What we learned at TAC

Members of NCRA's Test Advisory Committee. Karyn Menck attended remotely.

Members of NCRA’s Test Advisory Committee. Karyn Menck attended remotely.

By Chris Willette

The Test Advisory Committee (TAC) met June 8-11 at NCRA headquarters in Reston, Va., to work on test creation for upcoming online testing opportunities. As Board liaison, I was fortunate to attend and participate in the process.

TAC is supported by two other committees: the Skills Test Writing Committee and Written Knowledge Test Committee. The volunteers of these three groups work all year long to provide vetted questions for the Written Knowledge Tests as well as “takes” for the Skills Tests of the NCRA certification programs.

Along with the work of TAC comes the opportunity to learn new things and share ideas about briefs and theories. There is also a lot of laughter along the way. Once we realized that there was so much valuable information, we decided to keep a list of what we thought members might not know.

Hint: We learned these things while preparing future tests. You might want to pay attention!

  • X-ray as a noun is capitalized; as a verb, Merriam-Webster shows it with no capitalization.
  • Pawnshop is one word.
  • Dumpster is capitalized.
  • Canceling/cancelling and traveling/travelling are both acceptable as correct spellings.
  • Curveball is one word.

 

Briefs

central STRAL
Central Avenue STRAEF
exchange CH
good evening GAOENG
good luck GLUCK
good morning GORNG
greater weight of the evidence GRAEFD
keep in mind KAOEMD
iPad P*AD
iPhone FO*EN
iPod P*OD
off the top of my head FOPD
pain and suffering PUFRG
text message TEJ
volunteer VO

 

Brief groupings

aware WAUR
aware of WAUFR
are you aware RAUR
are you aware of RAUFR
are you aware of the RAUFRT
were you aware WRAUR
were you aware of WRAUFR
were you aware of the WRAUFRT
left arm LARM
right arm RARM
left leg LLG
right leg RLG
shoulder SHOURLD
left shoulder LOURLD
right shoulder ROURLD

 

Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, is the 2016-2017 NCRA President-Elect and a freelance reporter in Wausau, Wis. She can be reached at cwillette2@gmail.com.

 

Sign up for the Written Knowledge Test

Photo by Ryan Hyde

Photo by Ryan Hyde

Registration opens March 1 for the Written Knowledge Tests for the RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS certifications. Candidates have until March 31 to register, and the testing period is April 8 to 20.

After registering, candidates will receive a confirmation email within three business days with information about scheduling a testing location, day, and time with Pearson Vue. If you do not receive the confirmation email, please email testing@ncra.org. Candidates will need to present photo ID when signing into the testing center, so it’s critical that the first and last name on a candidate’s photo ID match their NCRA record. Candidates whose name does not match will not be allowed to test. Update your record now.

Testing center slots fill up quickly, so it is important to register as soon as possible. Candidates may register here. For more information on NCRA certification programs, visit NCRA.org/certifications.

The latest news on online testing

OnlineTesting2By Marybeth Everhart

By now you have likely heard that, beginning in 2015, NCRA skills tests will be moved online. (May 2 will be the last brick-and-mortar testing.) But what exactly does that mean and how does it affect you, if at all? No doubt, you have lots of questions, so let’s try to answer them.

What is online testing?

What online testing means is that you will no longer be required to travel to a testing location at a date and time specified by NCRA, and you will have more than two or three testing opportunities per year. Instead, you will be able to schedule your test — RPR, RMR, CRR, CBC, or CCP — for a day and time that best suits your schedule and preparedness level. Are you a morning person and feel you are at your best at 6 a.m.? Then schedule your certification exam for 6 a.m. Or do you prefer to stay up late and want an 11:30 p.m. test? Maybe Saturday at 3 p.m. is best because your spouse, kids, and family pets will be out of the house and you can concentrate. Whatever suits your schedule best is what works!

How many tests can I take each year?

