I regularly visit the Microsoft Born to Learn blog to keep up with their training and certification activities. Occasionally, other bits and pieces of the learning apparatus surface through this channel, as was the case with Kerri Davis’ excellent “Why Brain Dumps Are Bad” post this morning. Of course, as a cert sponsor and provider, Microsoft has a huge axe to grind against brain dumps — which should be understood as various tools for obtaining verbatim access to exam content through illicit means, often in exchange for payment — but there are lots of good reasons why brain dumps are best avoided when prepping for any kind of cert exam. Here is my personal list of top reasons why you shouldn’t mess with brain dumps when chasing any kind of certification:
5. Because there is no quality control on brain dump content, you never know if what you’re getting is current, accurate, or correct.
4. Brain dumps stress memorization over learning, which may work to pass an exam, but is useless when it comes to developing real skills or knowledge.
3. Brain dumps claim to present actual or real exam content, which is expressly forbidden to anyone inside or outside the sponsor/vendor organization who really does have such access.
2. Brain dumps debase the value of the exams and credentials they cover, because they obscure legitimate attempts to measure test-taker’s skills, abilities, knowledge, and hands-on experience. Measuring what somebody can remember has little or nothing to do with what they actually know and can do.
1. If you use a brain dump and get caught, you will not only lose all of your certifications from that vendor or sponsor, you may also be barred from any future participation in their cert programs.
Given the potential consequences of resorting to such illicit means of gathering information, and the inherently questionable nature and value of the content involved, it’s not just a bad idea to use brain dumps: it could be a form of professional suicide for those whose jobs either strongly encourage or outright inquire certification credentials. Like driving under the influence, it’s clearly something anyone can do if they choose. But if they’re smart, they’ll make other choices and take other approaches to passing certification exams. So should you!