Braindumps aren't worth it

7 ways braindumps can hurt your IT career

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.

It’s cheating

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, 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!

Make sure you join my email list (top of the page). I offer exclusive deals and tip you off when new articles drop! Reach out if you want to chat.

 Photo Credit: Arjun Kartha




  • shockedstudent Reply

    Microsoft is a joke. They don’t care about exam cheaters. I sent several e-mails to complaining about my IT Academy providing exam dumps to the students. and not one response in months. I even e-mailed Mircosofts CEO and still nothing. They know about all the cheating and dumps and don’t give a damn!! Very sad indeed.

  • Deshi Reply

    I like sites like how to pass. Com. Where they change the question so it’s like the brain bumps but not exactly, so you still need to learn the information. I’ve always been good at figuring things out and great at my job, but have never been a good test taker. I like when practice exams are as close to the actual test as possible so you can prepare properly for them. In this way I think braindumps can still be used constructively, as long as you memorize how they got to the answer to the question, and not just the question and answer without fully understanding it, if there is not a howtopass equivalent.

  • Some guy Reply

    I can see, for the sake of compliance, they just would want you certified and worry about your ability to apply it when its time to cross that bridge.

  • bjones Reply

    Everyone in the industry, from the people who have taken the exams, all the way up to the companies that offer them, know very well that the whole thing is a cash cow. I’m not discounting the value of the knowledge, or that it is a must to acquire it, but Microsoft, as well as every other company offering these exams doesn’t give a damn about anything other than the almighty dollar they are reaping from the cert program. The majority of the really good admins I’ve run across have never taken a certification exam in their life and learned it all on the job. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door, but the exams are tedious, worded poorly on purpose, and in many ways made specifically to trip you up rather than test your knowledge, and the majority of the time don’t reflect what you will be facing in the wild at all. Just like college, it’s a money game, plain and simple. There are weekend courses and camps grinding out paper MCSE’s and such by the metric ton. And how do you think they are passing the exams so quickly? Companies like Microsoft will continue to turn the blind eye so long as the money keeps rolling in.

    • Teresa L Allton Reply

      OH MY GOODNESS, It’s like I wrote this myself… I COULD NOT AGREE MORE!! I couldn’t believe it when I took my 1st cert exam! (I’m a FT student at an online school that offers a bunch of Comp-TIA Certs in their IT Programs for you to obtain on ur way to obtaining a degree. Which/how many varies dep on your major or specialized field- We get 2 attempts incl in tuition then it’s on u if u fail again) I haven’t been able to stop bi***ing about this since, and I’ve taken 4 more of these since that 1st and still have 2 left to go. I am utterly infuriated, outraged, disgusted, pissed, and STUNNED that it’s…I dunno… allowed? An acceptable practice? No class action or some similar thing yet?? I thought I was going crazy, thought I was alone in my freak-out and couldn’t believe no one else saw how WRONG and just not okay this is!! Found this here, and find that Comp-TIA is not the only one?!!!!! SERIOUSLY??!! Is there just no higher-up to take the matter to that exists or what? Sum’n should be done, it’s so NOT ok. Here’s an example of my issues so far – Someone please explain WHY THE !#*K they are having you do 90 questions in 90 minutes for an exam of all critical-thinking, scenario-based (and oh, did I mention LONG?) questions?! They spent a considerable amount of time drilling into us that should be sure we take our time and clearly understand before attempting to answer. Then to pay attention to the fact that more than one choice is correct, but we are to choose the BEST option as our answer… according to whom?! Who says what’s best? Several I got wrong I disagreed with, and I based those on work experience – as in my company would never have chosen that option. What exactly does this time constraint prove?! Cuuuuuuuuz to me, it CAUSES the polar opposite of what they just said they were hoping to prevent – Unnecessary mistakes! And the obvious problem – WAY more stress in an already super stressful situation! I am at the end of my program, and I’m old, (part of the losers club who started college after HS but didn’t finish) so I was PT at 1st, still worked FT, then Corona’s hello was my job’s goodbye; Was 1/2-way so no quittin now! Paid lots of mulah I didn’t have until depleted to do this, now in the negative with no income, so I’m milking all I can from Fin Aid to be able to cover this 6 more months; Bottom line – been at this for an insane while and cannot NOT finish now, that’s not an option – u get it… damage to my life would be irreparable, period. These certs aren’t optionally offered – I don’t pass, I don’t grad! I have never ever had any issues with taking tests, blessed with the ability to learn and learn fast, and have never even come close to sweatin any academic test EVER! I usually ace em all with ease. I am a stressed out train wreck right now bcuz I have one of these exams coming up Monday. Absolutely PANICKED I’ll fail. It’s been like this at every one of these exams, and gets worse each time. My confidence actually lowers every time BECAUSE I know what to expect! Virtually ZERO (OK maybe a tiny fraction – at best) of the study material has been on these exams. An absolute waste of time. I was only able to pass because I’ve worked around computers (and all other related) in every job I’ve ever had. I learned over time and am now what I would consider very tech savvy – and know software, data, and networking just as well too, plus I’m a tinkering geek at home so I know my way around! I could recite the study material fwd and back in these courses, I studied it so much outta fear… yet I usually fail the 1st exam, (passed 1st try only once) then BARELY pass the 2nd (and final for me) attempt by the skin o’ my teeth! All due to their BS practices! Not something I did/didn’t do, no material incorrectly understood or missed! Usually I have no clue what the *** they’re asking by the way it’s worded (OMG that one is most often – and all co-students agree, it’s all they post about in the course chat, there are hundreds!) or it’s completely foreign material to me, usually because it was deprecated prior to me finding my inner geek, or just sum’n I’ve never heard of – nowhere in the course, went back to check on all like this. No sh** one of my ?s correct ans was “SuperDisk” (a type of floppy disc that was released toward the end of floppy disks usage, trying to save the dying tech) REALLY?! My 20-yr old son doesn’t even know what a floppy disk is, I had to explain – he’s never even actually seen a CD or DVD which came AFTER floppies for storage use, and HE WORKS AT INTEL. That’s not a joke! Why would you include this? WHY?! Not just outdated, LONG DEAD – and isn’t even a contributor to what brought tech to what it now, literally just a useless piece of info! Oh! And another good example just like it – one exam had a bunch of ?s RE Homegroup. Remember? POS that rarely-to-never worked in Win 7 and 8? Was alive like 2.5 seconds and is currently not able to be used at all, even on old Windows – MS blocks it even if you try back-alley-type ways to get it back! GONE. So why am I learning anything about it? (Answer: no one noticed (in their busy company that literally does NOTHING else) that it’s still on there, likely because they rarely update their exam material, only when forced to – that’s my guess! Tech upgrades at an insane, ever-increasing rate… 2 months is too long not look to make sure the courses/exams are currently relevant! Windows 7 was like in the dinosaur ages of tech, I was finally upgrading my M Razor (flip phone? wtf is a flip-phone? LOL) the year 7 came out… Like 1/3 of what’s in the Comp-TIA A+ Core 2 exam is crap about Windows 7. And oooooooh myyyyyyyy, you mentioned my biggest bitc* (getting mad almost cyber-cursed all the way) They absolutely DO have questions very clearly meant to trick you into answering incorrectly! Those questions are just like that old dumb riddle, “plane crashes on the border of x and x..blah blah… where should the survivors be buried?” (the blah blah is a bunch of yap distracting u from the single clue – the word “survivors”- which are obviously not going to be buried alive! JIC u didn’t know that riddle) How exactly does that show whether or not I know and understand the course material or whether or not I really studied?! I’m sorry, WHAT DOES YOUR QUESTION HAVE TO DO WITH THE PRICE OF TEA IN CHINA?! Nothing whatsoever could possibly justify WHY you would purposely do that on a college-level exam that’s on a subject requiring higher-than-avg intelligence to comprehend… you do that to the ADD kid to teach him why he should be paying attn – riddles are tools to teach kids or just for laughs – no good or lesson-learned type of thing could possibly come out of doing that to us, that I can come up with as a possible reason. Therefore, to me, it’s real simple – You are SET UP TO FAIL. It’s insane how perfectly obvious it is that is their intention! The prices on the exams are hundreds… CompTIA, what did it cost u, a company that exists only to supply the exams and give the certs a yes or no depending on their score, to give me this exam? Hmmm? I’m sorry, so how is paying this insane price justified? What am I paying u for exactly? Don’t even get me started on the even higher prices of their proprietary exam-preps/study materials/courses that are no different from what u can get free online! (from like LinkedIn Learning for example) When I say no different, I mean VERBATIM, and from 100% legit sources. I found that one out the hard way, literally 30 mins after buying theirs…sigh…yay me! Oh wait, not done yet, more word vomit – THEEENNN those certs u just got likely require CEUs that of course must be from their list of costly options to count, to completed every so often to KEEP that cert! What exactly do Comp-TIA employees DO all day anyway? Oh yeah, and here’s my favorite – the exams are all based on outdated/deprecated/no longer even optional to use material! So I hope u didn’t get this cert thinking u could DO ANYTHING WHATSOEVER with this newly acquired knowledge ON THE JOB – Sorry, YOU LOSE AGAIN! OK done now. CRIMINALS

  • Naveen Kumar Reply

    A very good article! Now a days lots of people have opted IT as their carrier option but there are several drawbacks in the industry and It was clearly listed out in this blog. One should read this before choosing IT as their carrier.

  • Callme Sir Reply

    It’s ironic considering that the certification process itself doesn’t test your actual knowledge of a subject but only how well you studied and were able to memorize the study materials however short-term that might be. At this point certifications are archaic. We have long since evolved from information retention and into information retrieval. If you want to legitimately test someone for job suitability they should be tested on the ability to use search engines and perform research in books and websites.

    • wowitsdave Reply

      Maybe. I would agree that we spend a lot of time googling stuff, reviewing vendor documentation, and creating Support Requests with vendors.

      IT certs, however, are a good way for (at least) non-technical people like recruiters and CFOs to see if you’ve got some kind of validated experience.

