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Beach Front Quizzer: Surf's Up, Dude!

Okay, so the name's a little weird, but if you could, wouldn't you like to study for your exams on the beach? You could get some sun; watch the boats slide by; and learn DHCP, DNS, and Active Directory to the sounds of crashing waves and happy seagulls. Okay, never mind.

Beach Front Quizzer (BFQ) is an exam simulation product that is easy to install, easy to work with, and offers rich features to test your knowledge on an array of topics. The software begins with your choice of one of four testing modes: adaptive, study session, simulated exams, and flash cards.

The adaptive exam requires that you take the exam four times and then examine the history of how you did on each exam. It's not a true adaptive exam like Microsoft delivers, but it's a nice start.

The study session is one of the best features of BFQ because it allows you to choose the categories you need to review and then starts the quiz. As you answer each question, you'll get immediate feedback whether the question is right or wrong. You can, if you give up, have BFQ explain why your answer is wrong and then select the correct answers.

Beware, though, if you incorrectly answer a question and then choose Next, "WRONG!" appears at the bottom of the screen. At first glance, it looks like the current question you're working with is already marked as wrong, but in reality, the last question you answered is wrong. If you answer the question correctly, you don't get a "CORRECT!", you just advance onto the next query.

The simulated exam simulates the actual testing environment of a real exam. You can't choose subcategories, and there is a time limit—usually 75 minutes. You can mark your questions for later review, and you can move forward and backward through the exam at any time.

The final feature, Flashcards, allows you to see a question, think up the answer on your own, and then hit a hot key to check your response. It's a fine method for learning facts, but some of the questions are a little...well, funky. For example, in the Windows 2000 Professional Flashcards mode, it asks which of the following are valid Windows 2000 Professional hardware requirements. Well, because you're in Flashcard mode, you can't see any of the requirements to see if they're valid or not. Doh!

Overall, BFQ is a fine product—but it could be a lot better. The questions aren't nearly as tough as the ones you'll face on a Microsoft exam, but they are a good jumpstart to learning. To install BFQ, you have to download the test engine, which includes the Windows 2000 Professional exam sample (although as of this writing, its Web site says it's Networking Essentials). After you download the engine, you can buy additional exam databases, which vary in price from $49 to $99. You can find more information at the Beach Front Quizzer Web site: www.bfq.com.

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