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TRAIN tip: Sign up and test

By Michelle Gudex

My best advice to improve your realtime is to sign up for certification tests and practice as hard as you can to prepare for them. I have a very fast-speaking judge, and up until a few years ago I thought realtime would be impossible at that pace. Then I started to practice for the CRR again. I spent three months preparing. I surprised myself by how much I improved during that time. I would sit down during the lunch hour telling myself to practice for ten minutes, and it would always be 45 minutes by the time I was done. It was just a matter of getting started.

Also, Realtime Coach offers a free trial period every fall and spring normally before testing time, and I was able to qualify for a free month a couple of times, which was great to have all of that new material for my ears to hear and to be able to only focus on the mistakes I was making since it corrects the transcript for you.

Every day, I scan through all of my untranslates to make new entries in my dictionary or see how I need to improve. I have also been constantly trying to shorten my writing. When I create a new brief, I always create briefs for all of the different endings that could be associated with that word so that they are all similar. In addition, I have been using the asterisk to add the -ed ending to many words so that I don’t have to come back for it in a second stroke.

I have offered realtime to my judge twice now, and he has turned me down. However, after seeing it at the judicial conference, he said he might be interested. I am still terrified to provide it given how fast he talks and how he likes everything to be perfect, but I keep making improvements every day to boost my confidence. I know providing realtime is the next necessary step in my career. One thing I did was enter all of the police officers, social workers, probation agents, local attorneys, counselors, common doctors, and anything else I have jotted down over the years into my dictionary. I know that dictionary building will be a constant process.

In the past year and a half, I have obtained my CRR, CBC, and CCP. You can too if you work hard and put the time in! Failure isn’t not passing a test; it is not trying at all! You cannot succeed if you don’t try!

A thread on NCRA’s Realtime TRAIN Facebook page listed all kinds of court reporting groups on Facebook. Becoming part of these groups can really help you with briefs, technology, software, and procedures. Here’s a sample:

  • Advantage Software
  • Anthony D. Frisolone, Case CATalyst Trainer
  • A BRIEF a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
  • The Brief Exchange
  • Captioners – NCRA Facebook group
  • CART Providers – NCRA Facebook group
  • Case CATalyst Reporters and Users
  • Case CATalyst Training by Jill Suttenberg
  • Court Reporter & Scopist Macintosh User Group
  • Court Reporter Technology
  • Court Reporters of Facebook
  • Court Reporting Q & A
  • Deposition Reporters Association
  • Diamante Writer Users Group
  • Encouraging Court Reporting Students
  • Freelance Court Reporters – NCRA Facebook group
  • Guardians of the Record
  • Jim Barker’s Court Reporters Forum
  • Mac and Case CATalyst
  • NCRA’s Realtime TRAIN – NCRA Facebook group
  • Official Reporters – NCRA Facebook group
  • One Word, Two Words, Apostrophe, Hyphen – OH MY!
  • Punctuation for Court Reporters
  • Realtime – Learn and Share
  • Steno Briefs for Court Reporters
  • StenoCAT Users Network
  • Stenovations Digitalcat Lightspeed Users Group
  • Tidbits for Court Reporters
  • Tutor4Computers
  • USCRA, for federal reporters

Michelle M. Gudex, RMR, CRR, CBC, CCP, has been an official in Sheboygan County, Wis., for 10 years. She can be reached at