Will the test still be offered just three times a year? Nope, the tests will no longer be comprised of just three testing events each year — May, November, and August. Instead, you can take up to six tests per year (twice the current offering), and you’ll receive expedited test results! No more six-week wait for your score and then waiting a couple of months for another shot at the certification. You can take each test twice every four months — again, when you’re ready and feeling confident, you can take a certification exam and receive instant feedback.

Who creates the tests?

All tests are still created by the National Court Reporters Association, but the tests will be delivered online via myRealtimeCoach and proctored by ProctorU.

How do I register for an online test?

Of course, the process will not be exactly the same as it’s always been. That’s what change means: a new approach. Much like you did for a brick-and-mortar test, you go to NCRA.org/testing to register. After completing the registration process, you’ll receive a confirmation email from NCRA with instructions for contacting ProctorU to schedule your test.

What if I don’t need all three legs of the RPR or RMR?

Good news! Now take just the leg or legs you need, and pay for only those legs!

What is ProctorU?

ProctorU is the online proctoring company selected by NCRA to provide live, online proctoring for all future exams. To learn more about them, go to proctoru.com.

How will the tests be delivered?

You’ll go online to take the tests. You will have an online proctor, through ProctorU, confirming your identity. You will log onto myRealtimeCoach.com to access the test(s) you have registered for, and the proctor can confirm you are on the right site if you are unsure. When ready, you will click the “Play” button to play the one-minute warm-up and, again when ready, click the “Play” button to play the audio for the certification test.

Do I need to be a member of myRealtimeCoach in order to take an exam?

No, you do not. If you already have a membership to myRealtimeCoach, then you’ll know where to go, how to log in, and how myRealtimeCoach works, so you’ll be more comfortable on test day; however, membership is not required.

Can I practice on the myRealtimeCoach site prior to testing?

Of course! Again, if you already have a membership to myRealtimeCoach, you are already familiar with the site and the functionality. If you are not a member, you will have access to several sample tests so you can practice and prepare prior to actually taking an exam.

What equipment will I need to test online?

As you would imagine, you’ll need the same equipment you’ve always needed, such as a computer, your writer, and CAT software, but you’ll also need a few more items:

  • Internet access. You can’t go online without it!
  • A gooseneck webcam. Why? Because the proctor will need to see you and the room you are testing in, just as an on-site proctor would. But why a gooseneck and not the one built into my computer? Because the proctor will ask you to do a 360-degree pan of the room and to view your equipment from different angles. That’s nearly impossible to do with your computer, especially with various peripherals attached to it.
  • Why headphones if I’m taking a test by myself? Good question! Two reasons: One, headphones will block out any extraneous noise, like your neighbor’s dog barking or the doorbell ringing and, two, there will be no ambient audio that can be recorded and later listened to or shared with others. Security and test integrity are important!
  • Windows XP or higher and Mac OSX or higher. No DOS computers, please!
  • A Web browser like Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari. The same Web browser you use to access Facebook and Pinterest will work just fine.
  • Adobe Flash Player v11 and Adobe Shockwave Player are recommended plug-ins for your webcam. You likely already have them installed on your computer without even realizing it. If you are unsure, ask any teenager in your life, and he or she can confirm that for you.
  • A shredder. If you prefer to print your transcript to proofread it (RPR and RMR only), you will need to have a shredder handy so you can shred that copy in front of the proctor before completing the testing session.”

OnlineTesting1What else should I know before registering for a test?

As part of the testing process, you’ll need to upload some files. Don’t panic! This is much like attaching a file to an email, but you will need to know where to find your CAT files on your computer and what the file extensions are. For instance, how does your CAT software designate your steno notes and your transcript files? Is it FILENAME.not or FILENAME.sgngl or FILENAME.trp? Most likely, you look at those file extensions every day as you produce transcripts, but perhaps you’ve never paid attention to them. Now would be the time. If you don’t know where your files are kept or what file extensions are used, contact your CAT vendor for assistance, and do so well in advance of taking a test so you are comfortable with the names and locations. For practice, send yourself or your friends emails with note files and transcripts attached so navigating to those locations and finding those files becomes second nature.

