When you teach a computer class, how does it end? Do you give your students a test to make sure they’ve retained everything you taught them? Maybe you give them a Certificate of Completion and assume they’ll retain what they’ve learned.

Now your students can test their knowledge and get e-certification by taking the online tests at Tekmetrics . Its motto is, “If you know it, we’ll help you show it.” The site offers free e-certifications in various IT specialties, including programming languages and applications, Internet security, and networking. When you pass one of the online certification tests, you’ll receive a certificate suitable for framing, and you have the option of making your online profile—complete with your test results—available to potential employers in the Tekmetrics database.

What’s it worth?
Although the language on the site suggests that you “purchase” tests, the Tekmetrics e-certifications are free and expire one year from the time you pass the test. The tests I’ve taken so far have been demanding and well written. The e-certifications are great for increasing your sense of accomplishment and self-worth, and they may deserve a place on your resume.

Some of you who’ve spent lots of money and long hours in classrooms getting your certifications may scoff at the notion of getting a free certification by taking an online test. Your biggest objection may be that it would be easy to cheat on an online test—after all, the system doesn’t know who’s pushing the buttons. Your best friend could pass a test under your name.

However, the Tekmetrics folks do the only thing they can do in this regard—they display a warning screen before you take a test that says, in essence, “You’re on your honor not to cheat by letting someone else answer for you.” I like to think most people wouldn’t cheat. But if anyone is stupid enough to cheat and put an unearned e-certification on a resume, that faux skill set will be exposed eventually anyway.

How’s it work?
When you visit Tekmetrics the first time, you can take sample tests to get a feel for the format. To take the e-certification tests, you have to register and keep track of the code the system assigns to you. You also can decide whether you want to make your profile of test results available on the site for potential employers to see. Although the language on the site suggests you’re purchasing tests, there’s actually an ongoing “free trial” period for people who want to take the tests.

I decided to try out the service by taking the Keyboard Typist and Written English tests. The typing test took about 15 minutes and consisted of typing a series of 10 randomly selected passages. (I was certified as a Keyboard Typist with an adjusted speed of 101 words per minute.)

The Written English test was no cakewalk. In the first part, there were 36 “Where’s the error?” style questions, and you only had a minute to answer each multiple-choice question. The second part of the test included 14 reading comprehension questions. You had three minutes to read a selection and choose one of the four or five possible answers. (I passed this test at the “Master” level—as a native speaker and a full-time writer, I would have been disappointed with anything less.)
TekMetrics is an independent certification authority. The company develops its examinations with the assistance of hundreds of well-credentialed experts. Its mission is to help you demonstrate your knowledge of each tool, software package, or technology without regard to sales or marketing strategies. If you try out the certification tests at Tekmetrics , please send me a note and let me know what you think of the experience.