Plan ahead for learning opportunities through NCRA


Photo by Dafne Cholet

Mark your calendars and plan your learning path with NCRA through 2018. NCRA offers opportunities to earn CEUs in a variety of ways, from certification to webinars to live events. NCRA is your one-stop shop for your educational needs, whether you are working toward your next certification, your cycle ending date, or another goal.

Keep in mind that NCRA members can earn CEUs by passing the skills or written portion of certain tests, such as the RMR, RDR, CRR, or CLVS Exams.

Here is a short selection of dates and events (dates are subject to change):

Court Reporting & Captioning Week (Feb. 10-17), Memorial Day (May 30), and Veterans Day (Nov. 11) are also all good opportunities to schedule Veterans History Project Days to earn PDCs, although members and students are invited to participate throughout the year. And don’t forget that online skills testing is available year round.

In addition, NCRA is planning webinars throughout the year, which will be announced in the JCR Weekly and on the NCRA Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages as they are available.

Watch for more information in the JCR, in the JCR Weekly, and on for registration, deadlines, and other ideas to earn continuing education.

NCRA celebrates the Best. Friday. Ever.

NCRA members can kick off their holiday shopping season on Nov. 24 by taking advantage of Black Friday discounts and giveaways being offered with the purchase of membership renewals, store items, educational sessions, and more.

NCRA members who renew their membership or join on Nov. 24 will be entered into a drawing to win a free registration to the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo. Registered members who renew on Black Friday will automatically be entered into a drawing to win a free registration for the Speed or Realtime Contests held at the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo. Members who renew their membership on Nov. 24 will also be eligible to win one of two Kindle Fires. That means the members who qualify may have three opportunities to win!

Other Best Friday Ever specials include a 20 percent discount on all NCRA Store items purchased using the promotional code FRIDAY at checkout. In addition, members who register for the 2018 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference and book their stay at The Don CeSar will be entered into a drawing for a free spouse registration for the event.

Members who purchase an NCRA e-seminar on Nov. 24 will be entered into a drawing to win a free e-seminar while members who purchase a Skills Test on Black Friday will be entered into a drawing to win one of two free Skills Test registrations.

Members are urged to mark their calendars to be sure they don’t miss the discounts and giveaways being offered only on Nov. 24.

Testing where and when you want cited as a huge benefit of online testing

testing-tips-lightbulbThe many benefits of NCRA’s online testing program include a user-friendly and secure system, more testing opportunities annually, faster results, and greater affordability. However, users of the system continue to report that the freedom and convenience of being able to test in a location of their choosing, including at home or in the office, continues to rank as one of the biggest factors for success.

The program, which is a partnership between NCRA, Realtime Coach, and ProctorU, was launched in August 2015 and offers online skills testing platforms for candidates of the RPR, RMR, CRR, and CRC certifications. Since then, more than 2,300 tests have been taken online.

“This was my first online testing experience, and I was able to pass the last leg of the RPR that I needed to become certified, so I’d say it was a pretty great experience. I like the online testing much better than having to go to a brick-and-mortar testing site. I did not like having to wake up very early in the morning to make it to the testing site and having to bring all of my equipment. Less anxiety testing from home in that regard,” said Christina E. Sarisky, RPR, a freelance reporter from Rutherford, N.J.

Brittany Blesener, RPR, an official court reporter from Chaska, Minn., agrees that the best benefit to online testing is “taking it at your own time, one leg at a time, instead of having a set date.”

First-time online test-taker Megan Orris, RPR, an official court reporter from Middleburg, Penn., said she personally likes the online testing for the skills portion of certification because it makes things go quickly and, rather than the six to eight weeks it takes to receive official results from a brick-and-mortar site, online official results are emailed within three to seven days.

“I think people can get nervous over having to wait a period of time to know whether they passed or failed a test,” she noted.

For candidates preparing to take any of the NCRA online skills tests, veteran test-takers and Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE, national marketing manager for Realtime Coach, agree that practicing is also an important factor for ensuring success.

