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Book It: New Riders ExamGear

If you purchased one of the MCSE Training Guides, you've probably used ExamGear before. In each of the MCSE Training Guides, New Riders has bundled a CD with ExamGear, its MCSE testing software.

When you fire up ExamGear, you can choose to begin learning in one of three ways: the Study Mode, Practice Exam, or Adaptive Exam.

The Study Mode allows you to study a particular chapter or multiple chapters of the associated book. Questions can be graded as you move through the session or when you've completed all of them. You can also set a time limit and a filter based on questions you've missed or answered correctly.

The Practice Exam, as you might guess, simulates the actual Microsoft exam. It's timed, and you won't get any feedback until you complete the entire exam. With the practice exam, however, you can choose the chapters that you want to focus on. ExamGear also allows you to mark questions for review, and move forward and backward through the exam.

The Adaptive Exam feature tests your knowledge on each topic. If you miss a question, you can anticipate another question on the same topic. If you continue to miss questions on the topic then you'll eventually fail—even if you're very knowledgeable about other areas of the exam. The reverse is true, too—if you answer questions correctly, you'll see fewer of the questions on that topic. The Adaptive Exam will end when you reach a certain threshold of questions that are answered correctly or incorrectly.

The ExamGear engine is straightforward, easy to work with, and uses common sense to navigate through the program. There are some nifty features included with the software, such as loading a previous exam, printing individual questions, and a breakdown of question components on some of the longer questions.

The one element lacking in ExamGear is a detailed explanation of incorrect answers when reviewing the exam. Some of the answer explanations are only a sentence long, whereas others may go into more detail. Each of the answers, however, refers the user back to the associated chapter.

Overall, ExamGear is a fine product. If you are looking for a book to aid your study efforts and you also want a testing software, ExamGear is definitely your best purchase.

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