Transcender, a division of Kaplan IT Learning, has added performance-based simulations to its practice exams for the Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Implementation and Maintenance certification exam (70-431).
Each Transcender practice exam includes six simulations that require execution of IT tasks in a simulated work environment, designed to emulate what an IT professional experiences in the actual test. The tests, in turn, are intended to effectively evaluate real-world competency.
“On the 70-431 exam, there is a set of simulations that function just like the SQL Enterprise Manager,” said Jim McDonnell, Kaplan IT Learning chief technology officer. “So, what we’ve done in our product is, in addition to practice test multiple-choice questions, we’ve got some simulations in there, and customers can experience those as they relate to the learning objectives covered on that exam.”
There are six major learning objectives within 70-431: installing and configuring SQL Server 2005, implementing high availability and disaster recovery, supporting data consumers, maintaining databases, monitoring and troubleshooting SQL Server performance, and creating and implementing database objects.
“They’re actually pretty complex items, and our simulations have to try to approximate what people will see relative to the real exam, so we had to have simulations on those subject-matter areas, which was pretty challenging,” McDonnell said.
He also explained how the simulations function.
“They’re seen on the computer screen as a Windows application,” he said. “When [end-users] click on the simulation, what appears in front of them is the SQL Enterprise Manager as a Windows desktop. [Practice test takers] are presented with a scenario, which is a problem definition. They have to perform the task associated with that scenario, and they’re graded afterward.”
Kaplan feels simulations improve on other delivery methods because they are more hands-on, and they get more to the heart of whether the student learned to tackle a particular problem.
“The belief is that the actual nature of a performance-based item or question tends to measure true skill,” McDonnell said.