QA Talk: Care and feeding of the MCAS test engine

October 28, 2008 at 4:03 pm | Posted in Kaplan IT Training 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. Continue Reading QA Talk: Care and feeding of the MCAS test engine…

“May we check your references?”

September 30, 2008 at 4:01 pm | Posted in Study hints | Leave a comment

With regards to Transcender practice test references, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” The references included for each practice test question point you to valuable information you need to know when preparing for your certification exam, but it seems like they’re a resource that is often overlooked.

When you are selecting references to include on a resume, what sort of references do you include? Probably people who will testify that you are a good potential employee, someone who will confirm your professional, technical, and personal skills… not an angry ex-spouse, parole officer, or the pizza delivery man. In the same way, the practice test references provide supporting information to back up the correct answer, and additional information on the concept behind the question.

When we begin developing a new practice test, we identify the approved references that we are going to use for that test. We choose references on three criteria: accuracy, availability, and clarity.

  • Accuracy – Approved references are usually direct from the vendor, such as online documentation or vendor courseware. In those cases when vendor-created references or textbooks are not available, as sometimes happens with new technology, we may cite a third-party book or Web site. We may even refer to blogs if they’re written by industry professionals. However, you can rest assured that we scrutinize them to ensure they are reliable reference sources (sorry, no Wikipedia).
  • Availability – We recognize that you’ve invested time and money into your Transcender practice test. We make every attempt to provide an online reference so that it’s easy for you to get to the important information, minimizing both your prep time and your costs. In cases where there’s no Web site to back it up, we may select a third-party textbook as a resource. However, we don’t expect you to go out and buy four or five books.
  • Clarity –We ensure that the reference is at the right technical depth for the practice test in question. A table of .NET expressions might have the right information, but it might not explain how to use them.

So, how can you use these references to get the most out of your study time and ensure you pass the test? Here are some guidelines you should follow as you go through the practice test in Learning Mode: Continue Reading “May we check your references?”…

The secret path to knowledge (and a better exam experience)

July 30, 2008 at 5:42 pm | Posted in Study hints | 1 Comment
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When you click the “About This Exam” button in the Transcender test engine, you get a little boilerplate popup window. I think we’ve all grown blind spots to “About this…” buttons (they just say you’re using software version 6.07.2x or that your shareware license expired 111,035 days ago, you cheapskate) so I’ll reproduce it here click-free:

To use this practice test effectively, you must read and understand the explanations for all the practice test questions. Simply answering the practice test questions and/or memorizing the questions and answers does not give you the full benefit of the product.

In other words, if you bought a Transcender practice test and you’re going through simply answering the questions, you’re having an exam experience like this:

You are the network administrator of a company that wants to destroy
the world for some unknown reason. All servers run Windows Server
2008 and all client computers use Windows Vista. You have changed the
IP address range on the DHCP server in a branch office in order to
advance your company’s evil agenda. You need to change the reverse
lookup zone on the branch DNS server role to reflect the IP address
change and enable secure dynamic updates. What should you do?
A. Install Remote Server Administration Tools on a Vista workstation
B. Some wrong answer Netsh blah blah blah
C. Some wrong answer ServerCMD blah blah
D. Some command line command blah blah
Answer: A

… which is well and good if you get a question on RSAT, but Keep reading…

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