Free Certification Practice Tests and Study Guides
Join Us! | Login | Help

Get Certified For Less

If you are just getting into the certification game, one of the first things that you will notice is that it is expensive. Between the exam fees, training materials, home lab, classes, etc. the cost can really add up and even be prohibitive for some people. In this article we are going to show you some really good deals that will help you save on the cost of certification. Some of these deals are only available for our members.

Exam Fees:
You get to decide what you will need to train yourself for the exams, but everybody pays the exam fees. In fact they tend to increase every year and CompTIA just announced that they are increasing their exam fees again. The good news is that there are sites that sell exam vouchers that can be used at Prometric or VUE testing centers. One such company that I am aware of is which offers discounted test vouchers for Microsoft, MOUS, CompTIA, Cisco, Oracle, CheckPoint and CIW certifications. The amount of the discount varies depending on the certification you will be taking.

Is it legal? How do they do it? Yes, it is perfectly legal. VUE and Prometric offer volume sales discounts on test vouchers for various institutions that use them. takes advantage of this and then passes the savings on to you. In a controversial move, CompTIA decided to no longer allow for web sites to sell discount vouchers.

Nearly everybody that works on a certification gets at least 1 book to study and they can really add up if you are pursuing a certification that consists of multiple tests such as the MCSE. If you were to pay $50 per book for 7 exams, you would spend $350 on books and that is if you only bought 1 per exam.

One option is to buy them used. If you visit our Training Directory, locate the book you are interested in and click on it, you will see options to buy that book new or used at a fraction of the price.

Another option is to check out books at your local library.

Practice Tests:
Most people purchase practice tests of some sort whether they be online or on CD. Most books come with a CD that will contain some practice test questions, but these are usually demo versions of a product.

You may want to check out Measure Up. This company has been around for a very long time and they are an official Microsoft partner. Most practice exams are $70 to well over $100. MeasureUp's exams run in the $60-$80 range and our visitors get a 15% discount at checkout when using the following discount code at checkout (MCMCSE2003). Training Schools:
Training methods and technologies have progressed over the years to the point that attending a training school may one day be obselete. Training schools and bootcamps are very expensive and can run from $2,000 to over $10,000. There are now some training products/services that are available that may serve as an excellent substitute at a much more affordable price. Both of the following offer instructor-led training on CDROM. Just think, a class that you can rewind.
  • CBTNuggets - OK, you've probably seen us promoting this product all over the site, but it really is well worth it. The Nuggets are quality instructor led training videos on CDROM that teach you the information you need not only to get certified but to perform the job. The price of these varies depending on the certification, but as an example, you can get the Windows 2000 package for $349. I am unable to think of too many reasons why someone would want to pay several thousand dollars out of their own pocket for a bootcamp. Check out our reviews of the CBT Nuggets.
  • Career Academy - These products are similar to the CBT Nuggets offering quality instructor led videos for a fraction of the cost of schools and bootcamps. These products are quite a bit more expensive than the CBT Nuggets but for good reason. For example, the MCSA kit costs $1,195 but it is a complete kit that comes with 5 books, 5 practice exams, hands-on lab simulations, live education support and a training/career advisor that you can consult with. These kits pretty much include everything you need for a reasonable price. Check out our review of Career Academy.
  • Virtual Training Company - This option is a little different. VTC offers online training videos on a subscription basis ($25/month). This is a nice option because you only have to pay for the service as long as you need it. If, for example, you are preparing for your A+ certification, you can subscribe for just 1 month and only spend $25 to get the training that you need. They do also offer their courses on CDROM for a reasonable price.
Home Lab:
Most find that a home lab is very important for cementing the topics that they have learned and for being able to take advantage of labs that are included in many training products. Obviously, computer equipment is not cheap, but there are a number of ways that you can save money on your lab.

It is probably a good idea to get at least one decent computer as you will probably be using it for other things. There are several ways to save money on new or newer computers. You can build it yourself which is a skill that you should have if you don't already. This can be done less expensively by getting the components or even the whole computer online at sites such as, E-bay, and many other sites like these.

Another option is checking out corporate reallocation departments. Most major corporations have departments that get rid of all of their older computer equipment and you may be able to get your hands on computers, routers and other nice additions to your lab. The term older is relative as you should be able to get a decent computer on the cheap if you do your homework.

In order to cut down on the number of computers that you need to buy, you can also multi-boot them or look into a product called VMWare Workstation. VMWare allows you to install multiple operating systems on one computer and actually use them all at the same time in a networked environment.

Then there are the operating systems. "Where do I get this expensive software?", you ask. You can obtain free 120 day evaluation copies of almost all of Microsoft's products. You can either get them from Microsoft, or they often will be bundled with the text book that you buy. Take a look around Microsoft's site or contact them for details.

Good luck in your studies and we hope that you find this information worthwhile.