With the crackdown on certification cheaters, the ITCC strongly urges candidates to know and follow the certifying agencies' security policies. They are posted online and must be acknowledged when a candidate wants to take a test.
CertGuard co-founders Robert Williams and Taylor Ripley offer their advice on how to legitimately prepare for certification. "Research and find the right study materials," Williams says. "This isn't just to get you through the exam, but to build your career and your future. You are cheating yourself if you don't prepare for the long term."
CertGuard points people to legitimate study materials and resources. "One of our missions is to prevent 'inadvertent cheaters' from using brain dump sites," Williams says. "We want people to know that these places don’t offer legitimate study aids."
"Always start on the certification vendor's site to see what 'official' or 'recommended' products are available. Most vendors provide excellent links to resources you can trust,” Ripley says. And trust can be an issue where the brain dump sites are concerned. "You have to question the morals of a company that would sell stolen intellectual property," he adds. "Why would you give them your credit card number and other personal information? No one knows what they are going to do with it. This could easily be an avenue for identity theft."
Resources that CertGuard does recommend include E-Learning from Microsoft, Cisco Network Academy and Cisco Press and CompTIA career development programs.
Of course, there are people who have unwittingly used illicit content to prepare for an exam, and they don't realize it until taking the test. Ripley advises these students to stop taking the test and tell the proctor what has happened. "Students who acknowledge their inadvertent cheating should be commended," Ripley says. "The vendors should give these students a voucher to take a future exam for free for being honest about using brain dump materials. If students knew they wouldn't lose money or be penalized in any way by the vendor, they might be encouraged not to cheat."
For those test takers who don't stop, chances are good that the test metrics will flag their results as suspect, and they could be penalized to the full extent of the vendor's security policy.
Training and experience are important prerequisites for certification. "We strongly recommend that candidates interested in taking our exams in pursuit of certification attend the associated training course," says Julieann Scalisi of Citrix. "We also recommend that candidates obtain a certain level of hands-on experience with our products after attending training but before sitting for an exam."
She adds that book knowledge alone is not sufficient for passing a certification exam. "This helps increase the value of our certifications in that those companies seeking certified professionals know that candidates that have earned their Citrix certification legitimately will have the skills needed to be successful in their jobs."