Here: Certify This! … Court Reporting Students, Court Reporters and CART Captioners


Here: Certify This! … Court Reporting Students, Court Reporters and CART Captioners
By Monette Benoit

~~ Originally published in my column “Beyond The Comfort Zone” within NCRA’s Journal of Court Reporting, JCR
By Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved

If you registered for a NCRA, National Court Reporters Association, or a state court reporting examination take a deep breath and think big.

Write your name with your initials of the certification on a piece of paper. Make two copies. Post one on your bathroom mirror; this will be the first and last thing you see each day.

Put the piece of paper with your certification on your fridge. I want you to prepare a blueprint in success to prioritize this event. Prepare as an athlete.

Proper nutrition enables individuals to persevere. And competing is what you’re doing. (You’re competing with skills that enabled you to join the professionals in our occupation.)

People who do not eat properly, work long hours, and worry about money become overwhelmed.

When I speak to groups, tutor, coach students and court reporters, I share the mind/body approach. Many do not understand why they need to eat breakfast. Eat breakfast. Physical exercise is important; nutritional preparation is essential.

Proteins and carbohydrates sustain elevated blood sugar levels during work, tests and stressful situations. Bananas, peanuts and dried fruit are healthy, enabling a person to focus and improve concentration.

Pack a small bag with non-salted pretzels, carbohydrates; include non-salted peanuts for protein. Snacking on this combo improves your attention to detail and your stamina. I have snacks in my desk, briefcase, car, CART realtime case and usually in my hand as I race through life.

Two nights before your test, eat a protein dinner to build energy. I recommend fish with vegetables.

The evening prior to the examination, dine on complex carbohydrates. Carbs remain in the blood longer, building stamina.

Athletes eat whole wheat spaghetti the night before competition. They understand the importance of nutrition. (I eat yams.)

Vitamins are important. Include amino acids, Vitamin C, E, and B complexes. Sublingual B-12 can be placed under your tongue before any test.

Hatha Yoga improves concentration, building strong back and arm muscles; great for people hunched most of their day. Learn exercises which permit you to quickly send fresh blood into your spine and brain. And this ‘fresh blood’ calms nervous energy.

Court reporters understand that there are two parts to many national and state certification tests – a written and a skills portion.

Court Reporter Reference Books has an updated/revised Purple Books textbook, workbook, companion study guide, and a realtime vocabulary workbook, Complete Set, 4 books, and Trio Set, 3 books, to assist you to prepare for NCRA, national, and the state written portion of your court reporting certification examinations.

Purple Books sets teach you ‘how’ to take a test.  Also, we explain ‘why’ a word, answer is correct, incorrect.

Currently, there is only one textbook on the market to assist individuals to pass national NCRA RPR, RDR; State CSRs, and NY’s Civil Service written tests. The link for Purple test-prep books is

Individuals using Purple Books material have a 98% successful pass rate with Purple Books Sets (Complete Set and Trio Set) on national and certification written exams passing the WKT, written certification test, the first time.

If you are studying alone for the test or working to improve your skills, would be honored to assist you with the written portion of your state and national certification.

The second portion of the test concerns speed and accuracy.

Reporters and students building speed want material to be faster, faster, faster. But accuracy is built on the ability to write with control.

The push for higher speeds, in my opinion, should be in short spurts, not long practice periods. Start with material that’s comfortable. Build your speed while reading back and writing slower speeds for control. Your goal is to write comfortably 10-wpm, words per minute, to 20-wpm above the test speeds.

All reporters experience reading bad notes. When you’re struggling, I highly recommend reading those notes. Fingers have patterns. Many students and reporters have a finger that drags or slips. Study finger patterns. Adjust your steno machine on that specific key for a lighter or heavier touch.

Analyze your bad notes, enjoy your good notes, but focus on finger patterns.

Many students and reporters do not want to type tests.

You learn more from bad notes than good notes. With a positive attitude and focus, you will learn something you did not know about your fingers, your dictionary and your work. You’ve taken the time to prepare; you shouldn’t walk from any test.

NCRA national speed contenders do not write perfect notes. They compile and complete exceptional tests; a skill perfected over years.

Listen to tapes 20-wpm higher than scheduled speeds while you drive to work or school. (One of my students listened to a tape 40-wpm higher than her speed; she “got” lost on the way to school — Honest.) Increase your ability to listen, “carrying information.” When you carry for spurts, you’ll gain confidence.

