Sunday, January 25, 2015

Oracle Certification Practice Exams... Released

Oracle Certification Prep practice testsAs I announced earlier this month, Oracle Certification Prep is expanding into providing practice tests for a number of Oracle certification exams. The release date ran about ten days beyond what I had hoped to hit when I made that post. There are just too few hours in the day and the proofing and error checking for practice exams was considerably more time-consuming than projected.

That said -- they are out now and available from the 'Practice Tests' link on the Oracle Certification Prep website. For those of you that have already followed the company page on LinkedIn, a post will shortly be made from there which will provide a promotional code for $5 off the price of any practice exam. Since the exams are only $19.50 to start with, that's a hair over 25% off. If you have not yet followed the company, there will be three follow-on promotions released at two-week intervals for $4, $3, and 2$ respectively (the promotions cannot be combined). In addition, the company page is going to be the primary vehicle for announcing the release of new Oracle Certification Prep practice tests and study guides going forward.

While I really work hard to release products with zero defects, the real world seldom complies. As such, Oracle Certification Practice exams will have a similar policy to that of my study guides where I reward readers for reporting errors in the text. In fact, I have more control over the practice tests and can offer an even better deal to users than is possible with the study guides. For each verified error that a practice test user is the first to report through the Contact Page of the Oracle Certification Prep website, I will give them a $5 voucher for an exam. Users that report two or three errors will get a $10 or $15 voucher respectively and reporting four errors will net them a voucher for a free exam. I can make corrections to the practice tests much more rapidly than I can release a new study guide revision, so hopefully this program will mean that any error I miss in Oracle Certification Prep practice tests will rapidly be caught and corrected.

I have been working on this project for over a year at this point and I am very excited to finally be releasing them. I sincerely hope that the Oracle certification community finds these practice tests to be a useful addition to the resources available for earning Oracle certifications.

While currently there are only practice tests available for six certification exams, over the next several months, I plan to add to that list considerably. I am not going to give a timeline, or even a planned order, because all of my work on certification materials is done when I have time for it. My schedule is constantly in flux and priorities change unexpectedly. If you are waiting for a particular exam, check the website regularly or subscribe to Oracle Certification Prep on LinkedIn to be included in the announcements.

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.