Exam Fees & Guarantees : What Are They Worth?

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Exam Fees & Guarantees... What Are They Worth To You?

It's not uncommon for training providers to proudly boast that all exam fees and guarantees are provided in the cost of their courses. But let's just think about that for a moment.

To complete some courses there may well be several exams to take, and most exam entry fees are around the £110 mark. We all know that when exam fees are inclusive, the cost of every exam has already been added into the price of the course anyway - it's not as if they're throwing them in for free. It's just that the marketing boys and girls think an inclusive cost sounds like a better deal to their clients, so use it as a sales technique to imply better value and security. However, when we look at what's really going here, we might beg to differ.

The most obvious question is why spend your money now on something that you won't be using for probably 12 - 24 months? If you're paying by cash for your training, wouldn't the money for exam fees be better left in your account for longer, accruing interest? If you're taking out a loan to pay for training, you're going to pay more interest on a larger amount than is necessary, simply because your exam fees have been included up front. Isn't it better to keep the money till you need to spend it? It certainly makes no sense to pay interest on it.

Paying for exam fees up-front helps put more money into a training provider's pot, therefore helping them with their cash-flow. In many cases, it does even more than that. Inclusive charges mean that every student is paying for their exam fees, whether they end up taking them or not. Yet for various reasons, not all students do take their exams. Some quit along the way (especially if the standard of training and support is poor) and some find IT jobs part-way through their course so don't have the urgency to take every exam. When this happens, the training provider simply pockets the un-used fees. So in reality it's the colleges who benefit from up-front payments, not the student.

But what about exam guarantees - do they have any weight? Many students are convinced by college assurances that they can take their exams as many times as is necessary to pass without incurring further charges. Guarantees make us feel better (back to the marketing boys and girls). In reality, we all know that the only way to confidently pass an exam is with good study habits and a high standard of training. There is no back door that lets you through after a number of attempts.

So the quality of the training is much more relevant to success than exam guarantees. Reading the small print on so-called exam guarantees will tell you that the college decides when you're ready to re-take the exam, so they won't let you near one till they know you're ready.

Passing exams is under your control. When you've completed the right level of training, and tested yourself under exam conditions to build confidence, you'll know when you're ready for the real thing. It's really easy to book yourself a place, and there are centres all over the UK and around the world where you can take your exams. (Students who pay at the beginning of a course often have to travel to the training provider to take exams).

You may also be able to take advantage of any offers that are around at that time. In reality, as your career progresses, you might decide not to take all of the exams as it was the knowledge that was important, not the certification.

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