E-Discovery Certification: Taking the RCU

Regina Rana, Esq. / Discovery Associate / Tanenholz & Associates

The Relativity Certified User Exam

I had been working with the Relativity platform for five years before finally deciding to prep and sit for the Relativity Certified User Exam (RCU). This exam tests a user’s knowledge of the software’s “core features.”  I use the word “user” very deliberately as the proper term for a person accessing the Relativity environment. Understanding the official terminology of Relativity was essential for passing the exam.

More importantly, however, exam prep revealed a few surprising knowledge gaps for anyone who spends their days navigating Relativity as a review attorney. Specifically, I now better understand how to use newer features like pivots and analytics, as well as other quality control tools not regularly enabled for all user groups, such as email thread visualization (EVT).

Prepping for the Exam

Even with 5 years of experience as a review attorney, I still found that I needed extensive preparation. The questions on the exam can be very specific.

For anyone wanting to prepare for the exam, the Relativity study resources provide a good overview of the tested topics.  However, practice tests and questions are sparse, which makes it difficult to fully prepare for the format, structure, and specificity of the exam questions.

I recommend using every video linked in the recommended study guides.  While someone experienced with Relativity may feel these materials cover well-trodden terrain, they re-frame familiar tasks in new terminology. They also act as a sealant for newly acquired knowledge..

I was fortunate enough to have Tanenholz & Associates pay for the preparation and the exam itself. This ultimately prompted me to schedule a firm exam date. The new office space also provided the perfect space for both self-study and collaboration in study groups with my fellow Discovery Associates.

Taking the Test

Fortunately, Relativity offers the RCU exam through an online exam provider called PSI, so scheduling and taking the test can be done quickly and easily from home. Your home computer and web camera do need to meet the proper requirements, though. Personally, taking the test in a comfortable environment removed much of the stress normally associated with testing.

The browser-based exam program lets you easily flag questions you want to revisit. You can also skip questions and the program will automatically return you to any unanswered question once you reach the last question. As a result, I did not feel the one-hour exam time was a limiting factor.

Results are available immediately after you finish the test.  Fortunately, I passed! But if you do need to retake the exam, the score breakdown of each topic helps to identify any gaps in your knowledge.


At its core, the RCU is a litmus test for understanding how each basic feature of Relativity is greater than the sum of its parts. This creates a shared language which helps improve workflows between vendors, firms, project managers, and review attorneys by ensuring nothing gets lost in translation.

It also pieces together the various tools in Relativity across all levels of review. For example, familiarity with various search types and best practices for search strings in Relativity will help me identify key issues and coding patterns more quickly. It also will streamline my quality control both contemporaneously within a batch and also for more targeted searches. Overall, the RCU has provided me the literacy needed for a more efficient review process.

~ Article by RCU Certified User Regina Rana, Esq.

~ Regina is a Discovery Associate at the boutique E-Discovery firm Tanenholz & Associates.

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