How to Play the Exam Game

February 6, 2009 at 10:45 am | Posted in Vendor news | 2 Comments
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We all face challenges in life, and taking a certification test is no different. Just like the ball player that takes the field, you must know what is allowed and what is forbidden in your field of battle: the testing room. Walking into a test center without knowing the rules is like coming onto the basketball court without a jersey and knowing how to score. Your court skills may never come into play if you don’t know when and how to use them.

[Editrix’ note: George, I call a five-yard penalty for excessive use of sports metaphors. Carry on.]

Just like the athletes who train, sweat and push their bodies to the limits before the big game, you must undertake some pre-game preparations:

  • Contact the test center and make sure they can deliver the exam. Sounds obvious, but when an exam is released with new technologies, like simulations or other specialty items, your chosen test center may not be up to par. Vendors will release new technologies but do not confirm that every center can support them. As the test taker, you should always do this homework. It is extremely frustrating to take time off of work, drive all the way to the test center, and find out that the test would not load on the test center’s computers. When that happened to me, my whole day was shot and I had to go through the ordeal the next week.
  • Notify the test center of any learning disabilities. Test centers are required to accommodate you. This could include adjusting the screen size or even increasing the time limit.
  • Find out what amenities the test center offers. Some test centers can provide ear plugs or ear phones to block out noise. You do not want to hear the asthmatic breathing of the person next to you or the constant two-pack a day cough from the guy that tried to bum cigarettes from you in the lobby. Find out if the test center provides lockers or other secure storage for your valuables (most do). Other centers may provide coffee or provide vending machines. All of these things will affect your testing experience.
  • Leave non-essential stuff at home. All you can have in the exam room is your picture ID, a 8.5” x 14” whiteboard, a marker, and if you are lucky, an eraser. You cannot bring in a cell phone, digital watch, bull horn, AM transistor radio, Batman decoder ring, or electronics of any kind. You cannot bring in food, drinks, or even your ID badge from work. (The strict but very nice proctors in my local test center do allow me to keep my Soviet-made wind up watch that loses 6 minutes a day and requires constant readjusting.)

Michael Jordan knows how to play basketball and David Beckham knows how to score a goal. You, too, need to know how to play the game. These rules might seem obvious to some, but they are all questions I’ve heard in my years as a trainer from nervous first-time test takers, or mistakes that I’ve seen made over and over. Continue Reading How to Play the Exam Game…

New Cisco exam free retake policies: “ComeBack2009” and “Specialize”

February 5, 2009 at 10:08 am | Posted in Cisco | 28 Comments
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Once again Cisco and its authorized test provider, Pearson VUE, are offering free exam retakes between January 20 and July 20, 2009. Cisco has also rolled out a new program, called “Specialize,” promoting the new CCNA specialty certifications.

Both programs offer free exam retakes. However, you MUST fall into one of these two categories to take advantage of the offers:

  • You earned a Cisco certification that has since lapsed and are trying to re-certify, and you fail the applicable test, OR
  • You have a current Cisco CCNA certification and are trying to gain a Voice, Security, or Wireless specialty certification, and you fail the applicable test.

(I’ll grab the rest from the Pearson VUE site.)

The ComeBack2009 promotion is for anyone who has achieved a Cisco certification in the past, but for whatever reason has let their certification credential lapse. If you take a full-priced exam now and don’t pass it, you can get a second chance in the form of a free retake. This gives those with lapsed certifications a jump start toward earning back their credential. Candidates must complete all exams needed for a certification in order to gain back their certification. Further details can be found at

The Specialize promotion encourages those who currently have a Cisco CCNA certification to “specialize” in a Cisco CCNA concentration. Individuals who take a full-priced CCNA concentration exam, and fail the exam, will be given one free retake exam should they need it. This offer is only valid for 640-460-IIUC CCNA Voice, 640-553 IINS CCNA Security, and 640-721 IUWNE CCNA Wireless exams. Further details can be found at

ETA 4/17/2009: And we’ve just rolled out one of our most exciting products in years. In response to the huge volume of customer requests in recent years, we are now offering the Kaplan IT CCNA Simulator, a combination of network lab and exam-oriented scenarios that lets you virtually configure a network of common Cisco machines.

Click the screenshot for more information!

Cisco “Come Back” exam retake offer runs until October 15, 2008

August 28, 2008 at 8:28 am | Posted in Cisco | Leave a comment
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You didn’t see it here first (hey, we didn’t have the blog when this went public), but maybe you haven’t seen it anywhere else: Cisco is offering a FREE exam retake for tests scheduled between April 15, 2008 and October 15, 2008.

This offer applies to full-price exams only, and you must enter the promotion code COMEBACK when registering for the initial exam. Go to the Pearson VUE website for the full details and the registration form.

Pearson VUE vouchers for Microsoft exams are exiting the building on July 31, 2008

July 16, 2008 at 7:40 pm | Posted in Vendor news | Leave a comment
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As per the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) Flash newsletter: if you have a Microsoft exam voucher from Pearson VUE, you need to get a replacement voucher from Prometric. This exchange offer is only good until July 31, 2008, after which neither voucher nor replacement offer will be valid.

Here’s the Microsoft web site explaining their decision to go with Prometric as its sole exam administrator, and the link to perform a voucher transfer:

Here’s a link to the Pearson VUE website.

Here’s a link to the Prometric website.

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