Online Testing FAQs

 

Online Skills Testing - FAQs, Requirements, and Policies

 

General

What is Online Skills Testing?

Online skills testing provides a platform for candidates to test for the RSR, RPR, RMR, CRR, and CRC Skills Tests using the advanced technologies of Realtime Coach and ProctorU. Candidates test in the convenience of their home, office, or other secure location. Tests are administered via the Realtime Coach platform while being monitored by a live online professional proctor through ProctorU using pre-recorded dictation.

What type of location/environment do I need?

You need a quiet location and internet access that meets the mandatory technical requirements. Place a sign on the door/entrance stating you are taking a test and cannot be disturbed. If possible, position your desk so the door is behind you and visible from your camera, and all windows should be in front of you.

For security reasons, do not speak during the exam or the proctor may file an incident report that will be reviewed by NCRA. Pick a secure and quiet testing environment and remove anything that could make noise or otherwise be a distraction, such as animals. Read through the candidate instructions to ensure you meet the required criteria; for example, your desk should be cleared and have only one monitor and keyboard or a laptop. If your exam is interrupted for any reason beyond ProctorU or Realtime Coach’s control, you will be responsible for re-registering to take another exam during a future testing period at your expense.

Other suggestions to consider: If you are sharing an internet connection with other members of your household, ask them to disconnect from all video games or streaming prior to your scheduled testing appointment.

What is the proctor's role?

NCRA partnered with ProctorU, a proctoring center to provide online testing in the comfort of your home, office, or other secured location of choice. Proctors are provided general guidelines for proctoring all NCRA exams.

The proctor’s role is to:

  • Verify candidate identity
  • Ensure you are abiding by NCRA’s testing rules
  • Ensure you are not receiving any assistance for the duration of your test to produce your exam transcript

They are not trained on steno machines nor the operation of one. They are there to ensure you follow the established rules and protocols for NCRA Online skills Testing.

Should you violate any NCRA testing rules, such as removing your headphones, moving the camera, speaking during the exam except in response to a proctor, leaving the room or moving outside the camera’s range, the proctor is required to submit an incident report. All incident reports are reviewed by NCRA and could result in an automatic failure if NCRA testing rules were violated.

What is NCRA's testing policy?

All online testing candidates are required to sign the following disclaimer prior to test taking.

I acknowledge I am aware of the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) policy concerning testing honesty and integrity. Failure to follow any NCRA Testing procedures may result in my automatic failure and being barred from taking NCRA-administered tests for a minimum of three testing cycles or permanently depending on the nature of the violation. NCRA members may also be suspended or expelled from the association. I understand that the test is the exclusive property of the National Court Reporters Association. Copyright law protects the NCRA Tests. No part of these tests may be copied or reproduced in part or whole by any means whatsoever, including memorization, unless previously authorized by NCRA.

I further attest that the skills exam I am submitting is solely my own and was developed stenographically during the exam. I have used no notes, materials, or other aids other than those provided by NCRA. I further attest that, to the best of my knowledge, I have not retained a copy (either audio, text or stenographically) of the skills exam. Further, if I discover at any time that I have accidentally retained said copy, I will immediately delete it (any and all formats), and notify NCRA promptly of the discovery. I further attest that I will not share any copies of this skills test with others, nor will I share its content (terminology or topic), either privately or on a public forum. The theft or attempted theft of an NCRA Test is punishable as a crime.

How are tests graded?

At the end of your test, you will copy and paste your transcript to generate a preliminary score. Tests are graded against NCRA’s Test Advisory Committee (TAC) approved master transcript for each test. All preliminary test scores 92 percent or above are reviewed by NCRA qualified graders. Test scores less than 92 percent are final grades. You will receive an email from NCRA with your official score.

NOTE: For more information on how tests are graded, visit our What is an Error? guides for:

Where do I locate NCRA testing forms?

All forms are found under Testing Forms.

How do I request special accommodations for testing?

Should you require special accommodations for testing, please notify NCRA at testing@ncra.org immediately upon registration. Please attach medical documentation and specify the required accommodations.

NOTE: Special accommodation requests are required to be submitted at least two (2) weeks prior to your scheduled appointment for adequate time to secure your accommodation.

Scheduling and Registration

What is block scheduling?

Block scheduling is used to simplify the registration and testing process, making it more efficient for our members. Candidates may register for a single attempt for each eligible Skills Test during the open registration period to test during the subsequent testing period.

What is the schedule for registering and testing?

Skills Tests are valid only during the testing period you register for and expire at the end of the testing period (20th) if not taken or canceled. (i.e., register August 1-20 for RPR to test September 1-20 for RPR. August registration is for September testing only and will expire September 21 if tests have not been completed or canceled.)

110-1 Certification - Online Skills Test Schedule_v4

 

Can I register for more than one test at a time?

Yes. Candidates can register for a single attempt at each eligible Skills Test they wish to take during each testing period. Candidates must register and pay for each test individually.

Example: Candidates may register for one attempt at RPR Jury Charge or register for one attempt for each of the three RPR legs: Jury Charge, Literary, and Testimony.

