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Test your knowledge with practice exams

Practice tests can help you prepare for and ace certification exams.

You've spent hours every day of the last month with your head bent over a 1000 page book, or perhaps seated in a less-than-comfortable classroom. By now, you know the material you've been covering inside and out and are prepared to pass your certification exam without breaking a sweat. Or are you? That's exactly the question IT professionals are attempting to answer when they fire up their first practice exam.

Practice exams are an extremely popular certification preparation tool. MeasureUp Inc, for example, reports that over 175,000 IT professionals use their exams. Self Test Software has sold more than 250,000 practice tests. Why is the demand so great? Because practice exams serve several valuable functions.

More Than Testing Your Knowledge

First, they help answer that overriding question-do you know your stuff well enough to pass the exam or is a bit more study in order? Remember, you don't just have to understand the material, you also need the ability to regurgitate it on cue. Although no practice exam can definitively answer this question, they can certainly give you a good idea of your readiness. But the benefits don't stop there. Practice exams can help you study more efficiently and effectively. You can use them to identify areas of strength and weakness, information which enables you to hone in an particular exam objectives which need further attention.

You can also learn from the exams themselves. Although memorizing the answers to particular questions does play a small role in this, that alone will never be sufficient - the questions you encounter on the real certification exam won't be the same as a practice questions. In fact, one of the dangers of memorizing questions and answers is that the real question might be similar enough to fool you into thinking the memorize answer is correct, when in fact it is not. To use a practice exam as a learning tool, you must understand why individual answers to a particular question are right or wrong. By dissecting questions in this way, you gain greater understanding of the material at hand. Then, if you receive a similar question on the certification exam, even worded in an entirely different way, you'll be able to answer it accurately.

The other big thing practice exams can do for you is to substantially enhance your comfort level at crunch time. By utilizing practice exams, you will grow intimately familiar with the exam interface. This will spare you the anxiety of fumbling around with the mechanics of answering the question and allow you to focus on the content instead.

In addition to putting you would ease with the exam interface, you will build your confidence level. A big part of test anxiety is time pressure. Most exam simulations include a timer. While even repeated practice won't eliminate the pressure created by time constraints, it'll certainly ease it. Plus, you'll gain a good idea of how quickly you need to respond to questions. Many people will find that they have more time than they need. And although sitting at the keyboard facing a series of questions may not become your favorite place, it will become at least become familiar place.