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How IT pros cheat on certification exams

Discussion in 'News' started by nugget, Feb 18, 2011.

  1. nugget
    Honorary Member

    nugget Junior toady


    How IT pros cheat on certification exams

    Incidents of cheating on IT certifications are on the rise, a trend that experts say is an outward sign of the desperation felt by out-of-work and under-employed IT professionals.
    Training organizations are responding by intensifying their efforts to catch cheaters through cutting-edge defenses, such as biometric identification of test-takers and custom, computer-generated exams.

    Read more here

    Courtesy of invierno for the find
    Certifications: A+ | Network+ | Security+ | MCP (270,271,272,290,620) | MCDST | MCTS:Vista
    WIP: MCSA, 70-622,680,685


    1. teixeira.jpt
      Cheating doesn't get you far. Most jobs do a technical exam if you don't know your stuff you still don't get a job
    2. Theprof
      Good find nugget!

      To be honest, it's sad that it gets to this point, because although the unemployed need to survive, their approach on cheating on the exam affects the rest of us... I don't think that cheating will ever stop and as years pass, companies like Microsoft and CompTIA hopefully with create exams that are harder to cheat to discourage cheaters.
    3. BosonMichael
      Good find - repped.

      To me, this part was the most disturbing:

    4. GSteer
      Looks like they weren't actually talking to Professionals.
    5. neil987
      Isn't one of the problems to do with the exams and their answers.

      I was told that for question X the answer is always B every time it crops up. If the answers were randomised then surely this would cut the chances of getting it right for those who do not know what the right answers are from whatever source but just knowing the letter to choose when question X comes up.

      At least it would mean everyone would know some of what was being examined unlike pure brain dumpers who just recognise a load of questions and the relevant letter of the answers to put as correct.

      I believe this is mainly a Microsoft issue and other companies do randomise the letter of the correct answers.
    6. michael78
      "But Microsoft is using some high-tech methods to catch cheaters. The newest method is a data forensics program that identifies patterns indicative of cheating and piracy. Unusual response times or “aberrant” responses can indicate fraud"

      To me this statement is a very scary how can they possibly tell from this. It's bull that it's fool proof and will lead to false positives that could lead to ruining peoples careers.

      To me the biggest problem is with multichoice exams. In their nature you don't know every answer and some you guess randomly and some you guess as you know the other answers are blatantly wrong. Do Microsoft ring you to quiz you and if you don't know why you choose that answer do you get banned? If for example I got banned how are you meant to fight it as Joe Public doesn't have the resources to do so it's game over and bye bye career. This is why I think MS need to move to a exam that is heavily based on simulations. I think it's more obvious that cheating occurs if they record the session (not saying it can't been fooled but it's better than multichoice in my opinion). I also think it would be good if at the end of the exam if the exam randomly asked you to explain your answer on 5-6 questions. I personally think this would stamp out a lot of cheating in the knowledge you could be asked to explain your choices.

      More importantly if someone is accused of cheating it HAS to be proved. People are different and some people fly through exams and polish off 3+ in a week like some of the guys on here so I would be worried to do that in the future.
    7. soundian
      The article says "can indicate fraud", not that it does indicate fraud.
      They couldn't possibly prove anything with the data, and especially not based on only one exam of around 50 questions.
      I imagine they will use this method to flag up people who might bear further investigation so they can target their resources more effectively.
    8. Phoenix
      they would hate me
      i can answer the questions before most people read the full paragraph of spiel :)
      but yeah they would use it as an indicator, lots of factors will play, and you wont get an automatic ban/you cheated, you will usually have to prove yourself on a proctored test or something
    9. BosonMichael
      Yes, they do ring you, but from what I heard, they don't ask you why you chose one answer over another. However, let's assume that they did ask exactly that. Your responses should indicate to them whether you truly know your stuff or not.

      But see, they're not gonna call you up because you've guessed a bunch of questions correctly... unless you've miraculously guessed EVERY answer correctly. What I've heard is that they will call you up to ask you questions regarding the subject matter to determine whether you're really a prodigy or not. If someone answers everything correctly on the live exam, but has considerable trouble with similar questions on the same subject, then it's likely that they braindumped.

      Unfortunately, simulations can be braindumped just as easily as multiple choice questions can. After all, CCIE dumps exist.

      How would recording a simulator session be any more accurate at finding cheaters? They'd still be looking for the same criteria as they currently do with multiple choice questions: recording mouse movements, mouse clicks, and duration of time spent on each question.

      There's another way that can multiple choice exam cheaters can be caught that simulator cheaters can't... and it's a method that I suspect Microsoft and Cisco use. I have only circumstantial evidence that they employ it... but in case they do, I don't want to publicly reveal the method, as then braindumpers would attempt a workaround. However, for those who are interested (and who I know to be trustworthy), I would be willing to privately discuss it with them.

      That could be done, but doing so would require those exams to be manually proctored, which would increase the exam cost. And it wouldn't really stamp out cheating - what if I didn't answer those 5 questions correctly (or didn't answer them at all), but got the other 45 right? Would it be fair to fail me despite getting 90% of the questions right?

