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Success is relative. It is what we can make of the mess we have made of things. - T. S. Eliot
The Value of IT Certifications

Written by
Robert Williams
March 24, 2007

Until now it was possible for candidates in the United States (and other countries) to have exams taken for them in countries other than their own. Gunmen, located half way around the world, were able to take tests for people that paid the outrageous prices they were asking. Now, that is all over...

The primary reason CertGuard was created was to increase the value of IT Certifications. But before we could actually set about increasing their value, we had to stem the factors that were steadily leading to degradation of the IT certifications and their associated worth. One of the items on our list of things to accomplish is to stop the gunmen from taking 'proxy-tests' for candidates that are too lazy to take the exams themselves.

What are proxy-tests and why do they concern us? Well, simply put, a proxy-test is an exam taken by someone posing as a legitimate test taker. 'Gunmen', as they are commonly referred, are making large amounts of cash off of this illicit service that they provide. One major reason the gunmen were soliciting services outside their own country was because of the currency exchange rates given by the US Dollar. For an accurate cash flow analysis and the exchange rate, see our article on Gunmen Domain Hosts

There are many ways that gunmen solicit their services, their most common means of communication is via many of the online NNTP servers. Newsgroup readers around the world are disgusted by the fact that these 'posts' often don't get filtered or removed from the servers, and are quite often left to sit for years, allowing hundreds of thousands of people to stumble upon their illicit content. Other gunmen actually have websites that can be found with the correct terminology in your favorite search engine. No, of course we're not going to give that information out.

Initiating contact with a gunman was actually quite easy, I have personally done it numerous times. In order to gain the trust of the gunman I would usually have to add them to one of my many messenger alias' and let them contact me at their own discretion. There were often times that I wouldn't even hear from them, so I would just delete the account and create a new one. Our conversations would last between 1 and 6 weeks before he actually felt that I was a good enough (or maybe stupid enough) candidate to take a test for.

Once the gunmen took the tests for my many aliases, they would send me a link to the Prometric website so that I could log in and check the results of the false name that I provided them with. Often they would even send me a falsified PDF of the Score Sheet with my fake name and the information of a testing center here in the United States.

Everyone knows the repercussions of someone else taking an exam for you. If you don't know, please review our page dedicated to Gunmen. When it comes down to it though, you don't have the knowledge, the training, or the experience to work in a field that you're claiming to have that knowledge in, and you've pretty much ruined it for the people that do.

The good news is... To help in our fight, Microsoft has taken a huge step in Exam Security by preventing foreign test takers in India and China from taking Microsoft Exams.

CertGuard and Microsoft are working on ways to prevent gunmen from operating altogether, but that problem is a bit more difficult to attack.

Note: As of April 1, 2007,
only Indian citizens will be permitted to register for exams in our India test centers.

Yes, this means that American Citizens will not even be allowed to take exams while visiting those countries. It's a small price to pay, but at least you now know that your Certifications are not being devalued by gunmen and the cheaters that buy into their services.

This does not, however, affect the legal residents of those countries, legal residents of India will still be able to take exams in India, and the same goes for China. This only means that Pakistani citizens will not be allowed to take their exams in India, just as Korean citizens will not be allowed to take their exams in China. This does mean that the gunmen's services will be reduced to taking exams for legal residents of their respective countries. So, the battle has not been completely won, but the enemy is hurting.

Now, our fight to increase the value of IT Certifications has been elevated to the next level. Now CertGuard can focus on educating people about the perils of using braindumps and we help provide a place where individuals can turn to find the information they need in order to EARN their IT Certifications.
Robert Williams
CEO, Founder
CertGuard, Inc.
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Gavin Smith left us a comment on 3/26/2007

I have just read your article.

Specifically this bit: *Note:* As of April 1, 2007, only Indian citizens will be permitted to register for exams in our India test centers.

I am a British citizen, and have just booked training for an MCSE 2003 bootcamp in India with Koenig Solutions. This is including the Microsoft exams.

Now it looks like that trip will be wasted if I can't take the Exams as I am going through the training, and if I cancel now I will lose my deposit and plane tickets. This will cost me personally about #1000. That's not really something I'm happy about.

I am really really pissed off that this change has been made without any earlier announcement, and without a change over period for people who, like me, have already booked flights and training in India.

I have always studied hard for my certifications, in my own time and at my own expense. I can't afford to pay the exorbitant fees charged for training in London.

