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Should you take the Relativity Certified Administrator exam?

Should you take the Relativity Certified Administrator exam?

Time and time again (usually during a happy hour), the common question comes up "Is it worth it to get my RCA?" Some people want me to say "No!" to validate their reasons for putting it off, but I won't do that here. For those who are debating on whether or not to take the RCA exam, keep reading.

Quick - What is the RCA?

Per the Relativity website, "The Relativity Certified Administrator (RCA) program ensures that case administrators fully understand Relativity’s capabilities, allowing you to maximize the software’s flexibility and provide an intuitive interface for end users."

The RCA exam is difficult. Let’s start by stating the obvious, the Relativity Certified Administrator (RCA) exam is nothing to sneeze at. Even if you are a Relativity ninja, I guarantee that you will need to spend several hours of studying in order to pass. Most likely you will need to do your exam prep on your own time, and even after all the coffee, sweat, and tears you spend studying, you will still need to score at least an 80% to pass. The 80% passing requirement seems a little ludicrous to me, as years of organized education taught me that 65% was passing, but hey, their test, their rules. Fortunately, there is a myriad of study materials on the Relativity website.

When faced with a difficult decision, I like to draft a pros and cons list. I took the RCA exam back in 2015, but if I were to take it again, this would be my list:

  • Pros:
    • Improves my marketability to employers
    • Improves my employer’s marketability to clients
    • Tests my knowledge
    • Bragging rights
    • Lasts "forever" as long as annual RCE (Relativity Continuing Education) requirements are met
  • Cons:
    • Very difficult
    • Large time commitment for preparation
    • Dilution (as more people receive the certification)
    • Platform dependent

Is listing "RCA" on your resume worth the hours of studying and anxiety? Well it depends.

Skill level matters: If you use Relativity in an administrative capacity everyday, you are already in good shape for taking the exam. If you have NEVER used Relativity as an administrator, then you will need to invest a considerable amount of time in preparation to pass the exam. I am less inclined to recommend taking the exam outright if you fall into the latter category.

Years of experience vs. RCA: You can most certainly land a Relativity Admin job based on years of experience alone, however, several jobs “require” that you have it, and it is not expired. This is especially true for government and government contract roles where “RCA” is explicitly written into contracts as a candidate requirement for certain job titles. Even if you aren’t applying to a government contract role requiring an RCA, more and more companies are explicitly seeking RCA candidates to fill their eDiscovery roles. Think about it this way, if you are applying for a role and have a stellar resume (sans RCA) and you are up against someone else with a stellar resume plus an RCA, who will get picked? All else equal, the person with the RCA will be selected for the role. Additionally, firms advertise how many employees have their RCA as a marketing technique to attract clients.

While this may not sound “fair” to those who are Relativity-savvy admins without an RCA, it comes down to the fact that people like things they can measure, and certifications are one of them.

Platform-dependence: Unlike other certifications, the RCA is only relevant if you are actually using Relativity in some capacity. If you are applying for a role at a company that doesn't use Relativity and has no intention to use it, then the RCA is basically moot from a practical standpoint. Likewise, if/when Relativity ever sunsets to Concordance, your cert won't hold much value.

If I haven’t completely scared you away from taking the RCA exam (I hope not!), then here are some quick experience tips that you won't find listed on the Relativity site:

  1. If you have never used Relativity in an administrative capacity (aka as a “Systems Administrator”), I would recommend that you start by taking the Relativity Certified User (RCU) exam first. The RCU is easier and will get you familiar with the style of questions asked on the RCA.
  2. Be aware of version differences. The Relativity version that you use daily for work may not be the same version that the exam is on. For minor version differences, you will likely be fine, however major version discrepancies can throw seasoned admins for a loop, especially when under a time crunch for the hands-on portion of the exam. The tested version can change somewhat frequently, so be sure to check on the Relativity site.
  3. Don’t be fooled by the idea of multiple-choice like questions for the online quiz portion of the exam. These are not your traditional scantron questions are designed to be tricky and test your knowledge. I found this "quiz" section of the exam to be more difficult than the hands-on project section.
  4. Consider taking the exam in-person vs. proctored online. While the online proctored exams are more convenient, I found these to be anxiety-inducing as every time I touched my hand to my face or glanced my eyes to the ceiling to think, the proctor reprimanded me (they are seriously watching you nonstop). This is not a deal-breaker, but it was very annoying.
  5. BREATHE! Even if you don't pass the exam, you will at least have a better idea of what to expect for the next time. You can always take it again. Your career is not over.

I hope this helped you make the decision that is best for you and your eDiscovery career. I look forward to writing more posts like this.

Peace, love, and eDiscovery 

Heather