Exam dumps - why they are a bad idea?

Last month I talked about the use of brain dumps and why they are a bad idea—and got a lot of great responses. I’m glad to see the enthusiasm for that topic, even from those who disagreed with me about the nature of brain dumps as legitimate study materials. I will acknowledge what some of you pointed out: that addressing this subject on a Born to Learn blog is like preaching to the choir. Still, if anyone reading had any doubts or confusion about brain dumps, and I helped clarify, I achieved my aim.

To that point, why do people choose to use the materials (legitimate or otherwise) that they do? There are many reasons, of course, and getting to the heart of those reasons is one facet of managing an anti-piracy program. To combat cheating I need to understand the motivations behind cheating.

Understanding our test-takers is one step. Last year, I collaborated on a white paper with the IT Certifications Council(ITCC) on “Securing Certifications” (full paper here.) Below is an excerpt on the types of test-takers we identified (referred to as “candidates,” because they are candidates for a certification).

Candidates and Test Takers

Before issues surrounding test security can be resolved, it is important to understand how the ITCC categorizes candidates and others who take tests. The ITCC has identified three main groups of test takers:

IT Professionals

  • This group represents the majority of certification candidates who are honest and have done the requisite learning and studying for their exams. They are proud to earn a certification and highly value those efforts.
  • IT Professionals are most affected by cheaters and test abusers because the integrity of their hard-earned certifications is compromised. These candidates must feel that their hard work is valued; to do so, the certification industry must demonstrate a commitment to combating cheating and recognizing the value of a truly-earned certification.
  • Honest candidates will support anti-piracy actions designed to combat software and content theft because they want to preserve the integrity of certifications.

Misinformed Individuals

  • These candidates may cheat because they are misinformed. Most may not understand that the materials and methods they used had violated an exam agreement. They also may not understand the consequences of their actions.
  • Brain dump sites in particular can be very misleading for these individuals, because the sites disguise themselves as official materials. Proxy-testing offers can be very tempting as well, especially for those candidates who did not pass an exam the first time or who find it difficult to make it to a test center.
  • Misinformed Individuals are either tempted to find shortcuts in test preparation and test taking because it is easy to do so, or they otherwise become victims of nefarious business practices.


  • This is the smallest group, and is comprised of candidates who intend to cheat the system and who have no regard for the consequences. They actively seek exam answers or brain dump material; they participate or pay for proxy testing; or they find other ways to cheat during the exam.
  • A lack of education is not a culprit in this category; rather, these candidates will find the means to obtain a certification or steal exam answers despite the ramifications.
This does not fully address all the reasons for test-taking behavior, both good and bad, of course—this is just one element. My goal is to make sure the first category remains the largest group, that the second group is transformed into the first, and that the third group—the cheaters—are removed. I want candidates to feel good about the certifications they work hard to earn; and making sure they are not compromised by a select few is one way to make sure that happens.

Source: http://borntolearn.mslearn.net


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