Drill and Drill Again
The Virtual Test Center is aimed at a single goal: passing the exams
- By Rick A. Butler
- June 01, 2002
There are many different methods for preparing to take a certification
exam. One technique that many people agree on and use in the final stages
of exam prep is serious practice. Drilling yourself with a gazillion questions
helps to get your brain engaged in "testing mode."
That's were the Virtual Test Center comes in. The VTC is Sybex's way
of answering the call for the gazillion questions needed. They have created
a test question package that is in the same format as their E-Trainer.
The VTC covers all of the "Core-Four" exams on a single CD. It also keeps
a profile on you so you can review your testing history as you go along.
There's also an interesting configuration quirk: You can set the kind
of responses you get from the system. As you go along, you can have the
VTC use praising, neutral, or insulting responses, depending on your overall
outlook on life. (Personally, I go for neutral, since I'm not into tooting
my own horn or self-abasement.)
There are three testing modes you can use. You can go for the Random
option, which simulates the 50-60 question long haul version of the exam,
Adaptive, which mimics that scheme, and Objective, where you can focus
on your weaker areas by getting more questions from those areas. Additionally,
you can set the test software up in practice or testing modes. Practice
allows you to answer the question and find out right away if you got it
right. Testing lets you mimic the real environment to see if you passed
or failed and get a score.
I did see some of the questions using the old "required/optional" objective
format scheme, which Microsoft seems to be phasing out of their testing
in favor of scenario-based questions. However, VTC does introduce the
new style, picking and choosing what the solution actually does to the
problem. So, you're not left high and dry on that one.
The question complexity, as compared to the certification exam is right
at the same level. However, it is entirely possible that you can actually
encounter the same question (not just a variant) two or three times during
a single VTC test run. The pool is large, but not large enough where you
won't start seeing the same question after a dozen test runs.
I had a few questions that I was a little concerned about. In fact, over
some cappuccino, a fellow MCSE and I reviewed a bunch of questions from
the pool and found a small few of them to actually be in error. So, keep
that in mind when you use this product. If you question something that
they mention, check any references they give if you can, or research it
through TechNet. Make sure you know the right answer in any case!
|I wonder if I got this one right… (Click image to view
Here's the bottom line on this or any other test simulation software.
Although testing software is great, it's just part of the material you
need to review. If you really want to know your stuff and not be a "paper-cert,"
research the questions through and through. Answering a bunch of questions
right during the exam doesn't mean beans when it's time to put your skills
against the real test—the real world. Keep that in mind, use this
tool as a tool, and you'll do just fine, both in the test center and in
the server room.
Rick A. Butler, MCSE+I, is the Director of Information Services for the United States Hang Gliding Association.