As you prepare to take the written court reporter exam, think not only about the studying you need to accomplish but also how you need to prepare your mind and body for test day. Be sure to get plenty of rest the several days before the exam. You want to be especially sure to get a full night’s sleep the night before you take the written exam, so that being tired does not distract you from the exam or cause problems concentrating. Also pay attention to what you eat the day of the exam. Do not eat anything that you know could cause you to have an upset stomach, but do each something that will alleviate any hunger during the exam. You should have a breakfast or lunch that includes a decent amount of protein. This will help keep you from becoming tired or hungry during the exam.
Plan ahead of time about how you will pace yourself during the exam. You will have an hour and forty-five minutes to answer 105-110 multiple choice questions. This gives you slightly over one minute per question. However, you likely will not need an entire minute to answer some questions that are common knowledge to you, and you might need more than one minute to answer questions that require a deeper level of concentration. You need to find a balance between investing time in difficult questions and knowing when to move on if you are not sure of a correct answer.
Think about how you will pace yourself studying for the exam, too. Once you have registered for a test date, make a study schedule. Allot yourself enough time to study for each content area tested on the exam. You may want to begin by devoting study time proportional to the percentage of content on the exam in each section. Then, you may want to determine which content areas you are the strongest in and which you are the weakest in, and devote more time to the content areas that are the most challenging for you. However you create your study schedule, you can alter it as you go on and get a better sense of where you need to concentrate your efforts.
Because all of the questions on the written court reporter exam are multiple choice, there are several test taking strategies you can use in order to maximize your score on the exam. If you are unsure of the answer to a particular question, try to eliminate some of the answer choices. Perhaps one or two options you know are incorrect. Then, if you have to guess between only two answer choices, you have a fifty percent chance of guessing correctly and getting credit for answering the question. You are not penalized for answering questions incorrectly, so your best course of action is to answer every question on the exam and leave none blank. Even if you have to guess on some questions, you have a better chance of passing the exam if you put down an answer than if you leave a question blank.
Be sure you know what to expect on your test day. Familiarize yourself ahead of time with the rules and regulations of the testing site so that you are not surprised by anything. Do not bring any prohibited items to the test site, as you may not necessarily have a secure place to store them. Instead, leave study materials or unauthorized electronic devices at home or safely locked in your vehicle.
Make sure you look up directions to the testing facility the night before your exam rather than scrambling to be sure you know the correct location the day of the exam. Give yourself extra travel time when you go to your exam in order to ensure that you are not late in case of unforeseen circumstances such as a delay in traffic or public transportation.
Format and Scoring of the Written Court Reporter Exam
To become certified as a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR), Registered Merit Reporter (RMR), or Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR), you need to pass a written examination. In order to become certified as a RPR or RMR, you will also need to pass a skills test. In The written examination will cover content pertinent to real world application of your job skills. The content of the written exam is similar for RPRs, RMRs, and RDRs; however, the content for RMRs is slightly more advanced than that on the RPR written exam, and the content on the RDR exam is even more advanced than the content on the RMR exam. The level of knowledge expected to pass each written exam is commensurate with the level of work experience candidates at each level of certification have when they take the certification exam.
The majority of the content on the written court reporter exam covers transcript production and reporting. These two areas encompass the majority of content on all three levels (RPR, RMR, and RDR) of the written exam. The specific questions in this content area will become more challenging and require a greater knowledge of detail for each level of the exam. Also, the RDR exam has slightly less content on reporting and transcript production than the RPR and RMR exams. The RDR exam also covers marketing and educational content, which are not present on the RPR exam and very minimally present on the RMR exam.
The written exam will have 115 questions. However, not every question will count towards your exam score. Only 100 questions will actually contribute to your overall score. The remaining five to ten questions are actually pretest questions. Depending on how examinees do on answering these questions, the pretest questions may or may not be included in future written court reporter exams. While you are taking the exam, you will not know which questions are pretest questions and which questions count towards your score. All questions will be presented in the same format on the exam. That way, everyone taking the exam has the same incentive to try to answer the pretest questions correctly, which ensures an accurate measure of whether or not these questions are appropriate to include on a later version of the court reporter written exam.