NCRA recently made available on its YouTube channel a series of nine online testing instructional videos created by Realtime Coach that cover the entire process from a basic orientation to scheduling the actual test. The short videos were designed to provide candidates with an easy-to-use resource for prepping.

“Online testing instructional videos were created, so candidates can quickly and easily refresh their recollection of a step or two of the testing process, or replay a step multiple times if needed,” said Everhart. ”With testing instructions now available in print and video formats, candidates can select the format that best suits their needs.”

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.

Under the online system, NCRA allows candidates to take up to three skills test attempts in each quarter. For information visit NCRA’s online skills testing page.

Top 15 tips to master online testing

testing-tips-lightbulbBy Marybeth Everhart

  1. Review the Detailed Instructions found on and
  2. Practice the testing process. We all tend to practice just the steno portion of an exam. It won’t matter how good a writer you are if you cannot complete the test online!
  3. Send an email to yourself and attach a steno note file. You’ll need to attach a steno note file when testing, and the process of navigating to those files on your computer is the same. Practice it until you can do it in your sleep!
  4. Send an email to yourself and attach a transcript file from your CAT software. The process is the same as attaching a transcript during testing.
  5. Don’t make this harder than it is. You don’t need to make a PDF or RTF or any other non-CAT format, but you do need to know where to find your files and what to look for.
  6. Know how to copy and paste your transcript from your CAT software. Read the section of the Detailed Instructions about your software so you’re comfortable with it, and practice, practice, practice.
  7. Use the free practice tests on to practice the testing procedure! The practicing process is identical to the testing procedure. The more comfortable you are, the less nervous you’ll be for the actual test.
  8. Use the same equipment to test that you practice on. Test day is not the time to introduce something new.
  9. Take at least one proctored practice. Two free proctored practices are included with your test registration, so use them.
  10. Don’t install anything new or download any updates between your proctored practice and your actual test.
  11. Practice, take a proctored test, and take your test in the same location. Don’t take your proctored practice at the office and test at home!
  12. Test at approximately the same day and time as your proctored practice. Your Internet speed may fluctuate throughout the day, so be sure it’s sufficient at the time you plan to test.
  13. Practice with your headphones on! That’s how you’ll be taking the test.
  14. Analyze your practice performance. Remember, practice makes permanent, not necessarily perfect! Identify your common weaknesses and resolve them! If using myRealtimeCoach, pay attention to the Focused Feedback and remember to stop, look, and change what needs to be fixed.
  15. Ready, begin: Two words, four syllables, ten letters. Don’t let these words be your undoing on test day. Every practice session should begin with that phrase, followed by a few short, sweet, and simple words of encouragement.

Watch a series of short videos with step-by-step instructions for completing an online skills test on NCRA’s YouTube channel.

Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE, is the national marketing manager at RealtimeCoach, a realtime trainer, and former court reporter. She can be reached at


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.”

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

Online testing: It’s all in the details

When taking an online skills test, knowing the process and equipment needed is the first step to success.

By Marybeth Everhart

Online testing is well underway, and hundreds and hundreds of tests have been completed, uploaded, and instantly graded. The delivery time for final results has been whittled down from six weeks plus to three to seven days. So, what’s holding you back from taking a test online? Perhaps you’re concerned about the process and what you need to know to successfully complete a skills test. First and foremost for any exam is to know the rules — what are you allowed to do, and what is taboo? Don’t go by what you read on Facebook, but do the research yourself. This is your test, your opportunity to attain a new credential, so why rely on rumor and speculation?

Whether taking a realtime or transcription test, there are several things you need to know:

  • What additional equipment is needed, if any?
  • Where are your CAT files housed on your computer?
  • What are the file extensions for both a steno note file and a transcript (text) file in your CAT software?
  • How do you mark and copy text in your CAT software?
  • Are you allowed to print your test for proofreading (transcription tests)?

