Born To Learn Blog

Born To Learn Blog

Why Brain Dumps Are Bad


I often see or hear of requests on forums and social media sites asking for “answers to exam xxx” or “where are the best brain dumps?” A lot of these requestors just want an easy way to pass an exam without working for it and know full well what they’re doing. Some actually want training material or practice items, and don’t realize what they are asking for. And, some want brain dump material, but don’t realize why asking for it is a bad idea.

So what is a brain dump, and why do we care? A “brain dump” is a term commonly used for a site or material where real exam questions and answers are provided (in most cases, for a fee). The promise to a user is that by memorizing the answers, one can pass the exam. Brain dumps are not legitimate training or test prep resources for two reasons. First, no legitimate training or test prep site will have the actual test questions and answers, because no IT certification programs  voluntarily release them. Therefore, a brain dump with actual test questions and answers has obtained them nefariously, and by purchasing them, the purchaser is abetting in fraudulent activity. Secondly, and most importantly, by memorizing answers a test-taker has not learned the material, has not demonstrated competence in the content domain, and has not earned the certification legitimately, thereby diluting the hard work that the truly qualified have put forth to pass the exam.

How does one recognize brain dump material? Like I said, no legitimate training or test prep site will have the actual answers from a test. Look for promises like:

  • ·         Actual questions or answers
  • ·         100% real test questions
  • ·         Guarantees that you will have access to all test materials
  • ·         Claims that all you have to do is “memorize” the material to pass

The words “brain dump” are another sure way to know that the site isn’t on the up and up. The key is that if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

The best way to prepare for an exam is to find the right training: 

Use of brain dump material is a violation of our exam policy and can result in the loss of one's certification and a lifetime ban from Microsoft’s Certification Program. I won’t tell you how we know when someone has used a brain dump to pass an exam, but we know. While we work hard to prevent brain dumps from obtaining our material in the first place, and then removing it when it appears, we also put the responsibility on test-takers to act responsibly and with integrity. It’s important to everyone that those certification initials after one’s name were earned honestly.

Bottom line on using brain dump material? Don’t do it. It’s just not worth it.

Have a security concern you want to report to MSL? Email me at

  • fd9b1b44-377c-4cde-bb59-a2c4fb61a33b

    Nah... You still haven't explained why it is bad to those who is considering using them. "No legitimate", "diluting others' work"... All those will put some hate towards dumpers into the hearts of those who work hard, but not divert dumpers from using dumps.

    Even deflating the value of the certification itself won't make some of them think. So we need to think of more strong arguments, don't we?

  • Veronica Sopher - Microsoft
    | |

    @Alexander - I'm curious. What, in your opinion, is the real benefit for someone to obtain certifications by using brain dumps?

  • fd9b1b44-377c-4cde-bb59-a2c4fb61a33b

    There is none, and I am not the guy to persuade "not to use them". I'm, after all, MS MVP and have some certifications myself.

    Common reasons for using dumps I see and hear here and there are like:

    -I'm more confident when I use them (of course you are confident, you, !#$: you know all the answers ;) )

    -Learning is too much effort (as any deed which moves you towards proficiency. Next time try and get some money without working.)

    -I'll just see if I know enough to pass the exam and not to lose my money (yeah, you bet it's impossible by any other means, like learning more and testing with legitimate tests)

    -you name it...

    My point, though, was a bit different: those arguments you brought here won't make anyone who is going to use dumps thinking about the bad side, because what you mentioned is bad for those who don't use dumps, Microsoft and industry, not for those who do use them.

  • fd9b1b44-377c-4cde-bb59-a2c4fb61a33b

    Answering your question (sorry, it is long holiday here, so I'm relaxed... =) ): the real benefits are getting credentials without troubling the candidate and at first shot. It doesn't give much except one can post "I'm MCSE" in their resume, which, in turn, will give more chances to get through HR nets right into the first interview.

  • Sidney Andrews (Regional Lead - United States)

    I'm suprised that no-one has mentioned that the tests are updated constantly, randomized and have all sorts of measures to make brain dumps actually become less effective over time at preparing you.

    Also, isn't the new question types (less and less multiple choice) supposed to make brain dumps almost useless at this point.  I agree with Alexander, this article won't discourage anyone from using Brain Dumps or even be a blip on the radar of people who are legitimate.  Some heavier points can be made here.

  • Paul Willy
    | |

    In some cases Brain Dumps are a result of certification exams that go way off "the reservation".  This never makes them right, just understandable.  

