Cisco takes steps to combat cheating

In a recent eight month test period Cisco has discovered that 1 in every 200 exams monitored was taken by a proxy, and not the actual enrollee…

Yesterday Cisco officially launched a number of new security enhancements to its exams, including:

  • Photo on Score Report and Web – On completion of a certification exam at the test center, candidates will receive preliminary score reports imprinted with their photos and unique authentication codes. The authentication code can be used to access a candidate’s official score online at Pearson VUE’s website usually within 72 hours of the examination. The online score report will also display the candidate’s photo. Candidates may share access to their online records with employers or other third parties.
  • Forensic Analysis – Exam results and other testing data will be continuously analyzed by forensic software to detect aberrant testing behavior and to flag suspect exams for further investigation. When problems are identified with the validity of a test result, the candidate’s score will be invalidated. Depending on the exact issue with the flagged exam, further consequences may range from having to retake the exam to the imposition of a one-year or lifetime testing ban.
  • Forensic Analysis – Exam results and other testing data will be continuously analyzed by forensic software to detect aberrant testing behavior and to flag suspect exams for further investigation. When problems are identified with the validity of a test result, the candidate’s score will be invalidated. Depending on the exact issue with the flagged exam, further consequences may range from having to retake the exam to the imposition of a one-year or lifetime testing ban.

I must say that Im really excited about all of these new enhancements, for a long time now I’ve felt that my certifications were being devalued by the many braindumpers out there. Finally it appears that things are changing and that hard work, experience and integrity will matter again. Personally there are two more enhancement I would like to see though, and that relates to exam content and the style of questioning. I believe that the best way to combat braindumpers, in addition to the new enhancements would be to make the following changes to the current exams:

  • Large Pool of questions – Have a pool of several hundred questions, they dont all have to be totally different, but some of the variables need to be changed. (Eg: What would ‘ip access-group FILTER-FTP in’ accomplish in a given scenario, and What would ACL ‘ip access-group FILTER-FTP out’ accomplish, are two very different questions and would help prevent individuals from just memorizing questions and answers.
  • More Simulations, testing a candidates knowledge of the related theory is definitely important, but more scenario based questioning (essentially applied theory questions) might prove a better way of testing a candidates knowledge. (Eg: ‘In the above scenario Switch-A has been selected the Root Bridge, even though Switch-B has a lower MAC Address. How did the network engineer accomplish this?’)

If you would like to read more about these new enhancements and the results of Cisco’s recent trials, take a look at this great article from the Boston Globe

http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2008/07/22/study_confirms_widespread_cheating_on_job_exams/

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~ by networkingza on August 2, 2008.

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