Cranking out simulation exams and updates every time a program’s IT certifications change is no small feat. But Self Test Software has been doing it for more than 10 years. Since it began, the company has seen the importance of accreditation grow, the certification industry explode, and the technology industry sprint forward and then stutter.

Although many practice test providers have closed their doors since the tech bubble burst, stalwart Self Test Software appears to be growing even stronger. Like rival Transcender, it has expanded its product line to include more titles and refined its software programs to include additional features, such as improved diagrams and flash cards.

Save money by opting for online testing
Self Test Software upped the ante by adding an online testing option to the mix. The company offers three choices: You can download simulation test packages, purchase a CD-ROM, or sign up for online testing. Typically, the download option and CD-ROM cost the same. The online version is less expensive.

A case in point is the simulation software for CompTIA’s Network+ exam. The CD-ROM and download versions are $99, while the online testing alternative runs just $79.

Check out the online testing option. Once you’ve passed an exam, how often do you dig out your old test prep software? If you’re like me, the old CDs just take up needed storage space. Why buy sim tests, especially when you can “rent” them for 30 days and save some money in the process? If worse comes to worst, you can extend your online access for a reasonable fee (10 days at $10 or 30 days for $20 were the options for a Microsoft exam I recently sampled).

My biggest worry with important online transactions is that something will go wrong and interrupt the process. Mid-process failures can be a nightmare to fix, and some are irreparable. Self Test’s online testing feature is well designed to mitigate interruptions, though. Every time you answer a question, your session is saved. Should you lose your connection, all you have to do is log back in. You can pick up where you left off. You can also save a practice test part way through and return to complete it later.

Self Test’s sims are accurate representations
Self Test Software’s exams are offered in two formats: Learning Mode and Certification Mode. In Learning Mode, you have some flexibility in choosing whether answers appear during the test, which objectives are tested, and even the questions and question types that are presented.

Certification Mode, meanwhile, more closely mimics the real-world exam. When you choose Certification Mode, you receive approximately the same number of questions and the same time allotment as with the real-world counterpart.

The Self Test Software test engine itself isn’t flashy, but it works well. You will find a thorough score report, which breaks your performance down by objective. Exhibits and diagrams are plain and typically use little color. There’s nothing inviting or energizing about the interface. But then, the real exam’s interface isn’t particularly attractive, either. Actual certification exams are straightforward with little pizzazz, and the Self Test Software will familiarize you with this if you’ve never taken a cert test.

Of course, more important than a practice exam’s interface is its accuracy. You need not worry when you tack more charges on to your credit card for Self Test Software’s programs. The company’s been around for 10 years, which is as good as forever in this industry. It’s survived so long because it knows how to build good products that are consistently accurate, stable, and dependable.

Eckel’s take
Earning trust is difficult, but Self Test Software has been winning the trust of IT professionals since 1992, when it launched practice exams for Novell certification. Ten years later it’s still going, only with a much broader assortment of tests, including Cisco, CIW, CompTIA, Lotus, Microsoft, Novell, and Oracle certifications. And the simulations are first rate. With the new online option, the company is well positioned to continue standing tall in a shrinking field.