IDC recently reported that IT professionals with at least one relevant certification had nearly 2.5 times the professional influence as someone with no certification. This demonstrates the demand in the IT industry for new innovation and the need for quick adaptation. This is why so many have turned toward online certification programs to advance their IT careers.
Everyone prepares for certification exams in different ways, but some are willing to do whatever it takes to earn that certification status, even going so far as to cheat on their exam. We’re not talking about the old-school “note passing in class” type of cheating. We’re referring instead to sites known as “brain dumps.” These sites claim to provide an accurate representation of an entire exam and/or study materials that will “guarantee” you will pass a certification exam. What they don’t tell you is that they are not accurate and amount to committing criminal activities.
Q: Why is using brain dump sites considered cheating?
A: The reality is that the organizations providing “actual” exam questions and test materials are violating copyright laws. Just like sharing intellectual property from a physical product (like the code that supports a software product), exam content is protected and owned by their manufacturers. Brain dumps are not the same as study materials. These sites claim to have copies of the true intellectual property of VMware and other IT credential providers, which is illegal.
Q: Are all brain dump sites bad?
A: Any site not authored by VMware for VMware certification exams are wrong to use. We can all spot phishy sites, but even those that don’t look phishy still qualify as a dump site. Many brain dump sites are owned by the same people who go on to create new dump sites when one is asked to be shut down. This continues the spread of misinformation as owners get better at making their content appear legitimate with each new site.
Q: What happens if I use a dump site?
A: By purchasing or consuming the content provided by these sites, you would be in violation of VMware’s terms and conditions for taking the exam. This can have a serious and permanent impact on your ability to earn any VMware credential. You would also be in violation of other credential providers’ NDA agreements such as Microsoft and CompTIA. Ultimately you run the risk of having your certification revoked or banned from certification programs if caught using unethically acquired study materials.
Q: But if it helps guide my learning, how can it hurt?
A: Most, if not all, sites claiming to guarantee a pass on the exam, don’t have the actual exam answers. The inherent dangers of brain dump sites are that they don’t always have the right answers. They might say they do, but their answers are typically completed by their own team, which can leave room for human error. It’s easier to pull test questions than it is to pull the answer guide, which is why you can’t ever trust that sites have all the right answers.
All VMware exams go through a thorough and regular process to review, modify, or completely remove and replace exam items. This can happen at any time during the life of the exam. While these sites can be quite clever in gaining access to some exam content, they can never keep up with the ongoing changes. In essence, you won’t be receiving the accuracy, guidance and quality assurance that a credible certification provider can offer.
Q: If I can’t look at these sites, how will I know what to expect from the exam?
A: Every VMware exam provides an Exam Prep Guide (EPG). This is the best way to understand where to focus your studies. Each task or competency you will be tested on is outlined in the Objectives. Want to know what troubleshooting tasks will be tested? Go to the EPG section on Troubleshooting and Repairing. Want to know which products and solutions you need to know? Visit the VMware Products and Solutions section. The VMware EPG also provides sample exam questions. These make excellent practice questions to help you understand the way questions are structured and the way content is presented. While these exact questions won’t appear on an exam, they represent topic types and testing methods you’ll find during the real exam.
Q: How do I know if a website is authorized by VMware?
A: VMware does not support or authorize any site that claims to have a complete copy of any exam and no VMware partners will ever make claims for guaranteeing a pass on the exam. If you find a brain dump site inadvertently, you should report it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brain dumps are bad. Don’t use or recommend these sites during your exam studies. However, you still have many options to support your journey to expertise including:
- Visiting the VMware Authorized Training Center to ensure your training is delivered by an authorized partner.
- Reviewing the vast library of resources in the VMware Learning Zone, where dedicated Exam Prep Courses are provided.
- Finding a mentor or study group. VMware is very lucky to have a large community of advocates for the certification program, many are very willing to help and provide their experience on how best to study. They often write blogs about their experience with helpful references to additional study materials, like this blog from Katherine Skilling and this other featuring Igor Zecevic.