Product Reviews

Transcender VB-Cert/Windows 7.0

I got off to a slow start with Transcender's practice software for the 70-306 Visual Basic .NET certification exam. It took quite a few e-mails back and forth with customer service to get a license "System Key" that the product would agree to recognize; the "get your key online automatically" function never did work for me. I fear their licensing scheme goes beyond effective protection of their property and into sheer annoyance for me, though I hope my experience was atypical. Then there was a 2MB download of updates for the exam, which proceeded at a snail's pace; their server did not want to deliver bits as fast as even my pokey frame relay connection would accept them.

Eventually, though, I got the product up and running. What I found was a solid simulation of the VB .NET Windows exam. The questions are pretty well indistinguishable from Microsoft exam items -- which means you'll find ambiguous questions and ones that use a long setup that's irrelevant to the actual question, just as you will on the real exam. The Transcender interface does a faithful job of simulating what you'll see in the testing center as well (except, of course, the testing center won't let you take a break to work on other stuff on the same computer).

When you're done with the exam, you can get a traditional scoring report in the same format that Microsoft uses, telling you whether you managed to pass or not. But then, as you'd expect from a training product, you can go back and review the questions and see the right answers. Each answer is explained so you can see the rationale that the item writer had in mind (and argue with it if you like). For many answers, there are hyperlinks back to MSDN for the information straight from the horse's mouth. Others reference particular pages in PROFESSIONAL VB .NET, which isn't very useful if you don't own that book.

VB-Cert/Windows comes with three complete practice exams. In addition to standard exams, you can configure it to provide adaptive testing, or build a custom exam containing questions for specified study areas.

[This review originally appeared in

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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Reader Comments:

Sat, Oct 13, 2007 Maria MD

I used Transcender for Security Plus. The question explanations go into a lot of detail, which can effectively supplement your Comptia text. On the other hand, I had difficulty assessing my real grasp of the information for 2 reasons. (1) Transcender asks a lot of questions whose answers are not found in the Comptia text, so you have to memorize information question by question rather than read about it in detail (sure you can Google it, but not all searches return reputable and Comptia test worthy explanations). (2) When I took the 300 question test, I kept getting in the 60% range. But when I took the test 1 topic at a time (i.e. 72 questions on Infrastructure Security only), I scored in the 90's. That seemed too extreme of a difference to me. Perhaps something is wrong with the test engine? Anyway, I've compared Transcender to a few other free sites (MSMCSE.com, and Free-Tests.com, to name a few). To me, there are harder questions out there for free, so if you want to be challenged deep in the weeds, don't waste your money. However, if you want a test engine tell you in detail what the wrong and right answers are, and why, you'll be happy with the product.

Sat, Oct 13, 2007 Maria MD

I used Transcender for Security Plus. The question explanations go into a lot of detail, which can effectively supplement your Comptia text. On the other hand, I had difficulty assessing my real grasp of the information for 2 reasons. (1) Transcender asks a lot of questions whose answers are not found in the Comptia text, so you have to memorize information question by question rather than read about it in detail (sure you can Google it, but not all searches return reputable and Comptia test worthy explanations). (2) When I took the 300 question test, I kept getting in the 60% range. But when I took the test 1 topic at a time (i.e. 72 questions on Infrastructure Security only), I scored in the 90's. That seemed too extreme of a difference to me. Perhaps something is wrong with the test engine?

Anyway, I've compared Transcender to a few other free sites (MSMCSE.com, and Free-Tests.com, to name a few). To me, there are harder questions out there for free, so if you want to be challenged deep in the weeds, don't waste your money. However, if you want a test engine tell you in detail what the wrong and right answers are, and why, you'll be happy.

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