First, I appreciate how much you obviously care about Cisco certifications. Your concern and interest is a real compliment to the program. While that kind of devotion is exactly what we want to inspire in people, we also understand the onus it puts on us to support and foster the devotion.
So, yes, as we take steps to bring down these cheating sites, we go out of our way to ensure that innocent, well-intentioned candidates are not punished for someone else's crimes. Our goal is to not just stop cheating, but also to support our honest test takers, and to vouch for their skills and credibility with the companies they apply to. We want to be your stamp of approval, your competitive edge.
While we do take disciplinary actions against some candidates, that is only after due diligence has been performed. Again, we understand the responsibility we have and proceed with extra care in such matters.
I'd like to also thank you for offering solutions. We are happy to harness the considerable intelligence of our certification candidates, benefiting from their suggestions and insights.
With that said, though, we can't really discuss your ideas. Maybe they are new to us. Maybe we have already been working on them for a while. Either way, broadcasting what we do behind the scenes would only make things harder for us. It is like a pro football coach saying during a press conference, "One of our statisticians gave us the play you see on the board behind me. We'll be using it in this Saturday's game." I hope you understand. I encourage everyone to be part of this dialog. Creative ideas such as yours will drive the certifications to greater heights and will keep us one step ahead of those who want to benefit from the program without putting in the work needed to prove true competency.
Keep contributing to the Cisco Learning Network. Keep submitting your concerns and suggestions. And when you come across a site built for cheating, notify us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again.
Cisco moderator, thank you for that full and carefully considered reply. My original posting was prompted by a couple of long discussion threads recently on the NetPro forum on the subject of Cisco's relationship with its certification candidates. You might like to take a look.
I fully understand that Cisco cannot give away its gameplan, and I would not expect it. Unfortunately, in the absence of feedback from Cisco, the rumour mill can start producing all manner of stories and grumbles. So even if Cisco needs to keep its stretegy under wraps, we loyal advocates and supporters would still like some reassurance that the strategy will work for us and not against us. If only to keep us on side. Your reply has provided these reassurances in a very solid way, so thank you.
Wow! What a great thread this is! It hasn't been added to in a while so I will throw out my 2 cents. I work for a company where part of the job interview is a hands on test! Yes you have to actually ssh into a switch, change a vlan, configure aaa and do whatever else would be a basic function of the job We do it for our server people as well. We had a CCNP apply for a job and I adminiistered the test to this candidate. Now at the time, I was just a lowly CCNA, not that CCNA's are lowly because I am still one myself. So I was a little uncomfortable testing this mighty CCNP.
During this test, this guy did know some stuff, but certainly not at the CCNP level. I was actually shocked that he struggled with even some basic CCNA concepts.
Did this guy devalue the CCNP? Possibly. Did he devalue himself? Absolutely! Cheating may make some skepticle of certification with any vendor, after all, when I did my CNE 10 years ago, I remember the paper CNE debate. This issue has been around for a very long time, but cheating will hurt the cheater even more in the end because if they go for a job and can't do it, they will be exposed! After all, why get certified if you can't do it?
The reason I choose to certify is to show my employer and myself that I can do it and to learn additional skill to help me improve in my job!
It sounds like you guys are doing things the right way. Test the candidates to make sure that their abilities match what they say they can do. You will find some certified individuals who aren't up to snuff. But the nice thing about certifications is that you should be able to interview fewer certified people to find a good candidate as opposed to casting a wider net.
