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How to effectively learn and use OO, Patterns

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I have around 6 to 8 months of experience. I am into Java, J2EE.
I have done SCJP 96%, SCWCD 97%.

My question is how can I learn OO, Patterns and other techniques and use it or make it effective. Senior people in my workplace say it comes with experience.
I agree but I still want to try and learn.

I have started learning from Head First Design Pattern.

So please suggest me how should I go about it and how I can make it useful and practical and not only theorotical learning.
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Try to join or establish a study group - I have done that a couple of years ago at work, and it was great. See

Other than that, try things with courage and reflect on how it went. Read a lot - books, articles, discussion groups etc. pp. Ask questions on forums like this one.

Practice, practice, practice. And be patient. You've done the first steps already, like reading head first and joining JavaRanch. You will do well!
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