      No, it doesn't have to be proved at all. It's their certification program... they hold the reins, and they can do what they want with it. It's not a government program where they'd have to prove in a court of law that someone cheated in order to decertify them.

      For what it's worth, I don't think they go around willy-nilly decertifying people who fly through exams and/or get perfect scores. In the two instances I've heard accounts of, both individuals were questioned and subsequently cleared. And in their cases, neither individual had cheated.
    10. BosonMichael
      On some exams, answers ARE randomized. However, it doesn't cut down on cheating much, because braindumpers don't usually just remember the letter: "Choice B for the subnetting question". There are far too many questions to memorize letters effectively, because the questions aren't presented in the same order (if they were, they WOULD just remember something like AABDBCAB). So they usually remember the answer text.
    11. JonnyMX
      Interestingly enough, the Open University is trying out 'free text' questions in their CMAs.
      It's just a trial at the moment, but basically they ask a question and tell you to answer it in 30 words or less.

      Ultimately they will be marked electronically, and they also get checked against a plagarism filter to make sure you're not just reeling off someone else's work.

      That way you can't learn which multiple choice answers are correct, or click your way through an answer. You also can't just remember someone else's answer and reel it off.

      It's not a perfect solution, but it may open up some interesting possibilities.
    12. michael78
      Well to me that proves my point that if MS can ban you without proving your guilty then it's a very slippery slope and could end careers based on what the software flags up.
    13. soundian
      Do you really think litigious American citizens are going to let them ruin their careers without proof? They could get quite a heavy pay-out for loss of earnings etc.
      MS will have proof good enough for court before they strip anyone's credentials. Imagine the bad publicity if they didn't.
    14. BosonMichael
      Yup. And if it's happened yet, nobody's yelled loud enough for anyone to hear. With today's connected society, I'm sure we'd have heard cries of "UNJUST DECERTIFICATION!" by now if it were happening.

      In truth, I don't think MS is being aggressive enough towards cheaters.
    15. soundian
      That's the real problem in my opinion. I've never heard of anyone being decertified. This is strange because, people being people, there are bound to be some braindumpers who get caught who don't believe MS have a strong enough case and will spam the entire internet with their protestations of innocence.
    16. BosonMichael
      Although I don't know anyone personally who has been decertified, I've heard of people being decertified. Problem is, the numbers (even the "official numbers" by Microsoft, back when they used to release them) were shockingly low.
    17. JonnyMX
      I think that the main problem is that MS is not an educational establishment despite whatever they say. They are a product supplier - as such, their 'students' are also their customers, and we all know that you don't do anything to upset your customers.

      And for every certified individual out there, you've got another person buying, recommending and using your products. In a business sense, does it really matter to you how good these people are? (after all, you're not a regulated educational establishment). But it does mean an awful lot of people out there with your logo all over their t-shirts - and even better, they paid to put it there!

      So, I think there is always going to be a conflict of interests there that will never be properly resolved.

      MS learning don't even get an office in the Reading buildings... :cry:
    18. Mariusz
      prepare to call me troll Guys :-)

      while I was doing IT Certs I was never cheating, always learning, same with post graduate H&S studies (which I really enjoyed, and I can say it was the most interesting education in my life) I did few years ago. When you like something, then it is easier to learn.

      But there are many factors that "force" people to cheat:
      - lack of time to prepare, example: a child crying all the time when you come back home tired, wife doing you headache - after 8-9 hrs at work plus lets say 1 hr of traveling makes it very difficult to learn
      - not enough time to prepare: let's say that you have deadline given by your employer, and it is not long enough (look above), you have family, you need to help your child to do homework, you need to wash dishes after dinner etc and you won't start learning at 11pm when you have to wake up at 6am
      - not having some certs may affect your job and you can't learn properly because or examples mentioned above - for example company is doing redunancies, and people without certs are the first at the door out

      I could give much more examples like above, but I think you get the point. In certain situations almost everybody would cheat. It is easy to learn when you don't have kids, when stress level at work is low, and your partner understands you, but in situation when life kicks your butt all the time (family problems, job related problems, personal problems) and or you'll certify more or you'll loose your job you would cheat and you'd say: I have one life, and I want to live it.

      Hopefully I won't have to cheat, but If my career/life will depend on it I will (and most of you as well even if you won't admit it)
    19. michael78
      I think unfortunately there is a lot of pressure on people in the modern world and IT is a very difficult career for a lot of people due to various factors like geographical location, family etc. Pressure certainly makes people cheat for sure. I've certainly been kept back because of the area I live as there isn't a good supply of IT jobs so for everyone that comes up the pressure is on to get the job. This is where I think people get desperate and start doing an MCSE in 4 weeks and then completely fail as they learn nothing from doing it as they think having the letter MCSE on their CV looks good. Learning should be all about just that learning and taking your time learning and going about it in a sensible way. My view on it is that if I was to cheat and not learn what I was doing an exam on then I wouldn't be able to utilize those skills and there would be no point. I do understand why some people do it when say their job is on the line or pressure at work and I'm just glad I haven't been put in that position.

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