How and when will I receive my test results?

When you complete the testing process, you will immediately receive an electronically graded score. That means you will receive the percentage of accuracy determined by the myRealtimeCoach grading engine, which does a word-by-word comparison of your transcript to the master transcript. If your electronic score is below 90 percent, then that is your final grade, meaning that you know instantly that you did not pass. If, however, your electronic grade is 90 percent or higher, your transcript will be reviewed by an NCRA Qualified Grader to confirm your final score. Note that 90 percent is not the required accuracy to pass a certification exam! The RPR and RMR requirements are still 95 percent, and the CRR, CBC, and CCP requirements are still 96 percent. The 90 percent is simply a threshold set to designate the need for a human review of an electronic grading.

It is also worth noting that candidates will have the opportunity to review, at a nominal fee, their graded transcript (with or without a Qualified Grader’s review) to identify the errors made. After all, you cannot improve your skills if you are not aware of the types of errors you are making.

What if I would rather go to a test site?

If you feel you are really a brick-and-mortar kind of test-taker, don’t despair! On-site tests will still be available May 2015, so you have time to prepare. Start prepping now so you’re ready!

What if I have more questions?

NCRA has created an online testing resource center with helpful information on CAT software settings, putting your writer in test mode, security questions, and much more. Access those resources by going to NCRA.org/testing.

Marybeth Everhart, MA, RPR, CRI, CPE, is the national marketing manager at Realtime Coach, a realtime trainer, and former court reporter. She can be reached at meverhart@learnrealtime.com.

Testing registration is now open

Registration is now open for certification exams. There are different dates for the written knowledge and skills test, and some certifications require a seminar. Spots fill up early, so it is important to register as soon as possible. Candidates may register here.

The dates to remember are:

  • Mar. 3 – Registration opens
  • Apr. 7 – Registration deadline
  • Apr. 9-21 – Written knowledge tests
  • May 3 – Skills test day

The following certifications require a written knowledge test, which will be offered from April 9-21: RPR, RDR, CBC, CCP, and CLVS.

The following certifications require a skills test, which will be offered May 3: RPR, RMR, CRR, CBC, and CCP.

Note that the CLVS Exam requires candidates to attend a seminar, which is only offered twice a year. Candidates may take this seminar at the NCRA TechCon from April 11-13. Registration for this seminar ends March 21. Candidates must also pass a production skills test; this registration will be open at the end of May and the test will be in June. CLVS candidates may complete their written knowledge test and production skills test in either order, but they must complete the seminar first. Register for TechCon here.

For more information on NCRA certification programs, visit ncra.org/certifications.

Your guide to preparing for certification exams

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to get your next certification? We have your guide for preparing for the exams. The February issue of the JCR includes a candidate handbook with information on all the certifications. Review the specific certification you’re studying for in the handbook to find out what to expect.

 

4 – 6 months before

Decide which certification you want to earn this year. Some of the exams take more preparation than others. The CLVS certification, for example, has a two-day instructional seminar that is only offered twice a year, in the spring and the fall.

Begin studying. The testing department has put together a job analysis for each certification. The job analysis discusses the purpose and benefits of the certification, as well as required skills and knowledge, including recommended study materials. These are available online without cost at www.ncra.org/testing. Candidates who are studying for the RPR or RMR exams can also purchase speedbuilding CDs and downloads through the NCRA store.

Perhaps this is also an opportunity to encourage a friend who has been meaning to earn his or her own certifications. Set up a schedule and challenge each other. Swap study and practice material.

Now is also the time to think about when you want to take your tests. Registration opens a few months before the test dates, but it helps to register early.

