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AAERT Certification: Why Me?
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AAERT Certification:  Why Me?

by K.C. Corbin, CER, CET

Many reporters and transcribers ask the question, "Why should I get certified?" The main reasons are it lends credibility, professionalism, and increases your marketability. When I worked as a scopist, there was no certification available. I was just one in a sea of scopists asking reporters to take a chance on me just because.

There are a number of states who are beginning to require certification for both reporters and transcribers, and that number keeps growing. Obtaining your certification before it is mandatory gives you the leg up on those who must take the exams under more pressure.

Tips for taking the transcriber's practical exam:

  1. Be sure to study the federal transcript format. Since every jurisdiction has its own requirements for producing a transcript, the federal format provides the standard upon which the testing is based. AAERT's Best Practices Guide also uses federal guidelines as its standard because of the differences found across the United States. These are the links to the information on the AAERT website:

  2. Federal Format Template - Word Document
    Federal Format Template - WordPerfect
    Federal Format Template - WordNote

    The federal format may not be one you are used to working with, but it is the one AAERT uses and needs to be followed rather than how you are producing transcripts in your jurisdiction.

  3. The Best Practices Guide. The Guide is $75 for non-members and $50 for members. The investment is worth the wealth of information and guidance it contains for studying to pass both the reporter and transcription tests.

  4. Study grammar and punctuation from reliable sources. Margie Wakeman Wells has many books regarding grammar and punctuation. Lillian Morson's English Guide for Court Reporters and The Gregg Reference Manual are also excellent resources. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, The Oxford Dictionary, and The Cambridge Dictionary are all available online and are some of the best authorities on word usage and punctuation. Avoid and Wikipedia for reference.

  5. Online resources
  6. USCRA Transcript Format
    AAERT Online Certification Sample Questions

  7. Read and understand the information which is sent to you from AAERT regarding testing. All the information you need is provided in emails, log notes, and the case sheet. Don't ignore the spellings, names, and other information that is supplied, the same as a reporter should provide to a transcriber.

  8. Use Word or WordPerfect auto correct or a productivity software such as SpeedType to be able to set up phrases, repetitive words, and such things as attorney names in colloquy. This will help prevent spelling mistakes, lends consistency to your typing, and it cuts down on the number of keystrokes needed to complete a transcript.

  9. The last piece of advice is to relax. Study ahead of time, and then do what you know how to do.
The AAERT Certification Committee maintains the certification exams for digital court reporting and transcription that are available to AAERT members. The Committee grades the practical portion of the certification exam. The Committee also updates all certification-related materials.

K.C. Corbin, CER, CET is an AAERT Director and Chair of the Certification Committee. After working as a chef, catering manager, computer programmer, owner of KC Scope & Scribe, she finally figured out what she wanted to do "when she grew up." K.C. is currently an official reporter in Hamilton County, Indiana.


K.C. Corbin, CER, CET




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