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.

NCRA Kindle Fire winner announced

By Jennifer Late

More prizes available for membership renewal

A record number of members have renewed their 2017 membership in October. These renewals were driven in part by a chance to win a Kindle Fire.

NCRA membership renewal Kindle Fire winner

The lucky winner for October 2016 is Karla Jagusch, RPR, of Overland Park, Kan. She has been a court reporter for over 38 years, 36 of which she has been an official court reporter for the First and Tenth Judicial Districts of the State of Kansas. Karla explains why she renewed her membership: “I feel it is important and my obligation to support the association that supports me as a court reporter.”

Click here to renew now!

Photo by: Erik Araujo. Used and adapted with permission via Creative Commons

Renew before Dec. 1 and be entered to win

Members still have a chance to be rewarded for renewing before Dec. 1. NCRA will give away an upgraded Premium Plus listing on the online NCRA Sourcebook. Any Registered, Participating, or Associate member who has renewed before Dec. 1 will have their name entered into a drawing for this upgraded listing for January through December 2017.

NCRA continues to work for its members

  • Online skills testing: Whether you are just starting testing for your RPR or going for your CRC or another advanced certification, you can now complete your skills tests from the comfort of your own home. With more opportunities to test, you will be able to achieve your certification goals faster and increase your earning potential.
  • CRC Workshop & Certification: Based on member demand for more training in the field, NCRA created the new Certified Realtime Captioner program designed just for captioners.
  • FCC Captioning Quality Standards: NCRA’s Government Relations team has been working with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Alliance and the Federal Communications Commission to develop new captioning quality standards.
  • Increased online education opportunities: NCRA has expanded its first-class educational programming via webinars and e-seminars vetted to ensure they meet the needs of the marketplace. New online webinars and e-seminars are added each month for members to purchase, view, and earn CEUs.
  • Exhibiting at the ABA TechShow: NCRA has been advocating for you with judges, attorneys, paralegals, clerks, and other legal professionals. With a focus on what your certifications mean and the value of realtime, NCRA is raising the overall awareness of the profession with the people who matter.
  • For CLVS members: A stronger CLVS emphasis was added to the NCRA Convention & Expo, helping videographers network directly with the court reporting membership. By popular demand, new seminars and webinars were created to help CLVSs stay on the cutting edge of technology.

NCRA membership cards

In an effort to embrace technology, NCRA will continue our practice of sending only electronic membership cards to members via email. Members can expect to receive their membership card within approximately four weeks of renewing if they have a valid email address and have not previously opted out of Constant Contact email messaging.

Jennifer Late is NCRA’s Membership & Marketing Manager. She can be reached at jlate@ncra.org.

NCRA online testing met with enthusiasm

OnlineTesting1In August, NCRA launched the long-awaited online skills testing platforms for candidates of the RPR, RMR, CRR, CRC, CBC, and CCP certifications. The program, which is a partnership between NCRA, Realtime Coach, and ProctorU, has been met with positive responses from many who have taken online tests.

Benefits of the new online testing program include a user-friendly and secure system, more testing opportunities annually, instantaneous results, greater affordability, and the convenience of testing in the location of the candidate’s choosing, including at home or in the office.

“NCRA takes seriously the need to develop and administer objective and valid exams that meet the needs of its members,” said Mike Nelson, CAE, NCRA CEO and Executive Director. “The new online platform for certification testing meets the needs of today’s member.”

“My testing experience was great,” said NCRA member Jessica Croxford, RPR, a freelance reporter from West Jordan, Utah, who recently took an online skills test. “It was a very easy and smooth process. I’ve been attempting the RPR for two years now, and being able to test without the stress of getting to the testing location and hauling a printer and all my equipment around was extremely helpful in doing so well on the test.”

Additional security measures required by the online system include candidates signing a mandatory confidentiality form that indicates that the subject and words of the test will not be disclosed to other candidates, and proctors that are connected to candidates in real time, with live audio and video connections that include a view and live feed of the candidate’s monitor through screen-sharing technology. Candidates are also required to use an external webcam to show that their workspace is secure by giving a 360-degree pan of the entire room and desk or workspace.

“It has been rewarding to see that the new online skills platform has been well received by members who have expressed appreciation for its flexibility and convenience. I strongly encourage every test taker to read through the information on our website before registering for the test as all the successful candidates have done, and to also take advantage of the free practice test with a proctor,” said Irene Cahill, NCRA Director of Professional Development Technology.

“I am so excited about the online testing. We didn’t have brick-and-mortar testing in my area, so it is a huge convenience to be able to do it online,” said Sherene Hunt, RPR, CRR, a freelance reporter from Victoria, B.C., Canada. “I thought the instructions were great and easy to follow — the CRR went very smoothly.”

Under the new online system, NCRA will allow candidates to take up to three skills tests per quarter in 2016, and up to four tests per quarter in 2017. For information about the schedule for the remainder of 2015, visit NCRA’s online skills testing schedule.