The court reporter written exam lasts for one hour and forty-five minutes. Previous versions of the exam lasted for one hour and a half, but due to the addition of pretest questions, examinees are being given an extra fifteen minutes to complete the exam. These extra fifteen minutes actually increase the amount of time per question you have as you complete the exam. On exams without pretest questions, you have 90 minutes to complete 100 questions, but now you have 105 minutes to complete 115 questions.
In order to pass the written RPR, RMR, or RDR exam, you must have a score of at least 70. However, that does not necessarily mean that you must answer 70 questions out of 100 scored questions correct in order to pass the exam. Scores on the written court reporter exam are scaled, since the exact same version of the exam is not given to every examinee and scaling insures fairness if some versions of the exam contain a very slightly higher percentage of more challenging questions than other versions of the exam. Your raw score may be several points below 70 correct questions and you may still pass the exam, or your raw score may be several points above 70 correct questions and you may still fail the exam. Whether or not you answer pretest questions correctly has no bearing on your exam score, and can neither help nor hinder your ability to pass.
You will receive your unofficial test results as soon as you complete the written exam. Your official results will be mailed three or four weeks later.
The Registered Professional Reporter Court Reporter Exam
Court reporter exams are a way to gain certification as a court reporter. There are several levels of court reporter exams that you can take throughout different stages of your career. The first level is to become certified as a Registered Professional Reporter. Any stenographic reporter can register to take the court reporter exam to become a Registered Professional Reporter. You do not need to be a member of National Court Reporter’s Association to sign up for the Registered Professional Reporter exam.
The Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) designation is for entry level court reporters. The job description of entry level court reporters is composed primarily of reporting and producing transcripts. Various other duties include operating practices and professional issues. The content on the court reporter exam is composed of these same categories. The amount of content in each specific category of the exam is proportional to how much of your time on the job will be spent working in that particular area. For example, about 48% of the exam is based on reporting techniques, because Registered Professional Reporters spend about 48% of their time on the job reporting. In order to make certification a good indicator of a Registered Professional Reporters prospective job performance, questions on the exam relate as much as they possibly can to real world scenarios you may encounter on the job.
Reporting spoken words is the largest component of the reporting section of a Registered Professional Reporter’s job description. However, RPRs also report nonverbal actions as well as captions and appearances. They must verify records, read back some of the information they have recorded, and determine distribution of ancillary service and transcripts.
The transcript production portion of a Registered Professional Reporter’s job description includes proofreading transcripts for errors, properly using computer technology to produce transcripts, performing research to ensure that information included in transcripts is reported accurately, and creating information sheets that describe all necessary information needed to produce a transcript accurately. Operating practices include keeping records and handling notes and data properly. You must follow specific procedures for storing all notes and data that pertain to confidential court matters. Notes and data that can be filed need to be stored and organized in a way that they can easily be retrieved. This organizational system also needs to be backed up on a computer. However, some notes and data must be destroyed. You must follow specifications for their proper destruction and document the destruction as necessary.
Professional issues that must be dealt with by Registered Professional Reporters include understanding confidentiality and how confidentiality requirements can differ between jury proceedings and private discussions. As a Registered Professional Reporter, you should be familiar with the National Court Reporters Association code of ethics and how you should implement the code of ethics in your day to day activities as a court reporter. You should understand how your job relates to the various people you interact with on a daily basis, including judges, lawyers, and the general public.
In order to obtain certification as a Registered Professional Reporter, you must pass both a written test about your knowledge of working as a court reporter and a skills test to assess your typing ability as well as your ability to record information accurately. Most Registered Professional Reporters take the skills test and the written test on different days, because they are usually offered at different test centers.