 

2 – 4 months before

If you haven’t yet, register for your exam. This is a good time to double-check what name you used for your NCRA membership. Names will need to match exactly. If you were married in the past year and changed your legal name, for example, this would be a good time to make sure you’ve changed the name on both your identification and your NCRA membership.

Once you register, you should expect a confirmation within three business days. If your certification includes a written knowledge test component (RPR, RDR, CBC, CCP, CLVS), you can then schedule your WKT – locations can fill up early! If you will need special accommodations, put in those requests to the testing department.

If you want the depth of your keys changed before you start the exam, schedule that now. Your fingers will get used to the new depth as you continue practicing.

Check your progress according to your study/practice plan. Are you on track? If you’re having a hard time practicing on your own, find a court reporting school nearby and see if you can practice with some of the classes. You might inspire some of the students!

 

1 – 2 months before

This is a good time to make sure you’re comfortable with your equipment. This is especially important for certifications that require specialized technical knowledge, like the CBC, CCP, and CLVS exams. Practice setting up with your main equipment and your back-up equipment. If anything needs to be added or replaced, do it now so you can become familiar with it. This is also true of software.

Try a practice test online. NCRA is partnered with myRealtimeCoach for online testing. You can set up your computer, CAT software, and Internet settings (and save them!). The practice text will also give you a score and feedback on mistakes. Use the username and password provided to you when you registered for the exam.

Build your dictionary. Keep track of common mistakes and develop briefs to help you avoid those on test day.

 

1 week – 1 month before

Make sure you know how to get to the testing site. If possible, do a test drive so you are comfortable with the route, traffic patterns, and parking.

Work out those test nerves. Find ways to encourage yourself and build confidence. Also, make sure you’re taking care of yourself. If you feel your best, you’ll be able to do your best.

Keep practicing!

 

1 day before

Check your email inbox and the exam site information page on NCRA’s testing website for any last-minute updates or changes.

Pack your bag with the materials you need to bring to your test. Double check that you have all the appropriate equipment, including back-ups if necessary. Also make sure that you have your identification, your confirmation email, and your chief examiner contact information (found on the NCRA testing website).

Get a good night’s sleep! Good luck!

NCRA Certification Notes

WRITTEN KNOWLEDGE EXAMINATION NOTES

The next RPR and CLVS written knowledge tests will be offered July 8-20. The registration period opens June 4 and will close July 3. For more information, please visit the NCRA Certification Test Center at NCRA.org/testing.

Please note that the registration process for the written knowledge test requires registration first with NCRA. Within 72 hours of receipt of your paid registration for the written knowledge test by NCRA, you will receive your email confirmation. Upon receipt of your confirmation from NCRA, you will then need to contact Pearson VUE to schedule the actual date, time, and location to go to a Pearson Vue Professional Test Center to take the written knowledge test.

IMPORTANT REMINDERS FOR TEST CANDIDATES

If you’re planning to sit for an upcoming skills examination or written knowledge test, please make note of the following reminders:

  • NCRA testing is for stenographic reporters only.
  • The name on your photo ID and the name you register with to sit for an NCRA examination must match to gain entrance to the testing facility.
  • Examination registration cancellations and/or registration requests for test site changes must be submitted in writing by the deadline, using the NCRA cancellation/site change form found online at www.ncra.org/testing. Registration fees will not be refunded for cancellations received after the registration deadline, and site change requests cannot be accommodated after the registration deadline.
  • To ensure that your test materials are available at the test site you register for, please adhere to the examination registration deadlines.

NEED MORE INFORMATION?

The NCRA website (NCRA.org) contains the most comprehensive information on the RPR, RMR, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, and CLVS credentials. You can also call NCRA’s Member Services and Information Center toll-free at 800-272- 6272. Or feel free to email the NCRA Department of Certification and Testing at testing@ncra.org.

Best of luck in your pursuit of professional credentialing and certification!