NOTE: Registration is every other month 1-20, followed by a testing period 1-20 in the subsequent month (i.e., register August 1-20 and test September 1-20).

Can I register for future test months in any registration period?

No. Only one testing period is open at a time during each registration. Testing is the 1st through the 20th of the month following each registration period. (i.e., register August 1-20 and test September 1-20).

How do I register?

Visit Online Skills Test Registration to register during an open registration period. After registration, please allow three (3) business days to receive an NCRA email confirmation with instructions on scheduling your tests. You must schedule your tests with ProctorU within the valid testing period for which you registered. NCRA tests are not deferrable; therefore, you are responsible for registering for the correct test/s.

CRITICAL NOTE: NCRA is not responsible for incorrect test registrations. If you register for the wrong test during the registration period, you must submit a cancellation form, prior to the end of the testing period to request a refund. A $35 processing fee will be assessed for each test you cancel. You must then reregister and pay for the correct test during the next open registration period.

How do I schedule my test after I register?

Candidates will receive a confirmation email within three (3) business days of registration. Upon receipt of the email, candidates should schedule their tests to secure their preferred test date and time during the testing period following registration. Scheduling instructions are included in the confirmation email.

NOTE: All tests must be scheduled 72 hours in advance of your desired date and time during the testing period that immediately follows registration.

Can I schedule my test for an evening or weekend during the testing period?

NCRA Skills Tests can be scheduled any day and time that is convenient for you within the valid testing period you registered for.

NOTE: NCRA staff is not available after hours, on weekends, or on any Federal holidays. NCRA office and Member Service hours are Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Eastern time).

Do I have to test during the subsequent testing window following my registration window?

Yes. Tests not taken during the testing period immediately following the registration period will expire unless canceled before the testing period ends on the 20th of the testing month.

Can I extend my test registration from one testing period to the next?

No. Tests are not deferrable. Tests must be taken during the testing period immediately following registration. (i.e., if you register in June, you must test during the July 1-20 testing period; tests will expire on July 21). There are NO extensions.

Can I cancel a test?

Yes. Candidates needing to cancel an Online Skills Test must cancel by the end of the testing period based on the test registrations being canceled. A signed SKT Cancellation Form  must be sent to testing@ncra.org. All refunds processed by NCRA fee will be credited back to the original form of payment used at registration. There is a $35 processing fee for each test canceled.

 

 

Practice

Can I practice the online testing procedure before taking the real test?

Yes, and practicing is strongly recommended. You have access to practice files at www.myrealtimecoach.com. Use your NCRA membership ID as your username; that’s the account used for your real test. You may repeat any practice test as many times as needed. Once acclimated to the site layout, testing steps, and attaching files you then have the option to schedule up to two (2) complimentary proctored practice tests when you are register for an online skills test. By doing so, you can confirm all your equipment is working properly prior to testing: e.g., your webcam, microphone, wired headset, and internet connection.

If possible, try to schedule your proctored practice tests on the same day of the week and time you plan to test. When ready to take a proctored practice test, click the Practice icon. If registered for a real exam, the icon will be displayed without the word Practice.

NOTE: If you accidentally click on the real test, you will receive warning indicating it is the real test, not the practice.

Can I use my current Realtime Coach account to test?

If the username for your current Realtime Coach account is not your NCRA member ID, then you risk having duplicate accounts, causing test issues. It is strongly recommended you contact Realtime Coach to have your accounts merged into one prior to registering for an NCRA skills test, ensuring your username is your NCRA member ID. If you choose not to merge accounts, you are solely responsible for logging into the correct Realtime Coach account on your scheduled test date.

Technical

What equipment/technical requirements do I need?
What equipment is not supported?

Currently, ProctorU does not support the following equipment or operating systems (OS):

  • Google Chromebooks
  • Tablets of any kind
  • Smartphones
  • Linux OS
  • Windows 10 in S mode
  • Microsoft Surface RT
  • Any programs/OS no longer supported by the manufacturer will not be supported for testing (i.e., Windows 7 is no longer supported by Microsoft; therefore, it is not supported for testing).

Only one monitor is permitted during testing. If you have additional monitors, you are required to unplug and remove them from the testing area or cover with a towel/blanket.

What are the standard testing procedures?
 

The above link contains detailed instructions on all three mandatory uploads that must be performed to complete your exam:

  1. Upload your notes file (3 minutes)
  2. Upload your transcript file (time varies based on exam)
    • Realtime Exams (CRR/CRC) – 5 minutes
    • Transcript Exams (RSR/RPR/RMR) – 75 minutes
  3. Copy and paste your transcript into the transcript area (2 minutes)

CRITICAL NOTE: If you skip any of the three steps above, your exam will result in an automatic failure.

Candidates taking transcription tests (RSR, RPR, RMR) are authorized to print test documents, including paper notes ONLY if all materials are shredded before closing the exam window.

Candidates taking realtime tests (CRR, CRC) are not authorized to print any materials as the transcript cannot be edited before it is submitted.

Realtime Coach offers videos on testing in their system: Realtime Coach Tips & Tutorials.