Gaining certification as a Registered Professional Reporter is a great step to advance your career as a professional stenographer. Certification ensures your potential employers that you are capable of entry level job responsibilities. The skills exam proves that you have the capacity to record information quickly and accurately, and the written exam shows that your general knowledge of court room proceedings and your role in those proceedings is sufficient to perform your job well. To maintain certification, you need to earn continuing education credits.
The Registered Merit Reporter Court Reporter Exam
There are several court reporter certification exams designed for court reporters at different stages of their career path. The first level is the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) exam, the second level is the Registered Merit Reporter (RMR) exam, and the third level is the Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR) exam. In order to be eligible to take the Registered Merit Reporter exam, you must already be certified as a Registered Professional Reporter. You also must be a member of the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), which is the professional association of court reporters that administers these credentialing exams. You need to be a member of NCRA for at least three years with commensurate work experience.
As a Registered Merit Reporter, you will have more job opportunities than a Registered Professional Reporter. As a RMR and member of NCRA, you are also eligible to participate in NCRA’s National Speed Contest. You will also earn half of a CEU for each part of the Registered Merit Reporter exam that you take. That means that once you have earned your Registered Merit Reporter certification, you will have also earned a total of two extra CEUs.
You need to pass both a written exam about your duties as a court reporter as well as three skills exams in order to become a Registered Merit Reporter. You do not need to take all of the exams at once, and there is no time limit in which you must complete the three skills exams and the written exam, so you can take as much time as you need in order to ensure your success on these exams.
The job description and content of the written Registered Merit Reporter are very similar to the content of the job description and content of the Registered Professional Reporter. However, there are some variations, and the depth of your knowledge and expertise is expected to be greater in order to pass the Registered Merit Reporter exam.
The content areas tested on the written Registered Merit Reporter exam are reporting, transcript production, administration, and professional issues. Reporting is the largest content area, composing roughly 62% of the exam. You should expect to encounter questions covering readback, spoken words, nonverbal actions, and record verification. Most of the reporting questions on the exam will be focused on reporting spoken words. You should have a good knowledge of punctuation and grammar, how to properly identify speakers in your records, and how to record speech when multiple people are speaking at once. You also may need to know some technical terminology as it relates to the issues you are reporting. When tested on reporting nonverbal actions, you should know when they need to be included in your records as well as how to weave them into the spoken words you are reporting. You should also have general knowledge of legal proceedings and what information about these proceedings needs to be included in your reports.
Questions on the Registered Merit Reporter written exam relating to transcript production will include knowledge of proper terminology, ancillary services, and formatting. You will need to know how to proofread the transcripts you create accurately, as well as how to research anything in your report that needs greater clarification. You should also know how to distribute your transcripts once they are complete.
Administration questions that you may need to answer on the Registered Merit Reporter written exam will cover various office procedures that relate to your job duties. These may be related to scheduling and maintaining equipment as well as managerial duties or business guidelines. You will need to know how to interact with your colleagues and any support staff.
Professional issues that you will be tested on include knowledge of legal proceedings and your role within them, confidentiality requirements with respect to various situations you will encounter on the job, pro bono activities, and proper professional conduct and ethics.
The Registered Diplomate Reporter Court Reporter Exam
Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR) certification is the highest level of certification available for court reporters through the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). In order to be eligible to apply for Registered Diplomate Reporter certification, you must already be certified as a Registered Merit Reporter and be a member of NCRA for at least six years. Registered Diplomate Reporters are likely to have the best job options as court reporters and represent the top of their field. They are also likely to have the best salaries among court reporters.
In order to become certified as a Registered Diplomate Reporter, you must pass a written examination. The written examination is similar to the written examinations you must pass in order to become a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) or a Registered Merit Reporter (RMR). However, while you had to take several skills tests in order to become a RPR or RMR, you do not need to take any skills tests in order to become certified as a Registered Diplomate Reporter.