If you don’t currently know the answers to all, or any, of these questions, there’s plenty of help available.

First, some of those questions will be answered in this article. Second, there’s the Online Testing FAQ document available at; look for the link titled “Taking an Online Skills Test with Realtime Coach and ProctorU.” Third, there’s a Detailed Instructions document available on, under the Test Tab, and in the NCRA Certification Test Center.

You’ll need the same equipment to test online as you did in a brick-and-mortar setting, plus a few other items. First, you’ll need your steno machine (writer), your CAT software, and your computer, just as you did to test on-site. In addition, you’ll need headphones to listen to the audio portion of the test. Why headphones? Two reasons: 1) to block out all extraneous noise so you’re better able to hear and concentrate on the audio, and 2) so that there is no ambient audio to record. This is one of many security measures to maintain the integrity of the exam.

Next, you’ll need an external Web cam. Why external, you ask? Well, your proctor is going to ask you to perform a 360-degree pan of the room to confirm that you are the only person there, and that your speed demon best friend isn’t, in fact, taking the test for you. Since we all have many things plugged into our computers, such as the writer, a printer, one or more monitors, and so on and so forth, it will be nearly impossible to use the built-in camera. All those wires and cables attached will prevent you from spinning the computer around 360 degrees.

That said, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on an external Web cam! I picked mine up for $5.99, and it works like a charm. The most important feature of the camera is a stand because you’ll need to rest it on the desk aimed at you and your writer once you complete the pan of the room. If there’s no built-in stand, you’ll constantly be fiddling with the camera to get it and keep it in the correct position.

Finally, you may need a shredder as well. If you are taking a realtime test, you do not have the opportunity to either edit or proofread your test prior to submission, so no shredder is needed. For a transcription test, however, you may wish to proofread from a printed transcript rather than your computer screen. In that case, you will need a shredder to destroy the printed version in front of the proctor before logging off.

Now that you know what additional equipment you need, let’s focus on practicing. Once you register for a test at, you’ll have 30 days in which to actually take the exam. That means 30 days to practice the testing process, and you can walk through that process as many times as you need to feel comfortable. So, let’s walk through it now. Register for a test at Within three business days, you’ll receive an email from Realtime Coach containing a link to the site, your login credentials, and some instructions. What if you don’t receive that email within three business days? What should you do? First, check your spam folder to be certain it wasn’t caught in a filter. Second, be sure you’re checking the email address provided to NCRA when you registered. If, after checking both areas, you still do not find the email, contact NCRA.

After receiving the email, click on the link contained in the email to go to, and use the credentials provided to log in. From there, click on the Test link at the top, and select “NCRA Certification Test Center.”

Once you select the NCRA Certification Test Center, you’ll notice the screen below changes. The NCRA logo will appear and there will be three options: Purchase, Prepare, and Test.

onlinetesting1There’s no need to repurchase if you already registered and paid through, so skip straight to the Practice section. Again, you’ll see three options: Purchase NCRA Cert Prep, Try a Practice Test (no proctor), and Schedule/Take a Proctored Practice.

onlinetesting2The Cert Prep package is included in the Realtime Coach Ultimate membership, which you can purchase by simply clicking the link and completing the purchase process. If you click on “Try a Practice Test (no proctor),” you’ll see that there are free practice tests, one for each type of certification offered:

onlinetesting3These tests can, and should, be practiced again and again until you feel comfortable with the testing process. The steps are identical to those of the actual test, so this is your opportunity to get comfortable and build your confidence. You don’t want any guesswork on test day! There is also a short video available on how to take a test in RealtimeCoach, and that can be found by clicking on the down arrow next to your name, once logged in. Select Setup & Help, and Tips & Tutorials. There you’ll see a link for Testing in RTC3:

onlinetesting4There are several steps involved in completing both the practice tests and the actual exams. Pay close attention to the instructions that appear below the video screen, as these change with each step in the process.

onlinetesting5When ready, follow the prompts and begin your test:

  1. Listen to the warm-up. For the actual test, you will have the option to click on the Skip Warm-up button if you prefer not to write the warm-up on test day.
  2. Write the test
  3. Attach your steno note file. Note that you do not need to save the notes as a PDF or any other format. The native CAT format is fine. If you accidentally attached the wrong note file, click on the Re-Attach link, and this time choose the correct file.
  4. If you are practicing/taking a transcription test, your timer will then begin, so go to your CAT software and begin editing. Once you’ve completed the editing of your transcript, attach it. If taking a realtime test, you obviously do not have any editing time, so attach your transcript immediately. Again, simply upload the transcript in the native CAT format, for example, ECL.
  5. Finally, copy the text from your CAT software and paste it into the My Transcript window in MyRealtimeCoach to receive your estimated score.

You can also practice the attaching steps by simply emailing steno note files and transcript files to yourself.

Once you’ve practiced the process until you’re mastered it, let’s add another layer and take a proctored practice. This is just as you would imagine it is from the name: an opportunity to practice again, but this time with a proctor watching. You actually get to walk through the entire proctored process, so do it! This is also a great opportunity to test your equipment and fix anything that needs fixing prior to test day. When ready, click on the Schedule/Take a Proctored Practice, which will take you directly to the scheduling section of the ProctorU website.

Before you schedule your proctored practice, however, click on the Test Your Equipment button at the top, and you’ll see all aspects of your setup are tested for a proper connection to your proctor:

onlinetesting6There’s no need to leave any aspect of online testing to chance. After completing the system check, click on the Schedule New Session button, and make the appropriate selections. Be sure to choose Practice Test from the drop-down menu:

onlinetesting7Click on the Find Session button, and select a date and time frame in which you’d like to take your proctored practice. Note that you must schedule your practice and your test at least 72 hours out, so plan accordingly.

onlinetesting8It’s worth noting that you also have yet another opportunity to access and review the NCRA online testing FAQs from here as well.

As you near the scheduled time of your practice test, log onto the MyRealtimeCoach site and select the Test link and the NCRA Certification Test Center. Once again, click on the Schedule/Take a Proctored Practice and you will, again, go to the ProctorU site. Once you connect with the proctor, he or she will complete the verification and authentication process, secure the test area, and allow you to complete the practice test. If all goes well in your proctored practice, go ahead and schedule your actual test. If there are any hiccups in your practice test, resolve those and schedule a second proctored practice. Do not schedule your official test until you have successfully completed a proctored practice.

To review, practice within RealtimeCoach as many times as you’d like to master the process. If you’d like graded feedback on your skills, purchase a MyRealtimeCoach membership. Then schedule a proctored practice, and once you’ve successfully completed that, schedule your test. Good luck on your next certification exam! Ready, begin…

Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE, is the national marketing manager at RealtimeCoach, a realtime trainer, and former court reporter. She can be reached at

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.

Trial Presentation certificate program goes online

NCRA’s online Trial Presentation Certificate Program offers the same information that was developed by experts in the field. The program includes a two-step process consisting of reviewing lectures by Tim Piganelli, Diarmuid Truax, Joe Cerda, CLVS, and Steve Crandall, CLVS, followed by a practical assessment of the candidate’s ability to perform the duties of a Trial Presentation Professional. The nine lecture sessions are eight hours total in length and all together have been approved for 0.8 CEU. Candidates who wish to earn the certificate must then pass an exam with 70 percent or better.

As courtrooms adopt new technologies, IT professionals, courtroom personnel, and trial presenters can find a wide range of equipment available in each new situation. Being organized and knowing how to work both old and new systems are the two best strategies.

The Trial Presentation Certificate Program will enable the trial presenter to stay at the top of his or her game by recognizing what to present and how to present it.  Experience in trial presentation and familiarity with trial presentation software is a plus for this program but certainly not a requirement.

To learn more about the Trial Presentation Professional Program, click here.

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 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

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 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

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