IT certifications are a way to prove your knowledge in a certain technology, but there are a shocking number of people using braindumps to help get them.
What is a braindump exactly when it comes to your IT career?
A braindump (sometimes brain dump or brain-dump) is a collection of actual exam questions and answers, provided by recent exam takers.
These questions are either copied down digitally or manually by test takers, then passed on to websites that sell them to others. The people who sell braindump information say that it will help you pass a test you’re not prepared for.
The stakes are high
It’s easy to see why you would want to use a braindump. Who wouldn’t want to know the answers to a test that they were going to take. Sometimes, IT workers are required to get and maintain certifications- at the risk of not getting a raise, higher-paying job, or losing their current job.
Some use the argument that vendors like Microsoft, Cisco, Red Hat, and many others include scored content on the exams that is not covered in the legitimate learning materials.
There are, however, some practical and ethical reasons you should avoid them- because they can hurt your IT career.
If you’re using braindumps, I still like you- but I have to let you know about them.
Not much to say here! Cheating is clearly wrong, because you are saying you know something you don’t.
We’ve known it’s wrong since you were in grade school. How is it different now? The Terms of Service of the exams clearly state that cheating is a violation of that.
To me, it comes down to an integrity issue. I want to know I did the right thing.
You are enriching people selling stolen materials
Yep. Criminals. As it turns out, companies selling braindumps within most western countries get shut down, because they are violating copyright law.
Microsoft Learning actively pursues these companies, their ISPs, and hosting companies with Cease-and-Desist letters and the occasional lawsuit. It’s a bit like whack-a-mole, however, because when they get busted, they tend to reopen the following week under a new name.
Some of these sites operate in extra-judicial zones. For example, Test-King.com is located in the Seychelles, which is a remote island chain in off the eastern coast of Africa in the southern Indian Ocean. There are few developed places this remote- and this tough to enforce international laws in – which is why it’s also a financial center for some dark characters, a la the Caymans or Switzerland.
The questions change
The whole premise of braindumps is that you get questions that will be on the test. The obvious problem with that is that the test vendors rotate and change the questions often. Will it really help you that much?
Some of the providers are also running adaptive test. These exams test you more on the things you get wrong through the test, so the likelihood of the braindump questions being on there get smaller and smaller.
Fail the test halfway through? The stop administering it. This limits the exposure of the test questions to be taken.
The braindump quality is sketchy
Go do an internet search on Test King reviews (a braindump site that’s been around a long time). You’ll find tons of review like:
“Exam questions are outdated”
“Do not buy”
“Not the Tesk King of old”
“They cheat” <- Love the irony here
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. These sites are run by people whose very business model is based on stealing and selling of intellectual property. Why should you trust them?
The questions can get out of date quickly- which causes a lot of people to bomb certification tests.
They can tell if you are
Microsoft has said repeatedly that they use algorithms that can detect if you are using braindumps. How? They are obviously tight-lipped on the exact method, but they say the use things like how quickly you answer the questions, which ones you get right an wrong, how many questions you mark, etc.
They also use so-called “stealth questions”- questions known to be in braindumps, but with slightly changed wording that creates a different correct answer. There are even unsubstantiated rumors that Microsoft runs a few braindump sites, set up just to catch cheaters- but I think that’s really just an urban legend.
Although they take great pains to catch cheaters, don’t worry- they take greater pains to avoid false positives- so as long as you do the right thing, you have nothing to worry about.
If caught, you can be banned for life and decertified
If someone does cheat, and gets caught, they face being banned forever from the vendor. Sometimes the testing center will ban you, too. In extreme cases, you can be stripped of your certifications from that vendor.
At that point, I’m not sure how you’d continue in IT? What if a future employer required you to have a cert from Microsoft or Cisco, but you could never get one? Certifications aren’t as good as experience, but how limiting would that be?
You rob yourself of the learning
For me, the next problem after integrity is this one. I want to know how to do the thing I’m being tested for.
If someone cheats, they are saying that they don’t have the knowledge needed to do the work, but want the certification anyway. I want to be able to confidently tell an employer that I know how to do the work and be able to deliver that afterwards.
The only way to accomplish that is to study the old fashioned way. Read a lot of the content and put your hands on keyboards and build it. It’s the only way.
How to avoid braindumps
You can spot braindump sites pretty easily. Just look for words like
- Actual exam questions and answers
- Real exam content
- Current and accurate questions
- Braindump or dump
Other telltale signs include them giving a test pass guarantee with no terms and offering access to all their content for one price. No legit exam company does that.
There are legitimate practice exams, which are offered by companies such ans MeasureUp (who I use), Self Test, Transcender, Boson, and more. Use those instead.
If you’re looking to pass a certification exam, check out my method. It’s worked for me over and over!
I want you to get certified. It will help you learn, get better jobs, and make more money. Avoiding braindumps is key to make sure you don’t jeopardize your career in the process.
Just look out for the signs, and be careful what you buy. Happy testing!
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Photo Credit: Arjun Kartha