A certification is just like any other qualification (experience, degree, etc). It's a way for employers to focus their employee search and hopefully find a qualified candidate with minimal effort
One note on this is that i have worked as an instructor with various training partners and interestingly enough was in a similar situation where a training partner was, still is handing out Testkings, Actualtests, Pass4sure, etc..How do you think people pass these exams in 2 days of studying and attend 12 day bootcamps to get the entire cert? Is it corrupt, yes, absolutely. These little bootcamp sites wouldnt be popping up all over the place without them. I have contacted attorneys at Cisco regarding the use of such material and they are very emphatic about the "integrity of the exams not being compromised". That being said, enforcing this is a different situation. Cisco knows about these braindump sites, or let me clarify, these sites are not braindumps but screen shots of the exams as we all know. All they are are testing centers that are screenshotting the images and putting them into docs. how do they get away with this? They change one or two words per question.If you ever read one, you'll see the questions make no sense because of this. Anyway, cisco tries to enforce this but they would have to go after the testing sites which they have recently done with recent testing site requirements. I have never heard of that "tips" email address as mentioned in a previous post but it seems that if Cisco already knows about these specific sites then why havent they gone after them? The answer i usually get is there is not enough manpower. I guess we choose our battles. I have presented this question to Cisco attorneys and I'll present it here, "Can we use Testkings, Actualtests, Pass4sure or similar materials to study from?" . The usual answer, "You can use anything that does not compromise the integrity of the exam". Lets see what answer we can get here.
I can only concur with the statement that only the "knowledgeable" will survive. If they use the brain dumps as a resource to learn the material, or to point out their weaknesses then more power to them, but they will not be effective technicians just be learning the answers to a few hundred questions. It is all a question of what they need the certification for.
Thanks very much for your insight into this area, and for explaining why you can't tell us much about what you are doing.
I have been an MCT for now around 15 years - and in the MS world, we see the very same problems. I recently passed the OCS exam, and afterwards I was sent a copy of a test prep 'tool'. My memory is not very good at the best of times, but from what I can recall, the 'tool' was word for word from the exam. Not just close, but word for word. Frankly, anyone with a memory (i.e. better than mine!) could run through this half a dozen times, and then go in an ace the exam. And having looked at their site, the cost of this 'tool' is a mere US$35!
So long as sites like this one (I'll NOT publicise the name in public, but CIsco is free to contact me by email) are up and running, they (and all the other certification schemes) have a problem.
Oh - and a good annecdote: a test taker was discovered taking a test recently with a button hole camera, photographing each exam question. You have to wonder...
In closing, I agree with other posters that Cisco can possibly do more for candidates. One idea, taken from the MS book, is to encourage MVP like people to contribute to a certification wiki. Put the wiki up on cisco.com or on jivesoft.com and let folks add to it (vs add via discussions). Then 'reward' the top contributors. Just a thought.
OK, I'm confused. I thought braindumps were where people who have sat the exams go on line and post the exact questions with answers that were in the exam.
People on here seemed to be critisiing test prep tools. I've been on the CCNP course, read the study manual but if I want a little extra help making sure that I am prepared for the exam, what's wrong with test preps? What's the difference if I use Transcender or any of the others listed here?
Is there a list of permitted test prep tools or are they all forbidden?
You're right that "braindumps" refer to someone writing down the questions and offered answers. These can take the form of a Word doc, pdf, txt doc, html page, etc. But they can also be bundled into a test exam programme and sold as a test prep tool. As I said above, for the MS OCS exam, the 'tool' I was sent was (from what I can recall!) word for word from the exam. So some test prep tools really are little more than automated brain dumps. Quite how the companies get away with this is beyond me.
Transcender, allegedly, used to be little more than an automated brain dump as well, but some time back they stopped this alleged practice. Tools like this today are there to help you to get the hang of the types of questions and ensure you cover the knowedge you know. If you've taken a few Cisco exams (to work out how distractors are implemented, etc) then writing a similar exam is not that difficult (although NOT easy!).
Tools like Transcenders can help you to get to the top of your game - especially for tricky subjects like subnetting.
But to answer you point, some test prep tools are pukka and some are not much more than automated brain dumps.
Your final question is a good one - there must be SOME permitted testing tools, since Cisco Press ship with some! But I've not seen a list of 'recommended' tools. By way of comparison only, take a look at http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exams/70-236.mspx - for this Microsoft exam, Microsoft recommend both MeasureUp and Self Test. As I say, I've not seen a similar list for Cisco exams.
