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Self Test's MCSE exam tools help get you ready for the real thing.

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 reasoned—unconvincingly—that 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 and environments.

Flash Cards
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.

24/7 Mentoring
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 service experience.

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,

About the Author

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.


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