Finding the Balance – Price vs Pass Rate
When planning to undertake any certification exam, whether IT related (such as Microsoft, VMWare or Cisco) or skills related (such as PRINCE2 or ITIL), there are a number of factors that need to be kept in mind.

These factors would generally include the following: 1) What is my goal? What do I hope to get out of becoming certified? 2) What exact requirements are there? 3) What time frame do I have in mind? 4) How much preparation do I think I will need? 5) What is this going to cost, both in money and time? 6) Would I need assistance or support from any other people?

Helping Team

Some of the questions are easier to answer than others. For example, if you are looking to become PRINCE2 certified, a simple amount of research will tell you that you need to pass two exams, the PRINCE2 Foundation and then the PRINCE2 Practitioner. Something like Microsoft technical training starts to get a bit more complicated. Depending on the certification you want, you might need to do both core and elective exams.

How do you then make choices about the electives? What would govern your decision making there? And finally, you get some certifications that are not just exam based. You might have to display competency in a live situation, or in the case of certain Oracle certifications, you have to have attended at least one course through Oracle University, as well as passing the exams.

But once you have established what is needed, it then comes down to how you are going to prepare, and often, the cost factor is going to become significant.

However, finding the balance between cost and the other factors is crucial, and financial cost should not become the only factor. Let me give an example, again, with PRINCE2. If cost is the only criteria, people do look for any specials running, and this often will result in them finding last minute availability. It might be a fantastic way to find a cheaper course, but this might not be helping you pass the exam.

PRINCE2 courses usually have pre-course readings to do. Getting a last minute deal might mean that you got a low price, but it does not really leave you a decent amount of time to go through the pre-course material. As the exams are done as part of the course, and not at a random date later, this will affect the chances of you passing. Was that cheaper deal really that helpful if you then have to think about redoing things?

Cheaper courses also usually mean bigger class sizes. Attending a course that has 20+ delegates will mean a lower pass rate for all than on a course capped at 12 delegates. This mirrors how class sizes in schools affect the results obtained by the students. Smaller class sizes always equal better quality and results.

So, when planning to undertake a certification programme, why not speak to somebody that can give you the best feedback on what needs to be done, and what the best possible options are regarding passing in the planned time frame that you have. Activia’s advice on this is free. You can then decide how to best balance your own requirements.