Product Reviews

This is Just A test!

Transcender's SQL-DesignCert 8.0 proves worthy

I started my career as a Microsoft Certified Professional in 1994, well before the simulation exams and study guides (which are now so commonplace) even existed. Do I consider myself more qualified than someone who had access to study guides and simulation exams? Absolutely not. Sure I had to study hard and practice the exam disciplines, but you still need to do that today. My MCSE or MCDBA are no more different than yours. Certification is about demonstrating a level of knowledge in a particular technology. I say use whatever tools help you gain that knowledge, and Transcender's SQL-DesignCert v8.0 is excellent for assisting you in your SQL studies.

Transcender is one of the older simulation exam providers; at least it's the first supplier I ever heard of. It has released many versions of simulations exams, improving the features and functionality of both the testing engine and the exam content. The quality of the questions in the Transcender products are excellent, as they accurately match the type and difficulty of questions Microsoft will be asking in the actual exam. My biggest complaint about sample exams was they didn't help you study; rather, they allowed you to see what an exam would look like. The exam told you whether the question was right or wrong and scored you at the end. You were never told why you got the question wrong, just that it was wrong and here is the right answer. You could run through the exam several times, and each time you would get the same questions; eventually you would memorize the questions and get them all right. Thinking you were a star, you booked your exam-maybe you passed, maybe you didn't.

Transcender has changed this model by including several useful learning features. Transcender offers three full exams in this version of SQL-DesignCert v8.0, which makes memorizing the questions much more difficult. It also offers the ability to create custom exams, which allows you select questions in areas which you know you have difficulty, instead of wasting time on something you know cold. Also, you can have the program create a random exam from all available questions. In addition, when you review the questions you get wrong, the product provides an explanation of each possible answer, not just the correct one. This allows you to learn why you got it. If the brief explanation Transcender includes isn't sufficient, it provides references to the SQL books online and the Microsoft Official Curriculum courses for more in-depth review.

The user interface is easy to use and simulates the test environment quite well. It's not exact, but Transcender uses the same style of questions and differences won't bother someone who has written an online exam before. Transcender also allows the product to sit in a corporate environment in which an administrator can offer the exam to several employees and keep track of their progress. This is an excellent feature to determine if all the money you're spending on training is paying off.

The one thing Transcender is missing in its simulation is the pressure of losing $100 an exam if you fail, but I suppose that's why we want simulations before you open your wallet.

I have written about 30 Microsoft certification exams in my career; if I had tools like Transcender when I started I'm sure the several months of prep I needed for an exam in the early days would have been shortened to weeks. Good luck!

About the Author

Stewart Cawthray, MCSE, ITIL Service Manager, is an IT management consultant for Hewlett-Packard.

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