Whether you have taken the AAERT examination for certification or are contemplating taking this examination, I think we can agree that it represents a significant milestone in achieving a recognizable level of professional competence in the world of digital reporting and transcribing. I share my experience to impart some flavor of what it was like for me to take this test and perhaps share some smiles.
The Transcriber Certification test was being offered within a mile of where I lived. Thus, there wouldn't be any time that it would be more convenient for me to take it. Today being test day, I loaded my luggage carrier with computer, keyboard, foot pedal, mouse, pillow to help me sit high enough in the chair for keyboarding, headphones, backup pair of headphones, extension cord, batteries, a Monster drink, a map, three Number 2 pencils, two permanent ink pens, and four CDs. I only needed one CD, but I wanted to be prepared.
It really wasn't a long walk. It included a wooded path that is a shortcut to South Van Dorn Street, my destination. So I walked. It sounds so simple. However, once I got to Van Dorn, it was a quarter mile uphill to get to the hotel, uphill with a luggage carrier overloaded with my gear.
NOTE TO SELF: Next time take a taxi.
I arrived at the test room sweating bullets. I don't care what they say about a glow. I was not a pretty sight. So much for a calm and cool start to taking the test. By now I was doing a pretty good imitation of a hyperactive adult. I didn't need the Monster; I was totally wired on adrenaline as it turned out. I proceeded to get ready to take the written portion of this test.
I had actually studied pretty diligently for this examination. Do not presume that I was overly nervous or subject to test anxiety or anything such as that, but for a minute or so, I forgot how to read. For another minute or so, I didn't recognize any of the answers to this test! Between hyperventilating and chewing on my pencil eraser and investigating if I could bite my nails at the same time, I answered the hundred or so questions. This was not a warm, cuddly experience. When I finished, I took some time to go over my answers. On that second read, it seemed that I hadn't done half bad! In other words, I didn't have the inclination to change my answers. I suppose I could have been way off base twice, but I couldn't imagine that the transcription gods would be that cruel.
Now a15-minute break and time for the transcription test. A piece of cake for sure. My hands were shaking from here to California, and my mouse absolutely refused to go anywhere I needed it to go without major time and attention.
NOTE TO SELF: Next time, if there is a next time, bring a mouse pad.
Actually, the transcription test in and of itself was not that tough. I, however, must write a book about how to make a major production out of an ordinary activity. I still have no idea how to control hand shake. What a mess I was!
I finished, just, but I finished. I even had two minutes to proofread. Somehow -- exactly how remains one of the great mysteries of our time -- I lost the line numbering on every page after page three of the just-completed transcript. In the process of getting the line numbers back and using the mouse that, if you recall, was totally recalcitrant, I now wound up at a screen
to convert to PDF format that filled the entire computer screen. I didn't want to do this, nor did I want to know how to convert anything to PDF. Yet, here is this new screen in my way, scheming to keep me from finding the menu to format line numbers.
At this point I'm yelling at my computer. I do not remember whether I used some choice four-letter words or not. I remember GeGe Watts, the test monitor, asking me if I was okay. I imagine I looked and sounded a bit crazed.
You can stop sitting on the end of your chair. I will end the suspense. I got the line numbers back in, but somewhere in the process lost the two margin lines, apparently forever. I should put an ad in the Craigslist, Inc. for lost and found. Really, where did they go?
Thank you, Lord, I finally got out of PDF-ville hopefully not to return for at least the ten minutes remaining to finish this examination. I was able to save to CD only with more hyperventilating and admonishment to my computer which by now has become an indelible inclusion in the procedures that must be followed to get things right.
My sense was that I needed some luck, especially because I did not have time to proof the transcript. I was too busy finding the line numbers. Still, with just a little bit of luck, I passed.
Next I am going to write that article about why certification isn't important so I have it ready in the event I don't pass. But of course, certification is important and passing this examination spared me from trying to suggest that it isn't.
Just sharing. What a day!
NOTE TO SELF: Take a taxi home. And I did.
I passed! For those of you just starting on the journey to certification, good luck to you. You will do fine and hopefully will not stress as much as I did. I look forward to sharing with you the personal sense of accomplishment that comes with achieving certification.