Braindumps - Avoid them at all costs

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For the worriers, it's not simply about how fast you complete the exam or if you score 100% on the exam. Factors such as the length of time a candidate takes to answer each individual question, the overall length of time taken to complete the exam, the number of marked questions, changed answers and so on are measured against the historical norm. The software also looks out for ‘aberration’ with regards to the way a candidate answers specific questions – for example if they answer a difficult question correctly but fail a more simple, related question. An interesting article covering the detection of cheating in adaptive tests can be read here.

Understandably candidates are worried that they might return a ‘false positive’ result and be stripped of their certifications and branded a cheat when they have done nothing (knowingly) wrong. There’s already enough stress when taking an exam without the added pressure of wondering if you’re going to be branded a cheater for some of the test material that you perhaps inadvertently used. A very understandable fear is that they might unknowingly stumble across a braindump question or two in places as innocuous as forums, blogs or other online resources. Naturally, vendors don’t wish to disclose too much information about how they identify fraud for fear that their methods might become compromised but at the same time some of those vendors who are using data forensics to identify exam cheaters have gone to great pains to assure candidates that the chances of returning a ‘false positive’ are practically zero.

Part of the reason they may be able to make such claims is by the use of stealth questions in the exam – questions designed to trap would-be cheaters. Questions that closely resemble those found on braindumps might require just a slight change in wording to change the whole meaning of the question – and therefore require a completely different answer. A vendor needs to only have three or four such questions in a 60-question exam to be able to easily identify cheating. The statistical probability of a candidate answering most, or all, of the stealth questions with the ‘right’ wrong answer would be so small that if that were to happen flags would be raised immediately. Other forensic evidence could then be drawn upon to prove conclusively that the test taker had used braindumps.

The stakes are high for both vendors and test takers with arguably test takers standing to lose more. A lifetime ban from pursuing a Microsoft or Cisco credential could leave a candidate’s career stuck in first gear. One thing is for sure, and that is forensic analysis will become much more sophisticated over the years to come and so too will the exams we take. Expect serious certification tracks to adopt more performance-based measuring, more lab and simulated questions, introducing a ‘why’ component and so on. You can also expect to see more rigorous controls at your local testing centers, with perhaps biometric identification measures (fingerprints, eye scans etc), security surveillance and so on.

Certifications, first and foremost, are supposed to be a reflection of your skill and a way to measure your value to your employers - so from a candidate’s point of view it’s worth remembering that these anti-braindump measures can only enhance the value of the certification that you gain. The time and effort that you put in to studying for and gaining your certification can only be rewarded if the integrity and value of the credential is maintained.

Studying properly for an exam is an investment in your career and your future. There will always be those who will braindump their way through life but the odds are now much more likely that the use of braindumps could seriously affect your entire career. So be careful about the studying material that you use and, above all, make a real effort to learn the material. Braindumps, if you don’t get caught, might get you a certification - studying and learning the skills properly will earn you a career.

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