      At the end of they day, it’s about either what we know already and how to find answers when we *don’t* know. I also have a challenge for you: go into an interview and tell that Systems Architect that you don’t really know Kubernetes, but you’ll just google it. Let me know your results. 😉

  • Daniel Reply

    Hello Dave,
    I never go to dumps to learn anything even those dumps with explanations because its just like mugging up and even if you try to learn it will confuse you because you dont have any strong fundamental knowledge. I always read learning material from Books, Videos and try to do Practicals as much as possible which help retain knowledge.
    But saying that, i feel Cisco type Certification costs have gone high , for many Countries like South asian and devoloping countries fees like$389 for CCNA is too high- It was 140$ when i gave it back in 2010. I gave CCNA r&s exam again 2 months ago to recertify by putting in more than 140 hours of study and practicals and gave exam without referring to dumps and got a score of 790, whereas passing was 810. Cisco keeps the exam costs high and even the passing marks , And the CCNA exam has got much more tougher than what it used to be 6-8 years ago.
    So i feel Cisco keeping exam costs high causes many of them(if not all) to do exam dumps even those who have learned the concepts well. You cannot expect people in many countries to pay 390$ two to three times and then get a score just below the passing marks and get frustated. Let me know your comments on this.

  • Moe Reply

    All my friends who work in the IT support field have used braindumps to prepare for the test, they pass every test, they are now very seccesful in their careers and the get well paid, in another hand I’ve been studying for my MCSA exam over 7 months, I failed my 1st exam attempts and I don’t think that I am going to make it in the 2nd simply because Microsoft tests our memory not our knowledge. by the way, I have more than 20 years of IT Support experience in both Enterprise and small office environments.

    • wowitsdave Reply

      Hey, Moe.

      If you’re in an enterprise environment- do you have an EA with Microsoft? You may be able to get voucher and training credits (perhaps swapped from MS Professional Services hours) from your employer to help you tackle this.

      If you want more tips here- I have several articles that give strategies- but I don’t want to bog you down with that.

      Missing on an exam is very hard. You’re doing the right thing- even if it’s not what everyone is doing.

      Best of luck- and let me know if I can help.


  • Boogar Reply

    I spend a ridiculous amount of time studying for my exams. I get up at 4am just to have time to study, everyday. I read books, I take PAID training. I have full scale labs and I do learn a ton, but there is one issue. I have a diagnosed severe case of ADD with General Anxiety Disorder. I can know this stuff inside and out, but when its time to take the test I check out completely. Its not my fault and is a real issue when you need to take a $165 test that you may very well fail. Not because you dont want to spend the time studying or dont know the material, but because your brain just shuts down completely. I use the brain dumps, not to just pass the test but to understand the questions better and to have a higher confidence of passing. I have tried everything. Bootcamps, schools, seminars you name it. The only thing that helps me is seeing the actual question, verbage and format. I bought “legitimate” practice questions and they are not EVEN CLOSE! It throws me off completely come test time. I dont feel bad about using dumps at all because I have full confidence in my skillset, but not my test taking skills. My Azure skills are advanced. There isnt much I dont know or know how to do in Azure, but when I look at the questions Im lost. Again, not because I dont know it but because I get lost in the question. I go through the dumps thoroughly. Not just to memorize them, but to fully understand the question and answer to LEARN. Not just to pass. So I will say, if you use them and you dont truely know the material and how to apply it then yeah, you are discounting the value of the certifications and will end up failing at your job at some point and its because you “cheated” the system, but if you are like me then get the dumps. Get some confidence and reenforce your skills.

    • wowitsdave Reply

      Man, Boogar- that’s really tough.

      I appreciate your feedback and while I stand by my position, I do wish you the best.

  • Mubarak Abdella Reply

    Thanks, Very informative.

    • wowitsdave Reply

      Thanks, Mubarak. ☺️

  • Rob Reply

    This is not a masters degree; this is a vendors exam to certify that you have some idea about how that vendor implements their technology. I know this is an old post but I agree with much of the sentiment around vendors seeing exams as a cash cow, exams simply testing your ability to retain often insignificant pieces of information rather than testing your understanding of concepts and theory that you can apply in practice. Certs are also strongly aligned with reseller discounts. Apart from the cost; IMO there is little ethical difference between paying for a dump and paying to do the exam several times in order to pass and if your employer has an EA and you get exam vouchers – the difference becomes even smaller. If you have limited experience in a field and you’re using a dump to get a cert to add creds to your CV, then you’re a chump and will get found out soon enough in the pressure cooker of an outage. If you’re experienced with the specific technology, do it as a day job and use a dump to help you understand the stupid questions you’ll see that ask you to recall minor pieces of information that you would normally Google on the job, then I have no problem. Perhaps vendors could look to companies like RedHat as an example of how to test real skills in a lab like environment rather than rely of multiple choice exams. Not sure if there are any braindumps would help you with the RHCE.

  • James Reply

    Great Article. Braindumps can really hurt your IT career sometimes. As peoples are not fully aware of the practical concepts, they are rather focusing on getting the certification by any means. These Braindumps will ease the participant’s ways of clearing the exams but they will lack the core knowledge.

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