeman, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI

Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC

Martha Hyland, RMR

Fred W. Jeske, RMR, CRR

Deeann Johnson

Jen Krueger, FAPR, RMR, CRI, CPE

Kelly Linkowski, RPR, CRR, CRC, CPE

Lotus Lui, RPR

Laura Meyncke

Carol Mixon, RMR

Sandra Narup, RPR

Karen Nickel, RPR, CRR, CRC

Anissa Nierenberger, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI

Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR

Taunia Northouse, RDR, CRR, CRC

Catherine J. Phillips, FAPR, RMR, CMRS

Janice Plomp, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI

Marie Runyon, RMR, CRR

Nancy Samms

Laurie Shingle, RMR, CMRS

Christen Sutherland, RPR

Kathryn Thomas, RDR, CRR, CRC

Dominick Tursi, CM

Karen Tyler, RDR, CRR, CRC

Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR

Sharon Pell Velazco, RPR

Denise Vickery, RMR, CRR

Karen Yates, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC

Stephen Zinone, RPR

Douglas Zweizig, RDR, CRR

NCRA A to Z Program offered in Oklahoma

Tulsa World reported on Sept. 30 that the Oklahoma Court Reporters Association is holding a free NCRA A TO ZTM Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program beginning Oct. 8.

Read more.

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!

 

What NCRA means to me

Lynette Mueller, FAPR, RDR, CRR

Lynette Mueller

I love gathering inspiration from others and notable quotes from strong individuals. When I was asked to provide my insight for an article about membership, the following quote from Colin Powell sprung to mind and resonated with me:

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.”

Now, you may ask: What does that famous quote have to do with membership?

My court reporting career has spanned over 35 years — a long one, for sure. My path has seen many obstacles and wins throughout that time. Providing realtime reporting was my number one goal in my professional life, and it’s definitely taken a lot of “sweat, determination, and hard work.” One of the major influences and constants over the last 35 years has been, and always will be, membership in my professional association — the National Court Reporters Association!

Were it not for NCRA and the many benefits it offers, I would not be the court reporting professional I am today. As we all know, court reporters can sometimes lead a solitary path at times, because a lot of us work from our home-based office. Sure, we have interaction with legal professionals and witnesses. But, for the most part, it is definitely a solitary environment, as the bulk of our transcript production is done at home.

NCRA offers many additional benefits to its members. Some of the most important reasons, in my opinion, for maintaining membership in our organization are the following:

Networking
While most may think of networking as a means of garnering future business, I look at it a little bit differently. I view “networking” with my fellow NCRA members as an excellent resource to gain advice, information, and guidance about many subjects that we face on a daily basis as court reporters. This guidance has helped me greatly to be the successful reporter I am today.

Professional Development
My national certifications are very important to me, and I’ve worked hard to earn them! Those “three little letters” behind my name are a conversation starter with potential new clients. It’s my opportunity to tout my skills and professionalism and to educate the public about court reporters. The testing for certifications has helped me validate my skill as a court reporter and carries clout in our profession.

Updates on Industry Information
NCRA does a fantastic job with recruiting volunteers (myself included) to serve on committees and bring the membership relevant and up-to-date information on technology and other industry standards. It’s so refreshing to be able to have a go-to source for current information. The NCRA.org website, JCR print, and TheJCR.com are fantastic sources of information!

Continuing Education Opportunities
NCRA brings the best and brightest professionals in our industry to share their knowledge and expertise at their Annual Convention, live webinars, and online webinars. NCRA is my go-to source.

I chose my profession when I was a sophomore in high school — best decision ever! I urge every court reporter to choose membership in our professional association, the NCRA. Choose your organization wisely. It can further your career in ways beyond your expectations, give you the tools and resources to set you up for future success, and gain a leg up over the competition!

NCRA member shares how teenage intern inspires court employees while chasing her dream

Television station KRQE, Albuquerque, N.M., aired a story on Sept. 17 that features NCRA member Diona Gibson, RPR, an official court reporter for the Bernalillo County District Court, sharing her experience with a summer intern who was born blind and plans to become a court reporter.

Read more.

Renew in September to be entered in a giveaway drawing

By Brenda Gill

Members who renew their NCRA memberships in September are offered an additional enticement: The chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card. Members who renew before September 30 will automatically be entered into the drawing, and the winner will be notified by the NCRA membership department.

Members benefit by renewing early.
It’s green; less mail to you.
It’s clutter-free; fewer reminder emails to your inbox.
It’s beneficial; your benefits are not interrupted.

Member benefits continue to include:

  • A listing* in both the print and online versions of the NCRA Sourcebook
  • A subscription to the JCR magazine and the JCR Weekly
  • Multiple certification programs with online skills tests designed to make you more money
  • Access to discounted group insurance programs through Mercer for personal liability and errors and omissions
  • Member pricing to can’t-miss networking and educational events at the NCRA Convention & Expo (Aug. 15-18, 2019) and Business Summit (Feb. 1-3, 2019), formerly known as the Firm Owners Executive Conference
  • First-class online educational opportunities

Renewing is easy and available online at NCRA.org/renew. Members can expect to receive their membership card via email within approximately two weeks of renewing if they have a valid email address and have not previously opted out of Constant Contact email messaging.

Brenda Gill is NCRA’s Membership Manager. She can be reached at bgill@ncra.org.

* Registered, Participating, and Associate members are eligible for this benefit.