The content of the job description of a Registered Diplomate Reporter and the RDR exam is similar to the content of the RPR and RMR exams, but has a smaller focus on reporting and a greater focus on management, marketing, and education. Reporting makes up about 53% of the Registered Diplomate Reporter exam. A Registered Diplmoate Reporter is expected to have a greater knowledge of ancillaries than a RPR or RMR. Some of the ancillary services that may appear on the exam include captioning, data projection, litigation support, telecommunications, and compressed transcripts.
Just like the other court reporter exams, the Registered Diplomate Reporter exam includes questions on transcript production. You should know how to properly fact check transcripts in order to make sure all of the information contained is accurate. This includes using library reference systems, understanding legal citation systems, and utilizing professional organizations as references. The transcript production questions on the RDR exam may also include questions about proper grammar and punctuation usage, technical terminology, and how to utilize computer programs and other up to date technology when creating transcripts.
Questions related to management appear on the Registered Diplomate Recorder exam, although there is no management section on the RPR or RMR exam. Management questions will include concepts such as assessing other employees, scheduling, maintaining equipment and ordering new equipment when necessary, working with support personnel such as proofreaders and scopists to ensure quality in transcripts, budgeting, and prioritizing. Management questions on the exam may also touch on the need to work closely with other personnel in order to maximize the efficiency of the reporting process. This includes knowing how to properly interact with clients, attorneys, paralegals, and others in order to ensure that the necessary requirements are met for getting the job done.
A Registered Diplmoate Reporter is expected to lead by example for others in the reporting profession. The education content of the RDR exam will test you on your knowledge of motivational techniques and training programs. You will also need to know codes of ethics and confidentiality requirements and how they may shift from situation to situation. You will be expected to stay abreast of the latest technology and other developments in the court reporting field, and may see some questions on the exam that reflect recent industry trends.
Marketing questions on the exam center around your ability to use your knowledge and expertise in court reporting to promote the field. You should know how to demonstrate to others the services court reporters can offer and why these are useful. Many Registered Diplomate Reporters publish articles about the industry that are written for a diverse audience that may not be completely familiar with the field of court reporting. You should also be able to answer exam questions relating to your professional responsibilities and how they relate to the legal process as a whole.
The RPR and RMR Skills Test Court Reporter Exam
In order to become certified as a Registered Professional Reporter or Registered Merit Reporter through the National Court Reporters Association, you must pass several skills tests as well as written exams. The skills tests require that you accurately record dictation spoken at a designated speed. In order to pass the skills tests, your report must be done with 95% accuracy.
There are three skills sections to the exams that you must pass for RPR or RMR certification. The sections are jury charge, testimony, and literary. Although these sections are the same for both the RPR and RMR skills exams, the difficulty of the exam is heighted for RMR certification. To be certified as a Registered Professional Reporter, you must pass the jury charge section at 200 words per minute, the testimony section as 225 words per minute, and the literary section at 180 words per minute. To be certified as a Registered Merit Reporter, you must pass the jury charge section at 240 words per minute, the testimony section at 260 words per minute, and the literary section at 200 words per minute.
However, the allowable number of errors for the Registered Merit Reporter exam is slightly greater than the allowable number of errors for the Registered Professional Reporter exam. To become a Registered Professional Reporter, you can have a minimum of 50 errors on the jury charge section of the skills test, a minimum of 57 errors on the testimony section of the skills test, and a minimum of 45 errors on the literary section of the skills test. To become a Registered Merit Reporter, you can have a minimum of 60 errors on the jury charge section of the skills test, a minimum of 65 errors on the testimony section of the skills test, and a minimum of 50 errors on the literary section of the skills test.
Several egregious errors will cause you to automatically fail the skills test, so be sure you are aware of these before you take the exam. If you handwrite your report, you will automatically fail. If you type and single-space your report, you will automatically fail. If you type your report and use only lower case or only capital letters, you also will fail. These egregious errors are easily avoidable as long as you are aware of their consequences before you take the skills test.