I believe listening is more essential than writing, especially for tests where we have to “recall” verbatim material.

When practicing, remember numbers are important. Witnesses state his/her address, zip code, phone numbers (cell, home, office), social security numbers. Numbers often are included in tests.

Should you use briefs or should you learn to write every word, sound by sound? Use what works best for you. NCRA has a great book, “61+Ways to Write Faster, Speedbuilding Tips.”

After someone writes, I study their notes. They have words that they wrote during dictation that they did not type accurately. Enhance your transcription skills; your test scores will improve.

Here are my suggestions:

First, type from steno notes. Leave blanks on the computer screen or typing paper for “problem” areas. Valuable time is lost staring at a word or a flap. Often the word is repeated or reworded within the dictation.

Second, mark each flap or computer screen with an ‘x’ or pen as you transcribe to ensure you didn’t fold skip words or fold two flaps. (It’s happened in national speed championships.)

Third, check your transcribed notes for accuracy and punctuation.

Fourth, check steno notes to the transcribed material to find missed words. Too many people incur errors when they “had it” in their notes.

Fifth, go back and proof each page, each sentence, in a right to left pattern. This is where you proof each word for spelling.

After you have completed steps one through five, then go back and stare at the problem spots and look for each ‘x’ on the computer screen to see each word was transcribed from steno.

Let’s address the nerve factor.

My opinion is that candidates who “initially mess up,” experience lack of confidence in their ability for write that particular speed.

Those who “struggle” in the middle of a test or a take may suffer from lack of self-confidence and/or lack of ability for write that speed.

Problems towards the end of dictation indicate, to me, that the person does not have stamina at that speed.

Study your notes. Discover where you’re struggling; then build that area.

Gelsenium, homeopathy, and Rescue Remedy (Bach Flower Remedy) assists people with anxiety associated with public speaking and performance, test-taking, situations. Health food stores carry these items. They work wonders calming butterflies.

I recommend practicing 20 minutes. Readback, get up, stretch, sit down and get back to work.

Maintain a schedule. Chart your progress.

Having problems with specific prefixes, suffixes? How about finger combinations? Finger drills are great.

Practice when you’re most alert.

Write during your anticipated test time to peak your mental and physical skills.

Act on your goals; know that you deserve to pass the test.

After you’ve studied and honed your skills, relax and go play.

Train as an athlete. Concentrate on nutrition; focus on skills preparations.

And when you surrender your state or national test, you should be able to say, “Here, certify this!”

~~ –Monette, named the Court Reporting Whisperer by students, may be reached:

Purple Books – Court Reporter Reference Books & CDs:   * Advance skills, pass NCRA and State exams the 1st time

Monette Benoit, B. B.A., CCR, CRI, CPE, Paralegal, CART Captioner, Instructor, Consultant, Columnist

Since 1990: Multiple Title Author of Books & Purple Books Test Prep for the Court Reporting, CART Captioning Profession

An American RealTime/Captioning Services, LLC:        Blog: Monette’s Musings,

Have you failed NCRA’s RPR, RDR, or a State exam?  More than once?   Purple Books “Done in One” has a 98% successful pass rate on exams with sets as evidenced by thousands of students and professionals who pass their RPR, CSR, and RDR exams on the first test.   Testimonials:

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About Monette Benoit:    As a 30+ year court reporter, CART captioner, author of NCRA and State test-prep material, instructor, public speaker, Monette Benoit has taught multiple theories, academics, all speed classes, and 225-homeroom within NCRA-approved schools and a community college. She understands challenges many adults face in our industry.

In 1993, she began to CART caption to a large screen for a Deaf mass, San Antonio, Texas.  Wonderful opportunities then presented from Big D, Little D, Oral Deaf, HOH consumers -each with special moments.

Monette Benoit has worked with thousands of professionals, court reporters, CART captioners, students, instructors. She has helped to create new court reporting training programs, worked with federal grants, and assisted instructors in developing curriculum for both in-class and at-home students.

Her one-on-one tutoring, private coaching, has assisted thousands of students, novice and experienced professionals to reach the next level.

Monette’s Musings is an informative, motivational, and funny blog for busy professionals and students who seek to create their success and who seek to enjoy this special path.

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