Followers of this blog will have noticed an awfully large number of posts about Relativity lately, and with good reason. I have been study in earnest the past few weeks for the Relativity Certified Administrator Exam, which I took on the morning of October 5, 2016 at kCura's offices in the Chicago Loop. Much to my relief I was able to pass this test.
As you can see from the image above, kCura has become quite an institution in Chicago. Its offices are directly across the street from the Chicago Board of Trade Building. The test consists of a 75 minute hands on exercise in which you are asked to complete a series of tasks in a workspace with sample data from the EDRM Enron data set, (this counts for 60% of the total score) and 150 questions, which you are given 90 minutes to complete, which comprise 40% of the total score
kCura does try to make the test challenging in ways that will not be immediately apparent from the materials one practices with to prepare for the exam. See last night's tip for a big hint on one 'trick' that kCura uses. I was able to get an almost perfect score on my hands on exercise despite not knowing this during the exam.
You are given the hands on exercises when you sign up to take the exam. There are four scenarios, but you are only tested on of these on exam day. I prepared PowerPoint presentations showing each step I needed to take and vetted them carefully. I went through the results of searches I ran and made sure they were accurate and did lots of testing of permissions I was asked to assign to groups given rights to the exam workspaces. The exam prep environment lets you see how other people registered to take the exam are performing the hands on exercises, and if you're smart you'll find one or two people appearing to be particularly adept and get guidance from them.
The load files given with the data used on the test are a point of concern. The load files for the practice data only had one error that I noticed – a date without slashes in the SaltPepper.dat file. The load file given for exam had additional errors but nothing too tricky. Be sure to practice loading data with extracted text linked to as a separate text file and with the document text part of the load file itself. The load file was huge (there were a few hundred documents) and when I opened it with NotePad++ it worked very slowly – which is something which shouldn’t really come up on this kind of test. Also the same delays loading document images or whatever that you get in the prep environment come up in the test environment. Nothing major – a few seconds delay – but it’s annoying and I would have guessed that kCura would have a set-up that eliminated this kind of problem.
kCura's test site is pretty casual. You simply walk right into a conference room and sit down at a computer of your own choosing.
Only a few people (7 or 8?) were taking the test at the same time as me. I was slightly bothered by the mouse they provided – the right click was stiff – but still this wasn’t a major concern. They give you a hard copy of the hands on case – but no PDF. Apparently the proctor has a stack and just distributes them at random.
The 90 minute quiz doesn’t take long to complete. I was somewhat concerned that it would be hard to answer 150 questions in this time period, but it’s not. All of the questions are of the type that you either know or you don’t. No real pondering involved. I was able to go over all of mine a second time (I think I only changed one) and still had time to spare and I was the last person left in the conference room. I think one woman (a current RCA, renewing?) did hers in 45 minutes and then just left.
Clearly there’s a large pool of questions they draw from, so what I saw may not be what you will see if you take the exam. The questions don’t seem to be of a tricky nature. They aren’t trying to mislead you much. While the Search Quick Reference guide is clearly a very helpful study tool, I was really surprised not to see any questions about which operators are available for certain fields, and which filters are available for certain fields. No questions asking you to recognize what a Custom List filter is as opposed to a Multilist filter and so forth. That’s no guarantee you will not get those questions, but apparently these aren’t a core feature of what they test you on. I spent a lot of time memorizing the really boring details on these. They do ask you quite a few questions on what kinds of searches can be run in keyword, dtSearch and Data Grid, so definitely focus on that.
Most of the questions are multiple choice, a lot are True / False, and many are 'select all that apply'. With the last it certainly seems to me that kCura generally wants you to select three options. There were very few matching or hot spot questions and the ones I got seemed very easy. Ignore the quizzes in the Study Materials. I actually went over those the night before and I think it was a waste of valuable time – the silly word scramble questions are something they should discard. More than one question from the online Practice quiz was repeated word for word.
Also not on my quiz were any questions about the options in related items section or the icons in the section above the layout which include Keyboard shortcuts legend and the 'show/hide tab strip' option. This was a surprise.
They may ask a few questions on the quiz about scripts or the options outside of the workspace (queue management and so forth) but not many came up on my quiz. I was going over Resource Pools the night before and this really wasn’t a good use of my time. The main focus seems to be on workspace level stuff, and I don’t think they necessarily exclusively concentrate on stuff highlighted in the admin manual or study materials as things to remember. They want you to be really familiar with the ins and outs of the workspace and spending a lot of time just looking around in the workspace could be quite helpful.
I was super stressed out by this test, and when it was complete I was worried I had not passed. I wandered around the Art Institute just to try force my senses to get preoccupied with something else. As you can see I found some other night owls just like me.
After completing my test at noon, Relativity sent me the results around 6:30 PM. When I finally checked my email after a long night of whiskey drinking I was relieved to find this.