Meta-analysis of Exam-preparation, Certification-preparation or Test-preparation Courses

My current curriculum project for work is to build a course to prepare students for a exam that leads to a professional credential.

It’s not as easy as you would think it would be. I’m finding it strange to do even simple things, like apply Bloom’s Taxonomy to the course’s performance objectives. I’ve decided to take a step back and look at the body of work that already exists for cert.credential-prep.

My approach was to start by looking at technical cert prep courses offered by the big guys (IBM, Oracle, etc).  However, there really wasn’t much out there for technical working professionals (software engineers, in particular).

My next approach was to delve a bit into the world of higher ed cert prep, and I found a lot of good information when I changed my approach.

Below, I’ve documented the key findings of my research.

(WIIFM) What students liked about various cert-prep courses

  • Ability to review materials as many times as needed
  • Knowing what exam topics to focus on
  • Knowing how deep to go on any given exam topic
  • Building confidence and feeling prepared
  • Organizing information related to exam topics
  • Understanding the difficulty level of the exam
  • Accessing the prep materials in remote geographies
  • Experiencing the mock exam in a realistic way

Examples of performance goals that cert-prep courses claimed they achieved

  • NN% of students who took the cert-prep course passed the test
  • Over NN of all successful exam takers used our class to help them pass
  • Candidates who use the exam-prep see their scores improve by an average of NN%

Examples of performance objectives of cert-prep courses

  • Prepare for the exam
  • Gain the tools and skills you need to pass the exam
  • Focus your limited time and resources
  • Focus on the information most likely to appear on the exam
  • Master the exam materials
  • Prepare with a comprehensive practice test
  • Analyze your test readiness
  • Identify areas for further study with topic-focused chapter tests
  • Identify test-taking strategies

Types of mock exams and exam assets bundled with the course

  • Multi-question practice exams
  • Pre-test evaluation
  • Per-module, topical questions
  • Realistic test-taking environment
  • Explanations of why exam question answers are right or wrong
  • Weekly pop quiz
  • Proctored exams

Instructional content formats (i.e. formats of curriculum) offered with the cert-prep course

  • Static print or multi-media content (including books and workbooks)
  • Streaming video
  • Live delivery

Exam aids offered with the cert-prep course

  • Study tips
  • Printed flash cards
  • Online flash cards
  • Audio review flashcards
  • List of key terms
  • Cheat sheets

Social services offered with the cert-prep course

  • Discussion forums
  • Comments from students who have previously taken the exam
  • Email support
  • Phone support
  • Blogs
  • “Live agent” chat

Exam-prep add-on services that were optionally offered with the cert-prep course

  • Custom study strategy
  • Online tutoring
  • On-site tutoring
  • Topic-based refresher
  • Job interview prep

Other assets offered by the cert-prep vendor

  • “Insurance” – gain access to materials until you pass
  • Detailed reports highlighting strengths and weaknesses in each content area
  • Personalized study plan with daily goals
  • Self-directed learning path (choose your adventure style)
  • Instructional e-games

Examples of cert-prep courses and some etc links (you can click these)

Let me know with a “like” or a comment if you found this post useful.

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