SAP Education has worked hard together with the Certification & Enablement Influence Council over the last 18 months to enhance the value of certification and improve the exams. An increasing number of customers and partners are now looking towards certification as a reliable benchmark to safeguard their investments. Of course, certification is just one of several criteria by which one can measure expertise; it cannot and should not be considered a sole marker of proficiency in an SAP solution. Real, hands-on project experience, years of acquired skills, educational background – – these remain at the top of the list of most hiring managers for organizations and project teams. So there is still work to be done, but the Global Certification team has achieved good results in 2012 by focusing on increasing the value of certification in a number of ways, including: tying our exams to valid job profiles; implementing industry standard production processes; and increasing our engagement with the SAP Mentors and the SCN community at large.
A caution against sharing exam questions
Unfortunately, the increased demand for certification has brought with it a growing number of people who to try and attain SAP certification through unfair means. I am talking about cases of cheating, using brain dumps to distribute exam questions, and even the efforts of some companies to turn this into a business opportunity: attracting test takers who don’t believe they have the skills and knowledge to pass the exam by fair means to pay money for “exam questions”. These are often either SAP’s own sample questions which are made freely available or outdated questions, but sometimes also real exam questions are exposed. 2012 has been a year of stark realization for the certification team in terms of discovering the lengths to which some test takers go to achieve SAP certification through unfair and unethical means. Any time a cheating incident goes undetected, we are potentially putting our customers at risk. Here’s a recent example that was detected though our test analytics team: a group of four test takers from the same institution all passed with very high scores but hit our “Watch List”. Based on the evidence, their certification was withheld and they were asked to take another version of the same exam. This time, they all failed. So in this case the cheaters “lost” and some fortunate customer(s) won; you can probably imagine how much damage these individuals could have done in a customer project.
Increased focus on test security
Over the years I have found that exam questions are also frequently passed on to others out of less selfish grounds – out of a sense of “doing the right thing”, helping a friend or colleague, or just out of a lack of awareness of the need for security and the consequences this can bring. I have also noticed that some people don’t even realize that they are risking their own certification status – and in severe cases, legal consequences – by distributing test questions based on the Certification Agreement they sign before taking their exam. Regardless of intentions, passing on exam questions puts our customers at risk and gives the less skilled an unfair advantage over those who work and learn hard to gain their certification.
Tackling the problem
This ongoing issue has prompted SAP Education to place a new focus on test security, and 2013 will be the year when all elements of test security will be very much at the forefront. This is a holistic approach which covers all elements of exam production and delivery. The Global Certification team have taken a long, hard look at every step of the process and tightened up wherever we felt it necessary. We will be working to ensure we reduce the amount of exam question “sharing” by helping people to understand the consequences of their actions; this blog is a first step in that direction. For another example of our approach in combatting dubious practices and raising awareness, see the blog http://scn.sap.com/community/training-and-education/blog/2012/09/19/sap-education-india-s-commitment-to-quality-ethics by Maggie Ramaiah.
We will be sharing updates with you on what we are doing, so we ask you to please support us where you can in protecting the integrity of our exams – for the sake of our customers and those who have worked hard to earn their certification status. If you become aware of any cases of exam question distribution, or if you observe activities during an exam which lead you to believe someone has cheated, please notify me directly. And please help us to spread the word on SCN that cheating on a certification exam brings no long term rewards to the test taker, their employers, or to their customers.