 

 

Software and Writer Setting Information

Software and Writer Setting Information

 

CRITICAL NOTE: Proctors are not trained nor allowed to help you with your CAT software. You MUST know how to do the following processes prior to testing:

  • How to place your writer in test mode
  • Temporarily disable any Cloud automatic backup or storage features within your CAT software
  • How to connect your writer to your CAT software (for realtime) or how to read your steno notes into your CAT software (non-realtime)
  • Where to locate your CAT files on your computer
  • How to distinguish the various parts of the CAT file from one another, such as note file vs. transcript file
  • How to edit a transcript in your CAT software (transcription tests: RSR, RPR, RMR)
  • How to mark and copy a chunk of text in your CAT software
    • This part may be new to you because you don’t necessarily do this on a regular basis. If that’s the case, refer to the CAT specific instructions above or contact your CAT software vendor for assistance.
    • If you are taking a realtime test (CRR, CRC) and choose to transcribe in ALL CAPS, this step includes knowing how to maintain capitalization when copying and pasting. In some CAT software, you must select a certain setting or accept conflicts prior to copying. Refer to the CAT specific instructions above or contact your CAT software vendor for assistance.

NCRA strongly recommends you take your first online test as early in the testing period (1st-20th) as possible. This provides more opportunity to resolve testing issues within the same testing period. Always allow ample time in case of delays reaching a proctor or technical issues needing to be addressed prior to test taking.

What should I do if I can't upload files during a proctored practice?

The most common cause of this specific issue is insufficient computer resources. Here are some troubleshooting steps you can take to tackle this issue:

 SKT digram_troubleshooting computer resources  

You do not need to do this for practice files as the practice test is not graded.

 

What if I am unable to complete my test due to a poor internet connection?

The likelihood of this happening is slim. You are required to test your bandwidth before logging in to test. The recommendations set forth by ProctorU and Realtime Coach; not using a wireless internet connection, shutting down all unnecessary programs running on your computer, using their suggested browsers, and taking advantage of the free proctored practice will also help you avoid this scenario.

If you are disconnected from the test site, notify your proctor, and ask them to re-open the test for you.

NOTE: The timer WILL continue to countdown while you are disconnected.

  • If possible, they will re-open the test and you may continue where you left off. Submit your test following the normal procedure. You will not receive a preliminary score. NCRA will be notified and review your test session to determine if your test is still eligible to be graded manually. You will be notified via email of the decision within 5-7 business days.
  • If they are not able to re-open the test, it means that you have run out of time to submit your test.
  • If you choose not to re-open the test, you are forfeiting your registration. It will be marked as Non-Transcribed and is not eligible for cancellation. To test again, you will need to register and pay during the next open registration period.
  • If you did not run out of time and are still not able to re-open the test, or if you have any issues uploading your files to the test site, stay connected to your proctor while you email testing@ncra.org with both your notes and transcript file attached. After sending the email and while still connected to your proctor, delete your test files, including the email in your sent folder, per NCRA testing policies. Your proctor will notify you when the testing session can be closed. NCRA will review your test session to determine if your test is eligible for manual grading.

IMPORTANT: Your test will automatically be ineligible if:

  • you exceeded the time allotted (NOTE: The timer WILL continue to count down while you are disconnected).
  • You were not connected to your proctor for the duration of the test (including deleting the files and email with them attached).
  • you do not attach both the notes and the transcript files to the email.
Are there any tutorials or videos for online testing?

Yes. We have YouTube videos covering every step for the testing process from how to register for a test to how to take a test. Realtime Coach offers videos on testing in their system: Realtime Coach Tips & Tutorials. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the testing process by taking a proctored practice test before your real test.

Security

How can NCRA be sure that candidates will not share content?

NCRA testing information is strictly confidential. By registering to take an online test, candidates agree the subject and words of the test will not be disclosed to other candidates. Failure to adhere to the policy will result in being banned from future testing and termination of NCRA membership.

All ProctorU proctors are connected to candidates live with real time audio and video connections. Additionally, proctors view a live feed of the candidate’s monitor through screen-sharing technology. After authenticating their identity, candidates must show their entire secured workspace by providing a 360-degree scan of the room, desk, and/or workspace.

ProctorU uses multiple levels of recording and reporting, including full session video and audio with screen capturing. The screen-sharing software used by ProctorU provides the proctor with a list of current running processes. Proctors can remotely disable and/or close unauthorized software on the test-taker’s computer. Additionally, you are required by ProctorU to remove secondary monitors and disable unnecessary software.

Candidates are required to acknowledge they are aware of NCRA’s policy concerning testing honesty and integrity. See www.NCRA.org/SKT for the full policy.

How will ProctorU know the correct person is taking the test?

ProctorU has a layered authentication process to establish the candidate’s identity.

  • Via a webcam, a live proctor can see the user, checks their government issued photo ID, and takes the user’s photo to keep on file. NOTE: If the webcam is moved after its location has been approved by the proctor, the proctor will interrupt the testing session due to security concerns, and the test may be terminated.
  • Sophisticated keystroke analysis software is used to create a profile for each user.