Why can't vendors just make practice exams, just like the real thing?

2023-12-31 13:29:00

On Discord someone asked why it's so hard for vendors to "just" make practice exams that are just like the real thing? To them, it seemed like an obvious market gap! And to be honest, who wouldn't want a proper test run while prepping for Security+, LPIC1 or even CISSP?!

Now, I'm no expert, but here's what I told'm...

Most importantly it's because you absolutely have to blackbox the practice exam creation. There can never be any doubt whatsoever that you as vendor stole copyrighted materials or that you lifted questions and concepts from the official materials.

You have to have proof of your process and show that none of your personnel have ever taken the real exam. This means you have to hire a group of SMEs (subject matter experts) and have them create a testbank of 2000+ questions which cover all of the exam objectives for that one exam. But they're not allowed to look at official materials ever; possibly not even the objectives themselves.

And then you have to do that ten-or-so times, to cover all the exams. So basically at that point, you are making a brand new exam and you're competing with Linux Foundation, LPI, ISC2, CompTIA, etc.

It costs a huge amount of money.

Since we're in an IT forum I can safely point you towards this, which is strikingly comparable... Look into how Compaq reverse engineered the IBM PC BIOS, so they could make IBM PC compatible devices. Very similar.

For the exam questions, taking the Compaq analogy, it would mean that you need to have a team that creates a very precise set of requirements and design decisions. Theoretically they could look at what CompTIA and other vendors do.

Then you would need that second team of actual SMEs to write those hundreds or thousands of questions, based on the specifications written by the first team.

And then possibly, you could get exams which are very close to what CompTIA does. 

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