Read more about NCRA’s online skills testing. Register for an online skills test.

Stop by NCRA’s booths to learn about the latest news from benefits to legislation to testing

Those attending the 2014 NCRA Convention & Expo in San Francisco this July 31 – Aug. 3 should make a point of stopping by NCRA’s booths in the Exhibit Hall. Attendees should stop by NCRA’s Membership Booth to learn what the association is doing for the court reporting profession, as well as pick up a fun giveaway. NCRA representatives will be available to answer questions about the latest pushes for closed captioning regulations and laws affecting court reporting on the federal and state level at the Government Relations Booth. In addition, you can get your picture taken with a famous political figure. Don’t miss NCRA’s Store, returning with selected items for this year’s convention, including NCRA’s official convention T-shirts, reference guides, several new items, and the debut of NCRA’s new book, Court Reporting Survival Guide: Student Success Stories. While there, attendees can contribute to NCRA’s next book in the Survival series about maintaining a work-life balance and receive a gift.

NCRA will also be explaining and demonstrating the shift to online proctoring and testing. Visit the NCRA Testing Booth, alongside RealtimeCoach and ProctorU, on the Expo floor (Booths 801/803). The new model of online proctoring and testing will bring many benefits like increased testing opportunities while maintaining a secure test environment for candidates.

NCRA’s Realtime Resource Booth, developed by NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator team, will offer attendees the chance to get their realtime questions answered. From streaming to software to troubleshooting challenges, the realtime experts will get reporters set up and running toward the goal of realtime all the time. Attendees can schedule a session for $25.

It’s not too late to register; find more information about NCRA’s Convention & Expo.

 

You’ve got this!

34-35How many times had I heard “you’ve got this!” during the 13 attempts it took me to finally pass the California Certified Shorthand Reporter examination? Many on Facebook or On the Cheap and Sleazy Side, an online court reporting newsletter, read my narrative about my journey through court reporting school. For those of you who didn’t, I would like to inspire you to never give up on your dreams.

I started theory in 1984. I eventually had to quit day school. I found a full-time job, and I went to night school for about 10 years, during which I made no progress. Furthermore, I had some mean-spirited bosses whom I allowed to make my life miserable.

I had about four surgeries, which meant I had to take time off from school. As my grandmother aged, she became very ill, and my family and I spent many hours in the emergency room. I had several car problems and was involved in a couple of hit-and-run accidents. I was very close to my grandmother, who passed away, and later — around 2002 — both my mom and brother were diagnosed with cancer. My brother died in 2003. After my mom died in 2004, my husband, James, helped me go to day school full time. I will always remember what he said: “I want to make it so that the only thing you have to do is go to school.”

I did very well in day school. I main­tained a 4.0 GPA, I was the recipient of the 2004 Academic Excellence Award, and I was a member of the International Honor Society. I was on a mission. Just before I was eligible for qualifiers, my husband suffered a stroke, and later, he had to have a total hip replacement. James has recuperated, but he still has some health challenges.

I took my first CSR in 2008. I was excit­ed. Unfortunately, there were many more vicissitudes of life, but I believed if I wanted it badly enough, I must stick with it.

FAILING CAN HELP YOU IMPROVE

I cannot share my journey without giv­ing homage to God, who is always faith­ful. When my mother died, I asked God to help me draw close to Him.

I was devastated when I didn’t pass the 2008 California court reporting examina­tion, because I felt I needed to start paying off some of my debts. What was I going to do? A classmate invited me and other classmates over to her house. One of my classmates had just passed the CSR exami­nation. She introduced me to CART, and I fell in love with the idea of providing CART. From 2008 to 2012, I had a spir­itual awakening, so I leaned on my faith and drew closer to God. Learning about CART and my faith both spurred me on to continue taking the CSR.

My friends and instructors from Cer­ritos College and Downey Adult School and I were perplexed. I passed around 30 qualifiers at school, even as I continued to take and fail the state exam. I even received my 240 WPM pin. What’s up with that? As I prepared for each test, we were sure I would pass. Every time – from my first test to my sixth test and so on – I thought, surely this will be the test I pass.

Test takers are allowed to miss 50 words total. One year, I had 51 errors. I tried hypnosis DVDs. I prayed every morning, asking God to show me what I needed to do to pass my test. After test number 11, I was dumbfounded. Everyone told me I was probably nervous; however, I did not agree with that.

From 2009 to 2012, I worked as a CART provider, and I worked occasion­ally as a hearing reporter. Many people feel that CART hinders a student’s ability to pass the state examination. Perhaps that is true, but I know quite a few students who took the CSR and passed it the first time while working as a CART provider. I went to school more than I worked, and I was blessed to have a supportive husband. However, in my humble opinion, I believe stu­dents must do the fol­lowing if they have to work.

