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The IT Certification Exam Registration Process

By  Aug 10, 2008

Topics: Certification

The overwhelming majority of IT certification providers use one or both of the following computer-based exam registrars: Prometric and/or Pearson Virtual University Enterprises (VUE). To learn which registrar(s) are supported by a particular IT certification provider, I would strongly encourage you to visit the vendors' respective Web sites.

Both Prometric and VUE play by basically the same set of registration rules, but you should keep the following tips in mind if your exam is available from both providers and you need assistance in selecting which registrar to use:

  • VUE allows their testing centers to provide candidates with honest-to-goodness paper and pens, while Prometric insists that their centers offer only laminated dry erase boards and pens. These latter items make it tough to make notes during certain exams!
  • Speaking from personal experience, I (and my test-center administrators) historically have had far better customer service experiences with VUE than we have had with Prometric. My students tend to tell me the same thing

You might have read my earlier piece in which I give you my personal opinion of Prometric vs. VUE; however, don't let my personal biases get in the way of making your own informed decision.

You will learn quickly that certification exam registration fees are not cheap. To that end, it is always preferable (though not always possible) if your boss or organization can pay the stiff exam registration fees. After all, the company certainly benefits directly from your certified status!

While the specific cost of each exam registration is provider-specific (VUE and Prometric do not set prices; they simply schedule and manage the exams themselves), here are some representative figures that are current as of this writing:

  • Cisco: $150
  • CompTIA A+: $163
  • CompTIA Network+: $232
  • EC-Council CEH: $250
  • Microsoft: $125

Tips for Obtaining Exam Discounts

You can save yourself some hard-earned dough in registering for your IT certification exams by investigating free or reduced-cost exam registration vouchers.

Vendor promotions can sometimes save you a significant amount of money. Be sure to visit the vendor Web sites for the certifications you are pursuing on a regular basis; you'll be surprised what you will occasionally find.

For instance, Microsoft offers a very popular promotion that they call "Second Shot."

The Microsoft Second Shot program allows you a free second try on any Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) exam if you fail the first time around. Please see the microsoft.com/learning Web site for additional details.

Some first-party IT certification exam preparation books contain discount coupons redeemable for IT certification exams. A good example of this is the Self-Paced Training Kit series from Microsoft Press Many of these titles include a 15 percent discount coupon at the back of the book. For a $125 exam registration, this single coupon saves you $18.75! Not too shabby.

The eBay online auction site, believe it or not, can be a good place to pick up VUE or Prometric exam vouchers for a heavily discounted price.

Incidentally, in this context a voucher is defined as a certificate (specifically, a 10-digit alphanumeric code) that is worth a certain monetary value and which may only be spent for specific reasons or on specific goods; in particular, an IT certification examination.

Here are two sample IT certification exam voucher codes (they aren't 'live,' so please don't try to register for an exam by using them):

  • CA008IGF0W
  • 10000AANGB

The voucher codes are not all that impressive in themselves, but they are worth their weight in gold when you schedule your IT certification exam with VUE or Prometric, believe me.

Some IT training centers provide their students with IT certification exam-related perquisites. For instance, the training center with which I am currently associated offers one free VUE or Prometric voucher to students who fails their exam on the first attempt. However, the voucher is extended to the student only if said student first demonstrates his or her competency by passing a computer-based practice test at a required level prior to their first attempt at taking the 'live' exam.

Related Pearson Resources: