Kaplan Acquires, Creating Test-Prep Powerhouse

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Kaplan Professional, an educational services provider whose businesses include Self Test Software, has acquired Transcender, the No. 1 provider of IT practice exams designed to help IT professionals gear up for their certification exams.  




Chip Schuneman, president of Self Test Software, said that Kaplan is still determining how to incorporate the Transcender offerings into its existing test-prep offerings. “Obviously, we did not make the acquisition without the clients in mind, and looking for opportunities to improve solutions and choice for them,” Schuneman said. He added, “We did this fairly rapidly, so we’re going through the process right now of determining what’s best for customers.”




Transcender, based in Nashville, Tenn., and a subsidiary of Information Holdings Inc., will be part of Kaplan Professional’s IT test-prep and training businesses. One of those businesses, Self Test Software, is the No. 2 provider of IT exam simulation software for IT certifications. Through the acquisition of Transcender, Kaplan Professional has created the largest IT test-prep business in the industry.




Quinn Sutton, vice president of strategy and business development at TestOut, a competing practice test vendor, said that the acquisition is representative of an overall trend of consolidation throughout the IT training industry. “I’ve been tracking non-IT companies getting into IT education,” he said. “One trend is obviously the whole edutainment sector coming in. …I see a lot of convergence of multimedia, a lot of convergence of online e-learning coming into this space. So, Kaplan being a provider of more traditional prep tests, for the LSAT and others, it makes sense to me, and it is indicative of an overall trend in the industry in general.”




David Clemons, president of LearnKey Inc., a competing certification test-prep vendor, said that, considering what Information Holdings paid to acquire Transcender several years ago, he was surprised by the valuation. “Transcender is a well-known brand that has had a significant impact on our industry,” Clemons said. “Kaplan obviously recognized a real bargain. It will be interesting to see if the new owner can maintain the level of innovation and market leadership that Transcender has displayed.”




CertMag was unable to reach representatives from Transcender and MeasureUp for comment.




Combined, Transcender and Self Test software help approximately 250,000 IT professionals a year for their IT certification exams, offering practice tests and other test-prep products covering leading IT certification vendors like Microsoft, Novell, Cisco, Oracle, Lotus, CompTIA, which provides the popular A+, Network+ and Security+ certifications, and ProsoftTraining, which provides Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW) certification.




Self Test Software, in Atlanta, Ga., developed the first IT test-prep products with its introduction of the Big Red Self Test for the Novell NetWare certification. The Big Red Self Test was first made available in 1992. Self Test now offers more than 140 vendor-authorized certification practice tests with a database of over 55,000 questions. In addition, Microsoft Corp. recognizes Self Test Software as a Microsoft Certified Practice Test Provider (PTP), making its test-prep products subject to quality reviews by Microsoft. Self Test provides study guides and exam review sessions, in addition to its practice test offerings.




Transcender was founded in 1992 and currently offers around 65 practice tests covering the most popular IT certifications. Transcender provides exam simulations (TranscencerCert), quiz software (TranscenderFlash) and training videos (TransTrainer). All three product lines are available on CD-ROM or for download from the company’s Web site at www.transcender.com.




For now, Self Test Software and Transcender are both moving forward, said Schuneman, with both companies developing and releasing new products. “Those are the sorts of commitments we have to our customers and the marketplace—to continue to provide first-class practice tests to the marketplace,” Schuneman said.



Emily Hollis is associate editor for Certification Magazine. She can be reached at ehollis@certmag.com. 

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