Transcender started writing their own material from the Cisco testing objectives instead of using brain dumps. As far as which test prep tools are legit, I just found this cool site called certguard.com that rates sites as legit or braindumps. It is really cool because it identified a test prep I was considering using as a brain dump.
Another thing, try doing a whois lookup on some of these test prep domin names and see what you find. It is very interesting to see where the owner of the domain resides. Let me give you an example. A little while ago, there was an article about a company in China that was selling supposedly Cisco equipment. Well, some one called in with support one day and the Serial Number was not one in Cisco TAC's database, so they identified that someone out there was making counterfit Cisco gear.
Well there are counterfit test prep tools too a.k.a braindumps. I found one that looked really good until I found certguard.com. It said it was a braindump. So I did more research and did a whois lookup and found that the domain was from..... China. It may be nothing ,but I just didn't feel good about that and knowing about the Chisco gear issue.
Now I am not saying that China is at fault. They just happen to be the country that the counterfiters reside in. Look up other domains and there are plenty of braindumping sites that are in the states.
Another part of this issue is the actual testing center itself. I have not been to one, but I have heard stories about how some of these testing centers are not following identification & security protocols, when it comes to their testing candidates. What should happen is you go to a testing center, you sign in, you empty your pockets of everything and place them in a locker. I mean everything! Coins, papers, wallet, any electronic device, everything. Then you need to show two forms of ID, then you need to do another sign in and have your digital photo taken. This way you cannot have a proxy tester come in and take the test for you.
If testing centers are not doing this everywhere in the world, then we still have a problem. Then of course there are the NDA breakers.
JLHainy - great tip on www.certguard.com. The site whose "practice test" came from shows up as a brain dump site (which is no surprise). The whois for this site shows nothing speical, although they've moved registrars a few times.
The real difficulty in removing brain dumps is dealing with the lack of variation in the sims particularly.
I failed my CCNA first time around. When I got home and googled the rough subject area of the sim, hoping to find a Cisco document or two on implementation, the very first link was a blog post with screenshots of the sim and how it was answered. The blog was 18 months old yet it was the exact question I had faced.
If we assume (and of course, we don't really know) that labs account for a higher mark than an average question, some form of variation would go a long way to deal with the situation of making dumps so attractive.
I certainly didn't go and google "CCNA braindump" - then I could see it being my own fault. When you copy and paste a topic area heading from the CCNA study guide into google and find yourself staring at a dump, one wonders if there should be more legitimate material out there.
This might come a little bit late.
With experience in taking exams from various vendors, I can only applaud the RedHat way of building their exams, and I think Cisco and the rest should follow the same path.
Redhat takes all the hassle in preparing such practical lab exams, and the outcome is so valuable that by the time you leave the exam centre you are satisfied no matter what is the outcome. Bravo RedHat.
I have been there and trust me the feeling is great. Getting RedHat recognition, taking the test and preparing for the test is just great about Redhat Linux.
I would like to tell you guys something . I decided to start doing my ccna a month back . I contacted ppl on various social networking sites and they told me CCNA is very easy . What you have to do is STudy a few braindumps and you pass . I am a starter in this field and i never knew what Braindumps were . But now after talking to few ppl i knw what they are and i would like to tell to you gusy usage of Braindumps to pass ccna is very very rampant . But anyways there is no shortcut to sucess and those using braiundumps can have a headstart(in getting certificates) but they can never survive in long run .
You hit the nail on the head with point # 3. If the database of questions is 100 times the current size, there would not be any use of such websites and questions. Prospective candidates have a limitation for the number of questions they can memorize... Some can memorize 100, 500 (maybe even 1000).
If the database had 50,000 or around 100,000 unique questions, the sites would close down soon. Additionally, for each of the 100,000 questions, If the order, addressing, configuration and text of the solutions are modified, the database could be expanded further.