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Why You Should Avoid “Brain Dumps” When Preparing for IT Certifications

Why You Should Avoid “Brain Dumps” When Preparing for IT Certifications

Why You Should Avoid “Brain Dumps” When Preparing for IT CertificationsWhy You Should Avoid “Brain Dumps” When Preparing for IT CertificationsBrain dumps are pretty constant, if unwanted and unattractive feature of the IT certification landscape.

I’ve been working in and around certification programs since the late 1980s, when it was my pleasure to have been loaned from a field office to corporate headquarters at Novell to work on what would become their “Intro to LANs” course, and a very early element in the CNE certification curriculum. I didn’t really find out about brain dumps until the mid-1990s, when the CNE was in its heyday, and the Microsoft MCSE program was just getting underway.

As I understand it, the original idea behind the earliest brain dumps came from pooling the memories of exam takers, who would post as many questions as they could remember about exams they’d taken online, using language as close to the original wording as memory could provide. They would also provide input about answer options associated with such questions, and make suggestions or provide direction about correct versus incorrect answers. Over time, these bulletin boards or websites could accumulate substantial information about what appears on some specific certification exam, and what kinds of tricks one might encounter, as well as how to answer questions, whether tricky or straightforward.

Over time, brain dumps have turned into more of a business where companies or site operators invest in an online presence, and then hire test-takers or otherwise obtain test information, so they can sell so-called test preparation tools, exam guides, practice tests, and so forth to exam candidates. There have even been reports of unscrupulous test center operators in the VUE or Prometric networks who’ve gone so far as to videotape the screens of PCs at which candidates take various certification exams.

Later, they go through the video to obtain exact copies of the questions and answers for whatever exam was on display. However they gain this information, their goal is to use it to make money, by selling “exam aids” to candidates seeking to improve their odds of passing some specific certification exam.

Ed TittelEd TittelEd Tittel is a 30-year-plus veteran of the computing industry, who’s worked as a programmer, a technical manager, a classroom instructor, a network consultant and a technical evangelist for companies that include Burroughs, Schlumberger, Novell, IBM/Tivoli and NetQoS. He has written and blogged for numerous publications, including Tom's Hardware, and is the author of over 140 computing books with a special emphasis on information security, Web markup languages and development tools, and Windows operating systems.

Check out Ed's Tom's IT Pro  Making It in IT - Certification & Training blog here.

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(Shutterstock cover image credit: Young Man Studying)