SeaSources.net started all the way back in 1996 to help provide an alternative to the extremely expensive costs related to exam preparation for United States Coast Guard licensing examinations.
Their focus is on providing access to the huge bank of questions provided by the U.S. Coast Guard on which all the exams are based.
Students and trainers concur that apart from knowing your study material, studying these questions are extremely important. The reason is that the exam questions are often structured in a way to catch you out on the most minute detail. Without practice beforehand students are likely to miss these nuances and fail the exam. Some sections require as little as getting 3 questions wrong before you fail completely!
We took SeaSources.net for a test drive and we documented our assessment here to help you decide if SeaSources.net is the best solution for you.
SeaSources Review: At a glance
Price: $30 to $160 (Save with Discount Coupons)
- Categorized Questions
- Links to Reference Material
- Exam Simulations
- Problems with TestTaker on Windows 10
- Website not mobile friendly
Best Value Alternative: USCGQ - starting at $15
Our SeaSources Experience
If you take a moment to browse around the SeaSources.net website is actually loaded with a lot of useful tidbits of information.
The site unfortunately does show its age clearly with a very simple design typical of the 90s era and does not display well on modern devices - especially mobile phones. Thus viewing on mobile phone was a bit painful, so we continued to the review on a desktop.
To use SeaSources you first need to register. Click on the big banner just below the two American flags to get to the registration area. You are greeted with a page with some instructions. Skip all that and scroll to the bottom of the page where the actual signup link is … well, almost. This link takes you to the login page first, on which you can find the signup link … or just click here to go there directly.
Signup is quite straightforward asking the basic questions like name, email, password and what licensing you are aiming to get. After registering you are sent an activation email which contains a link you need to click to activate your account. Pretty standard stuff these days.
Now you can head back to the SeaSources Login page and log in using the credentials you just created.
After logging in you are presented with a completely different user interface with various areas.
SeaSources allows a limited number of free tests. This allows you to get a good sense of what the application can offer before you purchase upgraded access.
You start out a test by choosing the Area / Subject / Topic on which you want to do the test. The granular categorization of questions is really nice as it allows you to master a specific topic group before you move on to the next.
The testing interface itself is however not that intuitive. It was not immediately clear you could actually click on the question options A,B,C,D. It was also not clear that you need to click a second time to move to the next question.
On a desktop you can also simply type the choices A,B,C,D to select a choice and then press any key to move to next question.
Once you click on your answer you will quickly see if you were correct or not. If you are correct your choice will highlight in green. Wrong, your choice will be red with the correct answer in green.
We liked the Reference and Assets included on some questions. If you are uncertain about a question it is nice to have those available for reference. Although to seriously test your knowledge it is best to do questions with Reference toggled to hidden as to not give you “spoilers” to your question.
When you completed a test you will be shown your final score along with the list of questions you got wrong and of course the correct answers. There is also the option to immediately repeat the test using only the questions you missed. While this is a nice feature, you can only do this immediately after the test. It would have been more useful if one could come back later after reviewing your study material and tried those questions again. However, there was no way to do this as far as we could tell.
User config section allows you to change the information you provided at registration. There is also a section that allows you to change the theme, font and font size. However, the alternative theme looks really bad on my modern screen so we recommend sticking with the defaults!
In the score section, you can review the test results for your completed tests. It shows you the area you studied, the date tested and your score percentage for test.
We however found that this lacked the details we needed to really track progress.
It would have been nice to be able to do the following:
- Show how many questions were in the test and how many we got correct.
- Click on test score to retake test or see which questions were answered incorrectly.
Overall though you can get a good big picture view of your progress and start to get a feel if you mastered a specific topic.
This area is like the “Take Test” area with the following main differences:
- You must either buy tokens on sign up for subscription (starting at $30 for 1 month) to be able to take final exams.
- The final exam aims to simulate what you would experience in actual exam. Thus, you are not immediately provided with the answer as you make your choice on a question. Instead you are only graded at the end of the exam.
The store section is where you can buy increased access to the system.
As a free user your access is limited. To get full advantage of the system you need to buy a membership package. Pricing starts from $30 per month to $160 for 6 months.
Apart from being able to do unlimited test, membership also includes the following:
- Search function. Find a specific question and answer.
- Randomize questions
- Final Exam credits (differs by package)
- Study Guide credits (differs by package)
The Study Guide feature basically allows you to print questions for offline study. You can download example study guide here. We were not that impressed with this feature. While we think printing out questions for offline study could be very useful to those that will be away from internet access, the format of the printed study guide leaves a lot to be desired.
After a few minutes using the guide your eyes will start to swim. The questions are not numbered so if you lose your spot after just looking away for a moment it takes another moment to find the correct spot again. We also feel that having the wrong choices in guide would help you identify those nuances that are so problematic in the final exams.
Also, the study guide is only in “study guide” format with question and correct answer. A feature to print actual paper tests would have been very useful.
Note: Study Guide can only be generated from the TestTaker software. We based our review on sample guide provided because TestTaker did not work for us. See below.
We were however unable to review TestTaker. The Windows 10 machine we installed the SeaSources TestTaker software on could not run SeaSources as the application causes SSL errors.
Basically TestTaker creates a mini webserver on your machine and you access the SeaSources TestTaker via your browser that connects to this mini webserver. On our Windows 10 machine we could however not get it working as it kept on reporting the secure connection to service could not be established. (i.e. the SSL connection failed.)
We suspect that the SSL included with the application is just too old and not compatible with the new, more secure standards.
We had to move on to complete this review, but we hope to circle back later and review TestTaker if we can get it working.
Android Mobile Application
SeaSources provides a mobile application for Android-based mobile devices.
The features on the mobile version is limited and still considered BETA. Development on it seems to have stalled though as the last update was released in 2015.
As example, the Store is not on the mobile app. Thus, you will need to purchase everything you need from your desktop first and then sign in with the mobile application.
The current mobile version exposes only 3 sections: Take A Test, Final Exams and View Scores. Granted those are the most important sections once you have configured everything from your desktop.
On our testing, the “Take A Test” area had trouble loading the area/topic choices and we had to restart the app a few times to get it to work properly.
We also wish the tapping on the question answer choices were better. It is too easy to accidently tap the wrong choice with your finger because the choices are spaced too close with no clear boundary.
Overall the mobile application displays better than the normal website on smaller mobile screens and provides a convenient way to study questions while out and about - although internet connection is still required to use app.
iOS / iPhone Mobile Application
There is currently no iOS or iPhone version of the SeaSources application. Since development on Android version is stagnant we believe there is no immediate plans to bring out iPhone compatible version.
SeaSources provides a well categorized bank of questions to study. The quality of the questions and related material provided is very good.
The system however is technology wise very old and not well suited for today's mobile devices. Further in the case of the TestTaker software we were not even able to make it work on latest the version of Windows 10.
Thus we highly recommend you first test out the service and software on your devices before making a choice on which solution is best for you.
You may wish to also consider two other alternatives.