Why Does Oracle Charge For Beta Exams?

Why Does Oracle Charge For Beta Exams?Why does the Oracle Certification Program charge for beta exams?

Doesn’t this delay the beta to live process significantly?

I recently received these very good questions and thought that it would be good to address it with a post here on the Oracle Certification Blog.

There are several important reasons that we charge for betas, with one of them being much more important than the other.

1. Delivery Costs
When someone takes a beta exam, we are charged a delivery fee. By charging for the betas we are able to cover the costs of delivery.

However - although it is important for us to cover the costs, this is not the main reason that we charge for betas.

2. Reliability of Beta Exam Results
The reason that we run betas on our exams is to gather test-related data from qualified candidates. We use beta exam results data to analyze the reliability performance of the exam questions, assemble the exams and set the scores (among other things).

Unfortunately, free betas encourage undesirable behavior in some people with exam results that greatly reduces our ability to perform our analysis. If we offered free betas exams we would see a dramatic increase in:

  • "No shows" at the testing center. We (Oracle) would we still have to pay the delivery fee.
  • Early terminations (stopping the test early)
  • Exposure of exam content. People will re-take the exam it over and over to find out what is on the test.
  • Poor results data. Free exams attract test-takers who are either significantly unprepared or unqualified.
  • False results data (from people deliberately take the exam under false pretenses in order to throw off the results).

Some of these may seem strange, but having worked in certification for a number of years, I've seen multiple real-world examples of these. The unfortunate end-result is usually an increased length in the beta period (delaying scores even more), an increase in the effort/cost to analyze results, and a decrease in the quality of the ultimate production exam.

For this reason, we plan to continue to charge a minimal fee for our beta exams.

I am very interested in any ideas that you might have in how to encourage continued participation in Oracle’s beta exams, as the better the attendance – the shorter the beta period and hence – the faster exam scores are released.

Paul Sorensen

Paul Sorensen,
Director, Oracle Certification



I'm not sure i asked this yet. Is there a way to get a comments feed RSS for all you posts? I have the post feed RSS.

Posted by Brian Tkatch on July 27, 2009 at 02:13 AM PDT #

Oh that's weird. We did and I never noticed it's disappearance. Thanks Brian, sleuthing now. Cheers, —Harold

Posted by Harold Green on July 27, 2009 at 02:22 AM PDT #

I no longer see the option for it in our control panel (maybe I dreamt it was there?) If I find it, I'll turn the option on. Cheers, —Harold

Posted by Harold Green on July 27, 2009 at 02:34 AM PDT #

Smart reasoning!! Well many candidates would hav ethis query in mind.

Posted by MCSE Training on July 27, 2009 at 06:22 PM PDT #

well I took a beta exam recently ... the price discount was an incentive and I thought it was priced right.
  • I think I'd agree about charging a nominal fee for the reasons given by Paul
  • I possibly see two other incentives that could be offered which might increase candidates without lowering candidate quality (too much)
      1. A discount voucher (maybe 50%) against a re-take for those who marginally fail the exam. This might increase the number of takers for 1z1-144 where I expect a lot of people are looking and then plumping for 1z0-147 instead
        A discount voucher against any oracle exam for 12 months for those who have passed or marginally failed and have scheduled or taken an exam and then found the beta period to be extended. A simpler method might be to offer this to those who have taken the exam prior to 2 months prior to actual beta period end date as a thankyou
        • its difficult to know how to market this ... but it might help some people choose 1z1-144 ove the (imho awful) 1z0-147
  • I think there should be a commitment to release results to beta candidates prior to release of production exam.
  • People are encouraged to comment on beta questions, I did so on a few ... then found time slipping away. That combined with a loo break ... especially after hydrating myself on a hot day ... + 1minute readjusting a chair and 1 minute tilting a crt old screen. really not impressed ... especially as I was told keep by dog with me but off!
    • So when a team sees last N-1 questions marked at A or B or something at 10s intervals and the last question where then candidate has marked the last question (correctly), say back, said Phew! and then not got it it recorded by pressing the NEXT button before exam end such results can be interpreted meaningfully ... :-) (meaningful not necessarily for the candidate but for the exam result as a whole)

Posted by bigdelboy on July 31, 2009 at 04:35 PM PDT #

Thank bigdelboy – I'm sharing this with the team now! Cheers, —Harold

Posted by Harold Green on August 03, 2009 at 04:02 AM PDT #

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

Posted by Luella Pelotte on January 04, 2010 at 05:15 PM PST #


I have two questions:

(1) At this URL - https://education.oracle.com/pls/web_prod-plq-dad/db_pages.getpage?page_id=182 - there is information published on beta exams. Why should there be beta exams with an "Open" status when the last date for some of the beta exams is already in the past ? (eg. the ones for 1Z1-564 and 1Z1-463, the beta for these already ended on 15-Dec-2012)

(2) Is 11 weeks the maximum that a candidate should expect to wait to see his score report, or does it always take a minimum of 11 weeks from beta close date to churn out the scores ? 11 weeks appears me to be too long a period to wait for scores. With all the tools and technologies at Oracle's disposal, should this period not be about a month (4-5 weeks) maximum ?


Posted by guest on December 30, 2012 at 02:23 AM PST #

1) The exams that you mention show up in 'Post Beta Review' status. There could be an issue with the pages in the country from which you are accessing the page. If you're still having difficulty seeing the correct status, let me know what country you're in so that I can contact the web masters and ensure that the web updates were rolled out world wide.

2) 11 weeks is an approximate maximum. Some exams take longer to review and release into production, based on the availability of the subject matter experts, the difficulty of the exam, the number of beta candidate comments, etc. We ensure that candidates know, before taking a beta exam, that they will have to wait up to 11 weeks from the close of the beta to get their exam scores. We also communicate very openly that the beta end date is subject to change.

The beta process is a very important part of the exam development process in order to ensure that we are releasing valid exam items. We make it through the process as quickly as we can to still deliver a quality product.

Brandye Barrington

Posted by Brandye Barrington on January 03, 2013 at 01:49 PM PST #

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