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May 27, 2011

NNA Certified Signers who failed our test!

NNA Certified Signing Agents who failed our test!

This story goes back many years, perhaps close to a decade.  123notary.com started off very simply without much technology.  We couldn’t afford to do any more than barely build the site back in those days.  I had to decide whether to have a certification or not.  It looked more professional if we had our own certification. But, it has always been like pulling teeth to convince the NNA certified signers to even consider taking our test.
 
Notaries couldn’t answer simple questions without a long pause.
In the old days, we used to give our certification test by phone. It was a dozen or so basic questions about loan signing that any mediocre signing agent with hardly any experience could probably answer.  What I noticed is that those who passed the National Notary Association’s signing agent exam (NNA certified signers) failed our test roughly 70% of the time.  There was a lot of “umm” and “ahm”, and “hmmm” during the phone exam.  Their CSA exam was open book and without any time limit, so they were used to being able to get away with thinking forever to answer simple questions such as, “Where can you find the Rate in a loan”.  I can’t think of a simpler question.  The harder questions threw most people. I got sick of being patient and waiting for people to answer ridiculously easy questions.  The only thought that ran through my head was that if I were a borrower, I would throw these notaries out of my house if they couldn’t answer simple questions.
 
The timed test
So, then we got some fancy programming done and made an online test.  I was tired of waiting two minutes for the answers to simple questions, so a timed test was the only way for the notaries to prove their manhood or ladyhood. There were revolving questions and a timer. We had a few technical problems along the way, and many didn’t like my style of questions.  As time progressed, we got rid of the “ambiguous” questions, and added a few practical marketing questions.  We also tried to have questions specific to the state where the notary claimed to be, but that turned out to be unpopular, so we dropped it eventually.    The bottom line, was that most notaries couldn’t handle the time pressure — even the NNA certified signing agents.
 
The ex-Mortgage broker’s story
I had a few people who worked in Title or Mortgage houses who assured me that it was a joke that they even had to take my exam.  After all, they had been doing this for 20 years.  So, many people (including NNA certified signers) tried to convince me that they didn’t NEED to take my dumb exam.  Almost all of these overly confident know-it-alls FAILED my test, and then wasted my time arguing with me.  They didn’t read the prep book, and they didn’t know their basics about loan signing regardless of their background.  There is a lot of overlap between Title and Mortgage work and loan signing, but there are additional things you need to know to be a good signer. It is a different profession.
 
What does our test prove?
Roughly 25% of our notaries on board have passed our basic certification exam. The others either failed, or never tried in the first place. If people had spent the same amount of time studying for the test as they did arguing with us about why they shouldn’t have to take the test, their business would be a lot different.  123notary certification proves that you know your basics, and that you can function under extreme time pressure without breaking. That says a lot.  Most people can not handle the pressure.  When I created the test, I could pass it in three minutes and Carmen passed it in four and a half minutes.  Test takers were allowed six and a half minutes to ensure that the majority who studied hard would pass the first time.
 
Does it matter what you think about our test?
What I think about my test, or what you or Carmen think about my test doesn’t matter even slightly.  The browsers care tremendously about my test, and (news flash!) they are the ones who are paying you.  123notary certified signers are three times as likely to get work.  Even browsers who didn’t know what the certification meant, and who had a regular document to be signed like an affidavit which had nothing to do with loan signing still chose certified signers if they could.  Ten years ago, I used 123notary as my primary source of marketing my personal mobile notary work.  Time after time I got called at 11pm to notarize a simple form.  I kept hearing, “We chose you because you were certified and the others were not”.

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