Online Study Group
NALS Online Study Group has been revamped to make it easier and more inclusive for everyone taking a NALS Certification exam. To assist those preparing for their exams, NALS will hold a series of WebEd sessions with coverage over all parts of the exam, as well as exam specific reviews for the ALP, PLS, and the Professional Paralegal (PP). The series will wrap up with a general session over test taking tips.
All Sessions are at 8 p.m. central and are worth 1 hour of CLE.
- August 5, 2014 – Part 1: Written Communications
- August 12, 2014 – Part 2: Office Procedures and Technology
- August 19, 2014 – Part 3: Ethics, Human Relations, and Judgment Skills
- August 26, 2014 – Part 4: Legal Knowledge and Skills
- September 9, 2014 – ALP Review
- September 16, 2014 – PLS Review
- September 23, 2014 – PP Review
- September 24, 2014 – Test Taking Tips
- ALP Series (Part 1, 2, 3, ALP Review & Test Taking Tips) - $75.00 (Member and Nonmember)
- PLS Series (Part 1, 2, 3, 4, PLS Review & Test Taking Tips) - $99.00/$150.00 (Member/Nonmember)
- PP Series (Part 1, 2, 3, 4, PP Review & Test Taking Tips) - $99.00/$150.00 (Member/Nonmember)
- Individual parts - $35.00/each (Member and Nonmember)
How to Get Started & Take Off
- First, decide to take the exam. Make a commitment.
- Make an affirmation, telling yourself you can do whatever you set out to do. Visualize yourself passing the exam.
- Be optimistic – develop a survivor personality. Survivors remember that they are precious people first, and mothers, employees, or otherwise upstanding citizens second. Don’t let outside duties keep you from meeting your goal.
- Tell someone about your decision to take the exam. Hang out with positive people you know will encourage you to complete the test.
- Don’t let any unexpected event or fear stop you.
How to Take a Test
- General rule: Break each question into the stem and the alternatives, understanding the stem first. Underline key terms and clue words in the stem.
- Read the directions carefully. Some questions may be partly correct in themselves, but not when joined to the stem question.
- If faced with vague terminology, define in your own words. Think of the correct answer and then look for it among the alternatives.
- Don’t guess too soon. You must select not only a technically correct answer, but the most completely correct answer.
- Be wary of unqualified absolutes such as “never,” “always,” “is,” “are,” “guarantees,” “insures.” These words make the questions highly restrictive and very difficult to defend.
- Be wary of the extra-long or “jargon-y option.” These are often decoys.
- Use knowledge of common prefixes, suffixes, and word roots to make intelligent guesses about terminology you don’t know, e.g., hypertension has root word “hyper,” referring to high, not low, blood pressure.
- Use information and insights acquired in doing the exam to go back and answer earlier items that you weren’t sure of.
- If you are not certain of an answer, guess . . . but do so methodically. Eliminate some choices you know are incorrect and relate each alternative back to the stem of the question to see if it fits. Narrow the choices, compare them, and make an informed guess.
- If you have absolutely no idea what the answer is, and there is no scoring penalty for guessing, choose option B or C. Studies indicate that these are correct slightly more often than predicted by chance alone.
- Think the answer is wrong? Maybe you should change it? Studies indicate when examinees change their answers, they usually change them to the wrong answer. If you were fairly certain you were correct the first time, leave the answer as it is.
- Finally, the best way to ensure selection of the correct option is to know the right answer. A word to the test-wise is sufficient.
- Watch your time. Do easy questions or sections first. This will help calm your nerves and establish your concentration.
- Mark where you should be after one hour or two hours to ensure you are not falling behind. Work at a fairly quick pace. Reviewing carefully may eat up your time. If you’re behind after the first hour, you may have to choose between speeding up (and possibly making errors) or not finishing. Keep up your pace by working through the easy questions quickly, then coming back to the more difficult ones. Answer only if you are 100% certain of the answer. Put a “?” by those that need more thought.
- Process the question. Careless mistakes are often made when rushing through the “stem” or first part of the question, missing important information. Read the question carefully, underlining key terms. Watch for negative or positive phrasing, or qualifying words like “always” or “never” which can drastically change the meaning of a statement.
- Before looking at possible answers, try to recall the answer on your own. Then look at the alternatives to see which one best matches your answer. As you review the answers, mark off the ones you know are wrong to reduce your reading time if you come back to the question later. If none of the selections seems close, reread the question to see what you missed. If you still can’t get it, go on. Something in another question may trigger your memory so you can recall the answer later.
- Two similar answers? Often you must choose the best answer, which may be similar to the second best answer. If this is a problem, you may need to look at how you’re studying. You may have concentrated on recognition of terms rather than understanding their significance. Or, it could indicate you need to study the material in more depth. If this is the case, you may have to carefully analyze your errors, possibly using a mock exam.
You can keep track of your likely success as you take the exam by remembering that you can miss 30% of the questions and still pass the section. Determine the number of questions and how many you can miss, then as you test note the question number you may wish to go back to review. That will give you an indication of the likelihood of passing the section after the exam.
There’s a great Internet site about taking tests with numerous links for certification purposes or school age children . . . check out www.4tests.com/resources/helpfultips.asp.
We’ve all heard the success stories from those we know who have been certified . . . a new-found respect at work, a realization that this is a great career, respect for the profession and caring more for the importance of the work we do and its positive effect for the attorneys’ clients. Certification and what follows can and does create life changes.
Remember, just do it, or just say yes. Pass or fail, testing yourself is always an enriching, learning experience.
There are websites that will help you improve your spelling and grammar. NALS’ certification exams The Gregg Reference Manual, the Basic Manual for the Lawyer’s Assistant, and the Advanced Manual for the Lawyer’s Assistant, you can attempt to improve your spelling and grammar skills.