Saturday, January 3, 2015

Oracle Certification Practice Exams... Re-Invented

One of the most common questions that I see asked on various forums about Oracle certification exams is where to find practice questions. Likewise, one of the most common complaints about my Oracle Certification prep study guides is that they do not contain any. In fact, I created a post in this blog a few months back on that topic: End-of-Chapter Questions and Oracle Certification Preparation. As indicated at that time, the guides will never contain practice questions because I do not think this would add sufficient value to be worth the additional effort on my part and additional expense that I would have to pass on to readers.

That said... in early January I will be making practice tests for several certification exams available via my Oracle Certification prep website. The exams will not be free, but they will be offered at a price that is a fraction of anything else available on the market today. Just to be perfectly clear -- I have not gone over to the dark side. These tests are not and will never be brain dumps. As each exam is completed, I have been submitting them to the Oracle Certification team with an offer to change any questions that they feel are too close to production ones. While the material will not be the actual test questions and answers, the fact that I have seventeen years of experience taking these exams means that mine will be very similar to what certification candidates will experience on the real exam.

My overriding goal for the Oracle Certification Prep practice exams is to create an environment for candidates that is as close to the real one as possible without cheating. The practice tests will have the same question count, time limit, and passing percentage as the exams from the Oracle Certification team. If questions are not completed before time runs out, the test ends and uncompleted questions will be scored as incorrect... just like the real exam. In short, if I have done my job correctly in creating these practice tests, people who fail them are very likely to fail the real exam.

The model I am offering these practice tests under is on a per-usage basis.  A fee of $19.50, will allow any of the practice exams to be taken one time. The intent is that candidates prepare for the exam in question using other study materials. Once a candidate thinks they are ready for the real exam, they can take the equivalent Oracle Certification Prep practice exam to verify this without paying a couple hundred dollars. If the practice exam results demonstrate someone is not ready, they are out a lot less money than would have been the case otherwise. In addition, the practice test will help to highlight any weaknesses and make passing the real exam more likely once these have been corrected.

My target release date for the exams is the second week of January.  I have a fair amount of final tweaking and testing to do between now and then, so I won't guarantee a specific date.  However, I will certainly release the exams at some point in the next couple of weeks.  The initial list of Oracle certification exams that will have practice tests available is:

1Z0-047: Oracle Database SQL Expert (with 12c topics)
1Z0-051: Oracle Database 11g: SQL Fundamentals I
1Z0-060: Upgrade to Oracle Database 12c
1Z0-061: Oracle Database 12c: SQL Fundamentals
1Z0-144: Oracle Database 11g: Program with PL/SQL
1Z0-146: Oracle Database 11g: Advanced PL/SQL

I recently created a page for Oracle Certification Prep on LinkedIn. This venue will be used in the future to make announcements when I release new practice tests or study guides. In addition, when I make the initial release of the exams, the LinkedIn announcement will include a coupon code for a $5 discount on any exams (i.e. you would pay $14.95 for a single exam after the discount). Anyone who follows my company page on LinkedIn between now and the time I make the announcement will be able to make use of the coupon. For people who miss the initial announcement, I plan to make three follow-on promotions at two-week intervals -- each for $4, $3, and 2$ (and no -- the promotions cannot be combined). Once these are over, I do not expect discounts to be a common occurrence -- the normal price is a bargain already.

I sincerely hope that the Oracle community will find the new practice tests useful in preparing for Oracle certification exams.