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Five apps to prep for Microsoft certification exams

If you're looking for a good way to get ready for your next Microsoft certification exam, these tools may give you the edge you need.

Anyone who has taken a Microsoft certification exam recently has probably noticed that the exams are becoming more difficult than they used to be. So having good exam prep software may make the difference between passing or failing an exam. Unfortunately, much of the exam prep software that is available on the Internet is less than reputable. That being the case, I wanted to share with you five quality exam prep applications.

Note: This list is also available as a photo gallery.

1: Transcender

Transcender is pretty much the granddaddy of practice exam software. In fact, I can recall using a Transcender practice test to prepare for an Exchange Server exam back in the 1990s. Today, Transcender's quality is every bit as good as it was back then.

The software (Figure A) offers two main modes of operation. You can choose an optimized exam experience, which allows you to take the practice exam in the way that you deem to be most helpful. Or you can choose from several preset exam experiences that are designed to mimic the actual certification exam. In addition, Transcender provides hundreds of flash cards that can help you to prepare for the exam.

Figure A

Transcender

2: TrainSignal

Unlike the other vendors we're looking at here, TrainSignal (Figure B) does not produce practice exam software. Instead, it offers video-based training products that cover roughly the same material as an official Microsoft training class.

Figure B

TrainSignal

TrainSignal takes a cookie cutter approach to its training classes, and the ridged adherence to its video template can quickly become annoying. Even so, there is no denying that the videos themselves are well done and full of useful information. I have turned to TrainSignal on many occasions for my own training needs.

3: uCertify

uCertify (Figure C) practice exams seem to have all the bases covered. But what's most impressive about the uCertify practice tests is the sheer number of questions. Whereas a typical Microsoft certification exam usually has about 60 questions, one of the uCertify exams I looked at contained 362 practice questions. The software also includes a chapter-by-chapter study guide and a comprehensive explanation of all the exam answers.

Figure C

uCertify

4: Pass-Guaranteed

Pass-Guaranteed (Figure D) allows for a high degree of customization. You can configure the practice exam time limit and you can pick which practice questions you want to answer.

Figure D

Pass-Guaranteed

My favorite feature is the ability to randomize the answer choices for multiple-choice questions. This forces you to actually think about the answer rather than automatically choosing B after you have seen the question a couple of times.

5: SelfTest

The exact offerings in the SelfTest app vary depending on the exam that you are studying for, but the practice test for the 70-642 exam includes 184 test questions -- roughly triple the number of questions given on the actual exam. That practice test also includes 281 flash cards.

SelfTest features a learning mode, which provides detailed explanations of the correct answers (Figure E). There is also a certification mode, which simulates the actual certification exam. Certification mode does not provide any answers until the exam is complete.

Figure E

SelfTest

Other good choices?

What prep software do you use to get ready for Microsoft certification exams? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.

About

Brien Posey is a seven-time Microsoft MVP. He has written thousands of articles and written or contributed to dozens of books on a variety of IT subjects.

13 comments
Tannerdog
Tannerdog

UCertify is the ONLY one of these that has any MS 70-414 exam testing.  I haven't tried it yet.

Neither Self-test and pass-guarenteed carry microsoft testing any longer.  I wonder if they got their hands slapped or didn't want to go to the effort of NOT being a brain dump.


Trainsignal is now owned by Plural sight.  I do like the training I have used so far with them.

chip.l
chip.l

Avoid PassCertification.com's exam prep products.  The first 8 questions for exam 70-463 had 2 erroneous answers - only 75% correct answers.  If I didn't know enough about the technology I might not have recognized the problem until exam day.  When I asked for a refund they said not unless I took the exam and failed it.  I purchased the uCertify.com product for the same exam and am very happy with it.  It was more expensive, but well worth the extra money.

ethantaylor
ethantaylor

Pass-Guaranteed.com is a illegal braindumps website too.

RIreland1966
RIreland1966

I use TestOut because it has videos that helps me when I am looking at each section of the certification that I am studying for. I believe that TestOut is right up there with Transcender.

ozchorlton
ozchorlton

Junk Mail Kings I've been trying to get rid, of their junk mail, for the past 6 months :-( Just be aware of this.

arvinsloane
arvinsloane

I used MeasureUp Practice Exams. They have a good number of practice questions. Each answer is explained in detail with references to Microsoft documents that give thorough understanding of the concepts. On another note, most of the books that are available from Microsoft and third parties are completely useless. The concepts are only superficially discussed and the questions are far easier than anything on the exams.

tech
tech

I have had great experience with CBTnuggets.com. A lot of study materials just copy test questions and if you really want to learn the material then you have to reverse engineer the test questions in a lab environment. CBTnuggets actually walks through many steps and shows videos and caveats, etc. I think it's most beneficial with Cisco materials, but have seen the Microsoft ones and believe they were the best for me (your mileage may vary). I am one that prefers to actually learn the material and not memorize to pass a test since it will be revealed when you actually have to "perform" critical operations. I have my MCSE, MCTS, CCNA routing and Security, several Comptia, and more, but I have spent a lot of money on lab hardware and materials also. I stopped short of MCITP because it seems backwards that "professional" is put above "specialist" (a Pro is someone that gets paid to do a job where I see a specialist is more advanced than a Pro - haha). No, I actually stopped short because of the cost - certs are definitely a Money racket and expensive and I had to pay for mine so I'm bitter on Micro$oft. I've spent about 15k so far in 4 yrs. Aside from that - I highly recommend getting a Technet subscription and setup some virtual servers to get started - that is immensely beneficial!

Matthew G. Davidson
Matthew G. Davidson

Does anyone have any suggestions on Android Apps to study for Microsoft Certification Exams? I have used PrepLogic in the past and love their Lecture Series. I used to travel for work everyday and listening to these lectures in the car really helped me retain the information and pass my exams. The QuizMe Series from PrepLogic was very good as well. A quick Goolge search just let me know that PrepLogic is now LearnSmart Systems.

thisisahmed
thisisahmed

Does anybody know if there is an application (Offline or online) for the preparation of RHCSA?

n.gurr
n.gurr

I am looking to take one of these (I am not sure which probably 70-686) however, from what I can tell there is not any decent written material. The Windows Press book for 70-686 is terribly reviewed even before the test changed recently and now seems to be obsolete, as does the only other book that I can find by Gibson. I was wondering what anyone who passed recently used and whether they found it any good or had any tips. For the 70-680 I used the Don Poulton book and the Exam Cram: http://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/don-poulton/mcts-70-680-cert-guide/_/R-400000000000000310732 http://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/patrick-regan/mcts-70-680-exam-cram/_/R-400000000000000361275 I feel that as MS had changed the exam I almost failed passing with 700, the books were significantly reduced in value due to this - the exam cram is the more readable of the two - although I used the cram as the test prep - perhaps the other would have been better? I did use a brain dump as a resource but thank god only as a practice test as it was generally incorrect. I would never rely upon Dumps them and certainly you need to learn the material - what is the point of being a duck that doesn't quack! I would defiantly recommend the Professor Messer material for this as an easy-to-digest free resource, his material is excellent. http://www.professormesser.com/ Thanks and I hope the information is of some use to some of you. Nick Edit. Added link to Professor Messer.

eibaz
eibaz

Looking for a tool, I used Testinside as a tool. And I know about a Web with a lot of exams named pass4sure.com

eliberman
eliberman

Testinside and pass4sure are not legitimate tools. They are brain dumps which copy the real questions from the real exams. Microsoft recently won a $13.5 million judgment against testinside and took over ownership of the domain name www.testinside.com.