Hate to break it to you, but most certification holders have used brain dump web sites and taken vendor-approved courses that essentially teach to the test since the early 1990s. This practice has, as you've observed first-hand, led to a dilution in the value of many certifications. Don't feel too bad though. The organization which currently employs me insists on hiring people with little or no real world technical skills to support large-scale financial market regulatory and compliance systems written primarily for a UNIX environment. "How do I find the log file for the process that just failed? I have the path and file name." is heard all too frequently.