I work full time in IT and I would like to get ahead in my Career, but now, with IT certifications de-valued to the point where you need an MCSE to get an interview for a desktop support role and the cost of training through the roof it looks like the only ones who are getting ahead are the cheater and braindumpers who cut the time, effort and cost out of getting certified.

I am hoping that this decision will be reversed, so that I can go ahead with the Bootcamp in India. Otherwise I will have to try another country where cheaper training is available.

Gavin Smith

Robert Williams left us a comment on 3/27/2007
Gavin, I'm sorry this has caused you troubles, it was bound to have happened to someone that is looking to legitimately get certified. Although I don't understand the logic of flying thousands of miles to save a few dollars, I'm sure there are many other reasons you're doing it. You are truly 1 in a Million...the other 999,999 can't be trusted, yet.

I suggest contacting Microsoft to debate your situation and see if they will allow you to take the exams in a foreign country. You can find the contact information on this page: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcpexams/status/retired.mspx

Here is the page that will direct you to your Regional Service Centers: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/support/worldsites.mspx

Good luck

Robert Williams

Gavin Smith left us a comment on 3/31/2007
Hi Robert

I've been in contact with Microsoft, and they have confirmed that I will be able to take the exams in India, I just have to provide details to them before hand.

The cost for a 14 day MCSE bootcamp in the UK is about #7000, while a 50 day (38 days of actual training, plus 12 days for exams and practice) MCSE bootcamp in India is #2980. Both include accommodation and food; in fact if you stay in a budget hotel in Delhi the price is #2070.

Flights are an extra #500 to India, but I'm going to India on my way back to Australia, so I'd have to pay something like that for flights anyway.

The logic is that it's half the price, and gives you more time to study and take everything in. #3,500 is a significant amount of money, that's over US$6000. You also get a chance to visit another country for a while.

I think that the cost of training, and most company's lack of interest in developing their own employee's skills is a significant factor in motivating people to cheat to gain certifications. Countries like India and South Africa have plenty of people with the English language and IT skills to carry out training at a significantly lower cost than in the US and UK, and I think that this should be encouraged.

I am 100% behind making IT certifications more respected and secure, so I totally understand Microsoft's changes, but I think that the answer is more security and stricter proof that the person sitting the exams is who they say they are. Also that employers take to time and effort to verify that prospective employees have the qualifications that they say they do.

Anyway, this is what Microsoft have asked me for to prove that I'll be taking the exam myself in India:

In order to better address security issues regarding the issue of proxy testing in India, we now require the following information for all non-Indian Candidates who wish to take Microsoft exams in our India test centers.

The candidate must email the following information to (email address removed):

  1. Scanned copy of the candidate's passport including:

    1. Page which displays the candidate's picture.

    2. Stamped visa that displays the candidate's entry into India.

  2. Complete the following information:

    1. Candidate's Name

    2. Country of Citizenship

    3. Address and contact details in origin country

    4. Temp Address and contact details in India

    5. Courses Registered, if applicable

    6. Duration

    7. Start date of course

    8. End date of course

    9. Expected date(s) of taking exam

    10. Test Center Location Code

So it looks like everything is Ok for me, I was really stressing out about this.

Gavin Smith

Robert Williams left us a comment on 4/1/2007
Gavin, I'm glad everything has worked out. I can definitely see the point of your travels to India for this. To save that much money makes it all worth going after, and if all you have to do is provide documentation of entrance into the country, you've got it made.

From the looks of it, the information I was provided is sort of misleading. I'll have to work on exposing this information.

Thanks for your help Gavin

Robert Williams

Robert Williams left us a comment on 4/1/2007
As you can plainly see, it is still possible for foreign nationals to take exams in India, Pakistan, and China. The only difference now is that Microsoft has made it a manditory requirement for individuals to provide legal documentation.

However, everyone knows that this can be worked around. Forgery of legal documents is a practice nearly as old as the documents themselves.

One aspect of Exam Security should be that the person taking the exam is exactly the person they claim they are. So how do we propose to make this happen? Thumbprint scanners? Retina scanners? DNA Matches? Be assured, CertGuard is working on a solution.

There are a few good institutes in India…

IT Bootcamps India left us a comment on 8/12/2008
There are a few good institutes in India that have excellent bootcamps. One good option would be karrox technologies. It has a good reputation and track record. Plus, it is a Microsoft Gold partner.

Re: There are a few good institutes in India…

Robert Williams left us a comment on 8/12/2008

Thanks for your input and thank you for bringing them to our attention. You can find Karrox.com on two of our pages here.







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