QA Talk: Care and feeding of the MCAS test engine

October 28, 2008 at 4:03 pm | Posted in Transcender news | Leave a comment
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Editor’s note: “QA Talk” will be a semi-regular blog feature in which we address common “under the hood” questions about our practice test engine interface, the resolution to common issues, and tips for streamlining your experience.

Today Aima, our QA expert and liaison with the customer support department, fine-tunes your experience with the MCAS (Microsoft Certified Application Specialist) test engine.

So you’ve finally scored that coveted block of uninterrupted study time. You sit in front of your computer and “unwrap” a newly purchased Transcender MCAS practice test. You follow a few prompts to successfully launch the product – only to find that the documents don’t properly load on your screen, or that your practice test items aren’t grading correctly. After muttering some choice words, but before making the dreaded call* to customer service, let me try to offer a few do-it-yourself-and-feel-proud-you-fixed-it-without-spending-all-morning-on-the-phone-with-customer-service tips.

Scenario 1: General problems launching any MCAS practice test (Word, Excel, or PowerPoint 2007). If the documents don’t load properly, or the KaplanIT Learning Center will not launch the test item, you should start by verifying your installation of Microsoft Office:

  • Do you have multiple versions of Microsoft Office installed? If you open Microsoft Word and are prompted with installation steps each time, click through the prompts and select the 2007 version as your default. You can also try saving a random document in Word, and changing the Save default in Word Options to the 2007 version, Word Document (*.docx).
  • Do you have the full version of 2007 Office installed? If so, which version? Student versions of Microsoft Office 2007 may not have all the files required to support the practice test software.
  • Do you have dual monitors? If so, you must display your practice test on the designated main monitor.

Scenario 2: Your documents for the Using Microsoft Word 2007 practice test (77-601) are not displaying properly, but your Excel (77-602) and Power Point (77-603) exams launch successfully. This can happen when the version of Microsoft Word 2007 on your computer does not contain some basic personal information. It’s an easy fix.

  • Open Microsoft Word 2007 on your computer (not the Transcender test engine, or the practice test product).
  • Click the Office button  at the top left corner of the ribbon.
  • Click Word Options at the bottom of the screen. 
  • Under Personalize your copy of Microsoft Office, make sure the User name and Initials fields are not blank. If necessary, type your name & initials in those boxes and click OK.
  • Close Microsoft Word and re-launch your practice test.

Scenario 3: You receive an error in grading or saving your test question. That’s good news and bad news. The bad is you’re going to have to shut down your test session, but the good is that it’s an easy fix. The most common cause of this error is another Office application running on your machine while you’re trying to grade or save your MCAS practice test. Some Office 2007 applications use the same functions, and therefore cannot run at the same time as your MCAS practice test.

  • Check for a second Microsoft Office application running on your machine.
  • Close any sessions of Microsoft Office applications that are running.
  • Re-launch your practice test, complete an item, and grade to verify the fix.

*Quick disclaimer: Our customer service reps are highly knowledgeable, capable, and friendly. At times they know more about the ins and outs of our test engine than I do. They come into the office every day ready to take your calls and answer your questions quickly and to the best of their ability so that you can be one step closer to a successful exam attempt. So if these first-level troubleshooting tips don’t fix your problem, don’t dread making that phone call. We really do love to hear from you!

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