Knowing the information on a test is different than actually being able to test well on the material. That’s the underlying business model for Transcender, a company that sells IT certification test preparation materials.

Here is an overview of what the site offers, how its products work, and how the site is set up. After you read this review, check out the site for yourself, and let us know what you think.

A little background
Transcender was formed in 1992, shortly after Microsoft introduced its certification program. Though still heavily centered on Microsoft certifications, the company has added Cisco certification materials and CompTIA’s A+, Net+, and i-Net+ test preparation materials.

The company offers test simulation software and corresponding flash-card add-ons. It sells to individuals, organizations with large IT staffs, and IT training centers.

Transcender differentiates its tests from competitors’ products by offering a guarantee and focusing on Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA certifications. It boasts that it was chosen for Best Test Simulation in the 2001 MCSETutor Gold Report Gold Awards. Results of the poll on the MCSETutor site indicate that Transcender ran away from its competition with 83 percent of the votes for the award.

Testing, testing: 1, 2, 3
The philosophy behind test simulations is that the test taker will perform better if he or she doesn’t have to learn how to take the exam while trying to answer the questions. This quote from the Transcender site describes the intent of the simulation:
“[The simulation] shows users what the testing environment, interface, time pressure, and question difficulty will be like on the real thing.”

Beyond learning how to take an exam, Transcender promotes their test simulations, called TranscenderCert, as a way to gain:

  • A greater understanding of the exam questions.
  • The knowledge required to answer the questions correctly.
  • Study references for preparing for the exam.
  • Instant feedback on exam answers.
  • A score report that documents the areas of the test taker’s strengths and weaknesses.

As an additional feature, customers can purchase TranscenderFlash, which is a flash-card program that reviews the concepts covered by the exam. The TranscenderFlash product offers:

  • Hundreds of questions.
  • Self-grading format, including the ability to add notes to each question.
  • More answer explanations.

Transcender also offers free demos of its tests for about 30 different certifications. The demos have fewer features and questions than the full versions of the simulators, but they do give visitors a good idea about what to expect from the real product.

Full versions of the programs can be purchased and downloaded from the site. The programs need a system key to be activated, and the information to get the key comes from receipt information the customer receives after making the purchase.

The test simulation programs can be ordered online and shipped if the customer prefers.

In addition to the actual product offerings, there are some other items that might be of interest to the IT pro. Transcender offers a commercial mailing list to which you can subscribe for information on new products and special deals.

Transcender also goes an extra step by offering free membership in its Transcender Club. The club has two forms of membership—guest (for site visitors) and customer (for people who have purchased products from the site). Guest members can find out about discount offers and read other certification information located in the club section of the site. Customer members can get special upgrade deals for existing test simulators and large discounts on new or different simulators.

In the Club section, there is also a column called Spike’s Hints, Tips And Tricks, which offers more certification preparation background and links.

From the look of things
The Transcender site does an excellent job of promoting its product, but more importantly, the site also works to make a connection with its visitors. It does this by offering excellent customer support, providing a wealth of product information and answers to customer questions.

The site design also plays a major role in making visitors feel welcome. The Transcender site is very easy to navigate. Each page is topped with the company logo and the slogan, reading, “Certification guaranteed.” It’s a concept that does not want its visitors to forget. The browser window beneath the ever-present logo is divided into three sections. The navigation bar to the left highlights helpful links to shopping and e-mail links, as well as Free Demos, Product Information, Organizational Sales, and Certification. The center and right-hand panels provide in-depth content and more links to products and other related information. This page setup provides a lot of depth for those customers who need it, while still not slowing down the more casual visitor.

The uniformity of each page encourages familiarity and keeps visitors from struggling to find the information that they need. Another plus is that because the pages have only a few new images, they load rapidly, making the site as speedy as it is informative.

Final thoughts
The Transcender Web site does a great job of welcoming visitors, keeping customers, and explaining its products. Other standout features include the following:

  • It offers guarantees, encouraging potential customers to trust its product.
  • It has a huge amount of information about its two basic products and how they work.
  • The site is friendly, quick, and easy to navigate.
  • The product is a step ahead of traditional cert testing, in that it goes beyond the information you need to know and into the way you test.

The one thing this site is missing is an example, even a screen shot, of what the test looks like when the simulation is running.

Now it’s your turn to review the site. Just click on the Rate this Site logo above and tell us what you think of Is it good, bad, or ugly? It only takes a minute or two to complete your rating, so visit the site and then tell us what you think.