Lessons Learned from 1 Million Exam Practice Questions Answered

We’ve just hit a big milestone at Skillset, which comes with a lot of reflection, advancement and realizations about the “new normal” the site has entered in 2015. It’s all very exciting and insightful, so we wanted to share our experiences publicly and transparently.

First, the milestone: As of this week, Skillset.com users have answered more than 1,000,000 questions!

That’s one million. With an ‘M’. That means that our (very dedicated) users and visitors have clicked “submit” while answering one of our thousands of certification practice questions many thousands of times per day over the last few months.

Of course, after one million sample questions answered, we’ve learned quite a bit.


How did we get to one million questions answered?


The short answer to this question is that we have more than 100,000 sample questions available, so this milestone was almost inevitable. What we didn’t expect was how quickly our users would get there.

Skillset.com users are now answering more than 10,000 questions per day. Only a few months after we launched the site in earnest, that is a truly surprising number.

The reason, however, is fairly simple: Anyone preparing to take a professional certification exam knows they need to practice. And they can (and do) practice endlessly on Skillset, while rarely seeing the same question twice.



Who is taking all of these practice tests?


This is where things get interesting. Although we currently have hundreds of individual skills that you can test yourself on, we have also grouped them in to four main certification practice tests: The PMP, CEH, CISSP and CHFI certification exams.

These are primarily IT certification exams, with the exception of the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, which encompasses a much wider range of skills and interested testers than just IT professionals.

For that reason, and confirmed by our market research, we know that the PMP certification is the most popular certification currently available on Skillset.com, but it’s not the area in which the most practice questions are answered. We actually see more than double the interest in the Certified Information Security Professional (CISSP) and Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certifications.


What are the most popular certifications?


We already mentioned the PMP exam is an extremely popular certification. But based on our traffic, it’s third overall in interest level for Skillset.

Here is the breakdown of our overall traffic numbers by certification interest:

So, looking strictly at the certifications our visitors gravitate toward, we see the highest interest around information security certifications. And those users are indeed doing the majority of answering our questions right now.

All that really means is that we’ve done a better job promoting Skillset among the IT professional class, and the information security industry in particular, than we have with project managers. That’s something we’re looking to fix in the near-term.


What is the biggest lesson we’ve learned from one million questions answered?


Put simply: Practice makes perfect.

Or perhaps more accurately: Our users know that practice makes perfect. The one constant lesson everyone seems to learn from taking certification exams is that you must practice thoroughly if you want to pass the test without too much trouble.

Some people learn this by taking the test itself multiple times until they pass. But that strategy can be expensive and tedious, of course. So the majority of people search extensively for every practice test and sample question they can find, making sure they have practiced taking the certification exam many times over before they sit down for the real thing.

But it’s also about more than sample questions. For many people, the biggest obstacle to passing any certification exam is the pressure—the time limit on the test, the lack of awareness or where your skill gaps lie, and the general uncertainty about what the experience of actually taking the test will be like.

That’s why we’ve designed every practice test on Skillset.com to be similar to the actual certification exam: We have timers, progress trackers, and test customizations that allow users to design custom practice tests that challenge them on the areas in which they need to study the most.

So the biggest lesson we’ve learned so far is that our mission, the entire reason we made the site, is doing its job: We’re helping people get better faster, and they’re taking advantage of that fact. Thousands of times a day.

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