Either continue going to school or practice building speed on your own. Closing my eyes before practicing, I would visualize myself at the CSR. I would do a mock CSR, transcribe it, and correct it. I practiced the same steps as I would per­form in school. It’s imperative to tran­scribe. I cannot stress this enough. I always read my notes aloud.

While working, we become distracted and forget about those boring drills our instructors gave us to practice. Those bor­ing drills are what helped us get to the CSR in the first place. Therefore, do the bor­ing drills like you did when you were in school.

STAYING MOTIVATED

Each time I failed the CSR, I picked myself up and looked toward the future. Kathye Hall, one of my in­structors, used to en­courage us students to practice affirmations. I tried it a couple of times. After CSR number 11 or 12, I decided to revisit the affirma­tion thing again. Bingo! We love it when someone else gives us a compliment. I thought to myself: “Why wait for someone else to tell me what an awe­some court reporter I will be?”

I had to work very hard to cut off the chattering in my head while writ­ing on my machine. I learned to not create the chatter. That’s it. Don’t allow it to be­gin. As soon as those first words begin to form a sentence, I said “stop” or “no” and focused on the dictation and the words and looked directly at the speaker.

I also discovered that I would start cel­ebrating too soon, and then I would drop and ruin the entire test. “You’re getting this. Oh, my goodness, it looks like you might pass this one,” or “Oh, no, you hit the wrong key.” So instead, I learned to say to myself: “You can party after you pass the CSR.”

Margie Wakeman-Wells, CRI, gave me some valuable information when I reached out to her. She instructed me just before the November 2012 CSR exami­nation that, since I had the speed at this point, I should be making sure my fingers are going in the right places when I hit the keys. I believe this helped me to refocus my thinking while writing on my machine.

Everybody is different. I learned that it was better for me to keep to myself at the CSR. While repeating affirmations weeks before the examination, I would stand erect and confident in front of a mirror and say, “You will stay calm if you hit the incorrect key. You will not allow chatter to interfere with performing well, and you have the ability to pass the CSR exam.” I repeated my affirmations while standing in line waiting to go into the dictation room.

I had a wonderful support system: my husband, who said he knew it would eventually “click” for me, my family (my brother James went to Sacramento with me one time; he was amazed at what we went through), my friends, my instructors, and my classmates. My church family kept me motivated also. They had a prayer line going when I was scheduled to take the CSR. When I gave my testimony that I had finally passed the CSR exam on the thir­teenth time, the entire congregation stood on their feet with a thunderous applause.

During this entire time, I believed and never gave up faith that I would eventually pass the CSR.

Never, never give up on your dreams. God has a plan for you. You’ve got this!

 

Teresa Russ, CSR, is currently a CART provider at El Camino Community College and Long Beach City Col­lege in California. You can reach her at renee.russ@yahoo.com.

From the trainers: Ready, begin

Last week, while attending a state court reporting convention, I was speaking with a group of reporters about taking certification exams and what aspect of the exams they found most challenging. By far, the most common response was “Ready, begin.” One reporter said, “When I hear that phrase, I tense up and forget to breathe.” She became noticeably agitated just talking about it!

This is not uncommon. In fact, most students and working reporters have the same reaction when hearing the phrase, “Ready, begin.” We all know what follows that phrase is the exam itself, so those two words can generate negative feelings, disruptive thoughts, and test anxiety. So, what do we do about it? What can we do to improve our reaction to that dreaded phrase, build our confidence, and propel ourselves forward on a positive, test-passing path?

There’s plenty of literature available on test anxiety — just Google it and you’ll see what I mean — but most of it relates specifically to educational assessments, not skill-based assessments like speed tests and certification exams. That doesn’t mean that the advice isn’t useful; we just need to tweak it a bit to more appropriately apply to our needs.

Of course, there’s the usual list of to-dos on test day:

  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before.
  • Arrive at the test site early.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast.
  • Limit your intake of caffeine.
  • Exercise, if possible, prior to the test.

But, let’s face it, those suggestions don’t address the “Ready, begin” problem. We need to get beyond that phrase well before test day in order to pass certification tests without giving ourselves a stroke in the process. Here are some simple, yet effective, ways to achieve that:

  • Focus on “Ready, begin.” If the material you are preparing with does not include that phrase at the beginning of every exercise, repeat it to yourself. If “Ready, begin” is included in the practice material, repeat something positive to yourself every time you hear it.
  • Keep your positive statement short and sweet: “Yes” or “I’m ready!” or “I rock.”
  • Remember, the test begins approximately three seconds after “Ready, begin,” so you don’t have time for a full paragraph of affirmation!

Apply “Ready, begin” and positive affirmation to your daily routines. When you walk into the courthouse, a deposition or a CART job, or before beginning a captioning session, repeat “Ready, begin” and your positive response.

There are two things necessary to be a successful reporter (official, freelance, CART provider, or captioner) and passing tests (whether speed tests in school or certification exams), and those are writing skills and confidence. As Marcus Garvey once said, “With confidence, you have won before you have started.”

Ready, begin . . .

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!