Each omitted word counts as one error on the skills test. So, if you accidentally omit a phrase that contains three words, you will receive three errors for the omitted phrase. Similarly, each incorrect word counts as one error. If you inadvertently replace each word in a three-word phrase with a synonym, you will receive three errors for the incorrect phrase.
You will receive one error point for each incorrect name. For example, if you list one person’s name but another person was actually mentioned, you will receive an error point. However, you will not be docked for an error if you accidentally misplace a name with the spelling of a name that sounds similar; for example, if the correct name is Lisa and your report lists Liza, this mistake will not be counted as an error.
Each verb that is reported in a verb tense other than the tense in which it was spoken will count as one error. Every word you accidentally insert in the report that was not actually spoken will also count as one error. Transposing words count as errors, too. When it comes to transposing, each word that is in the incorrect place counts as one error. So, if you transpose a three-word phrase, you will have three errors for this mistake. Misusing plural or singular forms, misspelling a word, or outright reporting the wrong word will also be counted as one error for each incorrect word. Omitting punctuation where it should obviously be placed is also counted as an error.
Administration and Procedures for the Skills Tests of the Court Reporter Exam
In order to become certified as a Registered Professional Reporter or a Registered Merit Reporter, you must pass three sections of a skills test as well as a written certification exam. The three sections on the skills test are jury charge, testimony, and literary. Usually, certification candidates do not take their skills test and written exam on the same day.
Procedures to ensure confidentiality of the material on the skills test are taken very seriously. It may seem obvious that you are not allowed to copy or reproduce any section of the skills test, but memorizing and then telling another person about the skills test is treated the same as physically copying part of the test. You may have the option of using either your own equipment or the test center’s equipment when you take the skills test. However, either way you need to be sure to turn off your computer’s microphone in order to prove that no dictation you heard during the exam was recorded. Examinees are not permitted to discuss the exam with one another, even after the exam is completed. If you do not adhere to this regulation, you may end up automatically failing the exam.
Administrators of the exam will have the right to inspect your computer both before and after the exam. They will check to ensure that the microphone is off and that no documents used during the exam are stored on your computer. The penalties for rejecting these confidentiality procedures are steep. You may be given an automatic failure on the test. Even worse, depending on the nature of the incident you may also be banned from taking the test again for up to three years or even permanently. If you are a member of the National Court Reporters Association, you may have to forfeit your membership in the event of a known confidentiality breech.
When you arrive at the test site, you need to bring a current piece of identification that contains your photograph. You also need to bring your exam confirmation. You will be asked to sign in when you arrive. Your name should appear on the sign in roster if you have registered for the exam, and it must appear on the roster in order to be seated for the exam. Be sure to arrive on time. If you are not familiar with the location of the testing site, bring directions or a GPS with you so that you do not have trouble finding the testing site. Allow yourself plenty of time for transportation in case you encounter traffic or other delays.
You will be permitted to use a dictionary during the exam; however, access to the internet is prohibited, so you cannot use an online dictionary. You can use a dictionary installed on your computer (such as a spell check feature) or a hard copy of a dictionary. If you use a hard copy, the Merriam Webster dictionary is recommended. You will not be allowed to use headphones during the exam. The exam will last for one hour and fifteen minutes.
When the exam is finished, you are required to turn in all the test materials that you used. These include writer discs or writer cassettes, any paper notes, and your final transcript.
You will be allowed to print a rough draft of your transcript if you choose to do so. Your exam identification number will have to be listed on each page of your rough draft, and each page of your rough draft must be destroyed in front of the room monitor before you leave the exam room after you have finished. NCRA recommends that examinees only print one rough draft and one final draft during the skills test. You need to bring your own paper to the exam site. You should bring blank, white, 20 lb paper for the exam. NCRA recommends bringing at least 20 sheets.