Certification Exams, NDAs, and Responsible Behavior

Based on some recent events, I find it necessary to post this as a notification to all those who take certification exams.  This applies to certifications across different vendors, not just Microsoft.

During the opening screens of the exam, before you reach the actual question portion, a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is presented.  Like most exam candidates, myself included, the thought process is to get to the exam content so you can complete the exam, get your score, and get out the door and back to your busy work life.  This is a normal and accepted behavior and I’m not advocating a change on that aspect.

What I am posting about is reading, understanding, and adherence to the NDA.  If you are not sure what it is or what is contained in it, take the time on at least one exam to read it completely.  Essentially, by clicking the Accept button on that screen, you are agreeing to a legally binding document.  So, in a nutshell, what are you agreeing to?

In essence, you are agreeing that when you have completed taking the exam, you will NOT discuss with anyone, at anytime, in any forum, in any form whatsoever, what was covered on the exam.  You are not permitted to discuss the content of the questions in any form.  The only content you are permitted to discuss is what is publicly available in the form of exam preparation guides.  The content on the exam is intellectual property and is owned by the exam provider such as Microsoft.

Exam developers like Cisco, CompTIA, Microsoft, Oracle, etc. spend considerable time, effort, and cost to create certification exams and the content that is required to adequately test candidates on the material necessary to achieve the certification.  This effort helps to ensure that the certification you acquire when passing the exam(s) provides you with a valid measure of your skill and knowledge for that technology. 

By talking openly on what the content of the exam is, you are in essence making it easier for those who come after you to pass the exam without really knowing the content.  You also make it easier for the brain dump sites to get a head start on what the exam covers.   By not discussing the content of the exam with anyone, you help to ensure the validity and value of the certification you just earned.

Certification providers include in the NDA the fact that if you are caught divulging this information, you can lose your credential and become banned from further certifications.  They are within their rights to enforce this although I am not aware of Microsoft doing this in the time I have been here.   If you value your certifications and want them to continue to hold value in the industry, you need to partner with your certification organization to help prevent piracy and ensure that those who achieve the certification, actually deserve it.

Comments and questions welcome.