    Listing the objectives for certification and developing "official courseware" to support those certifications implies that the exam will align with those objectives and topics that are taught in those classes.  As a 15+ year MCP, in addition to holding many other certifications from other organizations, I have found Microsoft to be the worst at testing on the stated objectives.  Microsoft can always hide behind the "additional practical experience" however if it is going to be tested, it should be in the book.

  • fd9b1b44-377c-4cde-bb59-a2c4fb61a33b

    Sidney, all these measures just aren't enough. Even CCIE labs are dumped, which are way more complex than any general MS exam (not MCA or MCM, probably).

  • Christopher Harrison
    | |

    Why are brain dumps bad? Because they damage my certification.

    For me, the reason I get certified is so I have a way of showing I have achieved a certain level of knowledge on a topic. I've taken an exam, passed an exam, and shown that I am qualified on product X. I've spent the time to study, to practice, to get hands on experience with the product, and the certification is one of the ways I can show to the world what I've achieved.

    But as long as dumps exist, they allow people to memorize enough questions and then go off and potentially pass the exam. This perpetuates the "MCSE = Must Consult Someone Else" stereotype. The value of my certification is inversely proportional to the number of "paper tigers" - those who passed the exam but don't actually know the product. People see the certification, remember the experience they had in the past with someone who wasn't qualified and immediately discount my certification.

    I take it personally when people use brain dumps. They're not just getting themselves past the exam, they're cheapening the certification for everyone, including me.

  • Anthony Wrigley
    | |

    I completely agree with Paul over the "reservation" of material. The hardest exam I have ever sat was the final Server 2003 MCSE exam in 2009, and this was after taking a week long course in 3 days so the Instructor could basically add a further 2 days of material "in the exam" but not covered by the course.

    The only thing that stopped me from being seriously tempted to dump this exam was the Microsoft Second Shot which allowed me to sit and resit if I failed.

    Brain Dumps are bad, there is no question. However it has become common knowledge that they are being used so companies like the one I work for look at the certifications and then proceed to interview assuming they have been dumped.

  • Butch Adams
    | |

    After studying about 50 hours for the SQL 70-432 exam, I barely passed it. It was the most difficult exam I have ever taken on any subject. I have been using MSSQL since 1998, so I am not a novice by any means. Right after I passed it, a principal in an ASP company we work with said she tells her people they might as well brain dump it because it is so hard. Needless to say, I make it loud and embarrasing if I find someone is thinking about using those things. It makes my cert feel diluted.

  • Jeff Wharton
    | |

    I'm a moderator on the MSDN Training and Certification forum and whenever someone posts a request for Brain Dump material, I send a copy of the thread plus whatever other relevant information I can find in their Windows Live account (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter accounts) to the Microsoft Learning - Security Team.  I then tell the OP that I've done this and lock the thread so they can't change/delete their question.  Will probably get "knocked-off" one day however It really urks me when people ask for dumps.;-)

  • Aljoscha Thelen
    | |

    I'd like to take Beta-Exams in the past, so nobody could call me a cheater, because there are no braindumps in this early state of a new certificate. Due to changes in the handling of Beta Exams it only are invited to one exam in the new round of Win 8 and Win 2012 exams.

    Some years ago, i think it was late 2008, there was an exam 070-113. This was a real virtual environment. Is there any chance to develop comming exams in this way? I have never heard any plans to do that after this single exam.

    In this kind od exams you have to know what to do, not memorize brain dumps.

  • Peter Read
    | |

    I agree with - the only real way to "prove" you aren't one of "these" is to pass the exam(s) in beta, before anyone would have had a chance to create these dirty things.

    Also - second shot is probably the best 'positive deterrent' to using them - I suspect that at least some people won't use them if they know they can retake if they fail (and will have at least gained an insight to any shortcomings or areas of weakness to know where to focus their actual further learning before retaking).  

    As an aside and re: 'hardest exam', try "windows internals" some time, that one gave me a bit of a heart attack :)

  • alin.selicean
    | |

    It's like taking a shower with all your clothes on. Simply do not worth it. One lies to himself that he's good at something. At most, at stealing / cheating.

  • rodrigo_peluffo
    | |

    Hello guys...

    I guess the main point to think is " after you get a MS Certification, let's suppose MCSE, you need to prove all knowledge that you is said to have. A few years ago, if you had a MCSE you had considered a monster with a lot of experience and knoledge. Ok so I get a new job, you need to prove because you have this title and lot of expectation over you... If you don't do it , peple think ... hmmm this guy is not so good as he needs to be, hmm there is something weird here, How can he hold this title?

    Basically, It's too easy note if a person is really or not a MCSE.

    Sorry guys my english is not so good I hope you all had understood me.

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