Self Test's MCSE exam tools help get you ready for the real thing.
- By Todd M. Link
In college, I had a professor who enjoyed giving comprehensive exams
from a 1,000-page textbook without first supplying a study review. He
wouldn't even give a hint as to which chapters to pay special attention
to during our cram sessions (and cram sessions they were). He would come
in on Monday and inform us that the exam would be on Friday. "That should
give you ample time to study," he'd say. He reasonedunconvincinglythat
if we'd completed all of our assignments and read the book thoroughly,
the exam should be a breeze. It never was.
This is pretty much how one can expect to feel about Microsoft's MCSE
certification exams, especially if a good memory is your primary weapon
in the certification battle. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a networking
newbie, the road to certification is bumpy without proper preparation.
Self Test Software's MCSE test preparation products should give you the
edge you need.
There are three main components to Self Test's product: the practice
test, Flash Cards, and My Mentor.
The Practice Test
There are two practice test modes: Learning Mode and Certification
Mode. In Learning Mode, you tailor the test to your specific study needs.
You set the number of questions, the type of questions (i.e. drag-and-drop
or multiple-choice), and when you view the correct answers. You may also
request that questions come from a specific area covered by the exam.
In Certification Mode, your exam is timed and no answers are provided
until the exam is complete. Both modes closely simulate real test questions
Flash cards have been a popular method for studying since dirt
was invented. Why? Because they work! With the Flash Card feature, Self
Test offers the essentials for in-depth studying. When working with the
flash cards, you won't be tricked by any of the more obscure questions;
just expect a healthy dose of questions that will certainly be on the
exams in one form or another.
2 a. m., 6:30 a. m., 5 p.m., 11:30 p.m.whatever time of day
or night I used this feature, the response was always the same: quick,
courteous and correct. Each time I needed the online mentor, he or she
was right there as if they'd been waiting for me. The mentors answer all
questions in a clear, concise manner. Each interaction was true a customer
Without a doubt, the product's key feature is its Learning Mode. After
answering each question, you can display the answer immediately. Not only
are you given an explanation of the correct answer, but also an explanation
on why the other options are incorrect. The explanations are all detailed,
yet concise and easy to understand. This kind of instant feedback provides
an exam candidate with a highly effective learning opportunity as opposed
to simple question memorization. My Certification Mode scores rose after
each Learning Mode exam I took.
Another aspect I liked is that this product doesn't, like so many others
on the market, get in its own way. I once reviewed a test preparation
vendor's product and one of the things the sales rep was so proud of was
a feature that informed the user how to best guess at the answer. I don't
believe that company is in business anymore. Too often companies add bells
and whistles in an effort to gain market share; the result is usually
a cluttered, unfriendly interface. Self Test Software seems content on
sticking to the basics; by doing this, it has created a product that should
supply all the knowledge and confidence needed to pass the exams. That's
all the bells and whistles I need.
MCSE Core Bundle (BN-M06, which includes exams 70-210,70-215,70-216
and 70-217), $336.60 bundled or $99 individually; Self Test Software,
(770) 643-3600, www.selftestsoftware.com.
Todd M. Link has a degree in networking technologies and works with both Windows 2000 and Novell NetWare products. He writes many network-related articles.