Training and Certification

Rubel Khan's Blog

WHY DOES ORACLE CHARGE FOR BETA EXAMS?

Posted by Rubel Khan on August 18, 2009

Why does the Oracle Certification Program charge for beta exams?
Doesn’t this delay the beta to live process significantly?

I recently received these very good questions and thought that it would be good to share some helpful information on beta exams and what affects their pricing. There are several important reasons that we charge for betas, with one of them being much more important than the other.

1. DELIVERY COSTS
When someone takes a beta exam, we are charged a delivery fee. By charging for the betas we are able to cover the costs of delivery.
However – although it is important for us to cover the costs, this is not the main reason that we charge for betas.

2. RELIABILITY OF BETA EXAM RESULTS
The reason that we run betas on our exams is to gather test-related data from qualified candidates. We use beta exam results data to
analyze the reliability performance of the exam questions, assemble the exams and set the scores (among other things).

Unfortunately, free betas encourage undesirable behavior in some people with exam results that greatly reduce our ability to perform the necessary analysis. If we offered free beta exams we would see a dramatic increase in:

  • “No shows” at the testing center. We (Oracle) would still have to pay the delivery fee.
  • Early terminations (stopping the test early)
  • Exposure of exam content. People will re-take the exam over and over to find out what is on the test.
  • Poor results data. Free exams often attract test-takers who are either significantly unprepared or unqualified.
  • False results data (people deliberately take the exam under false pretenses in order to throw off the results).

Some of these may seem strange, but having worked in certification for a number of years, I’ve seen multiple real-world examples of these. The unfortunate end-result is usually an increased length in the beta period (delaying scores even more), an increase in the effort/cost to analyze results, and a decrease in the quality of the ultimate production exam.

For this reason, we plan to continue to charge a minimal fee for our beta exam.

I am very interested in any ideas that you might have on how to encourage continued participation in Oracle’s beta exams. The better the beta exam attendance, the shorter the beta period, and hence – the faster exam scores are released.

Paul Sorensen | Director, Oracle Certification

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