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52% the first time, 93% today!

 
Matt Hicks
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I'm really excited. I'm looking for a job and all my recent work experience is in Objective-C and WebObjects. I felt like I needed the certification to prove that I could be a Java programmer and I wanted a high score for emphasis. I felt like I was well prepared when I took the test on September 11, but I only scored 52%. At the time, I wasn't aware of all the online resources and hadn't done any mock exams except for the two that came in the books I was using. Those were "The Complete Java 2 Certification Study Guide" (Roberts, Heller, Ernest) and "Sun Certified Programmer for Java 2" from Syngress. I don't think too highly of the former as a standalone guide; I think the Syngress volume is much better at calling out the picky sorts of questions that the test deals in.
Of course, the test engine on the Syngress CD is utter garbage for several reasons:
1) Many of the answers are wrong.
2) Nearly all of the questions appear as Test Yourself questions at the end of the chapters, so you already know the answers by the time you try the test on the CD.
3) Many questions don't display properly, so you can't answer them.
4) The graphics in the page layout interfere with the display of the text.
Anyway, after I failed the first time, I came online to see if there were any resources to help me prepare for taking the test again. That's when I found this site. My main uses of the Ranch were looking at this forum for solace and inspiration; doing the Rules Roundup game for practice; and using the list of mock exams to test myself daily. I also printed out the list of test tips and read through that a couple of times. Interestingly, I have never had a score above about 83% on any of the practice exams, although that's at least in part because I always have the TV on and other distractions while I'm taking them. I did get 100% in the Rules Roundup once.
The first time I took the test, I remember looking at the code samples and thinking, "I don't know what I'm supposed to be looking for here." I had no idea at the time how many rules and subtleties of the language there were that I had either never come across, or that hadn't registered as being important when I read them. (That's my first piece of advice -- read every sentence of the preparation guides as though you expect a question specifically on that sentence; the chances are good that there will be one.) But after taking a dozen (maybe dozens) of practice tests in the last 3 weeks, I'd learned most of the pitfalls. Today I looked at the code samples and would think almost instantly, "Oh, static local variable" or "No default superclass constructor" and so on.
I finished the first pass in about 75 minutes, going very slowly and carefully and marking roughly a quarter of the questions for review. Then I went back and looked at all the marked questions again, changing a couple of answers in the proces. I then went back to the beginning of the test and reviewed every question again from the beginning. Again I changed a few answers, but only when I found something that I had missed that I knew changed my original answer, or when I happened to remember some rule that I had forgotten the first time through.
In the end, I had 100% in all but four categories: 88% in Language fundamentals (embarrassing), 85% in Operators and Assignments (also sort of embarrassing), 85% in Threads (a big improvement) and 80% in the java.io Package (up from 0% in the last go round and not bad for something I haven't really used).
Anyway, that's my story. Oh, I'm going to contact Sun to see if I can get a refund on my first exam. First, it was the morning of September 11 -- if it had been scheduled for the next day, I definitely would have postponed it. Second, the test engine crashed in the middle of the exam and I had to leave the room and get someone from the testing center to reboot the machine. Third, a little bit later, one of the exam center personnel came to ask me if it was my cell phone that wouldn't stop ringing in the outer office -- it wasn't.
Good luck to everyone who has yet to take the exam. I can tell you that just passing it is a real feeling of accomplishment. And thanks to those who keep this site humming -- I will continue to visit and contribute when I can.
Matthew Hicks, SCJP!!! (finally)
 
jawwadahmed
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Congratulations..............
Well doneWish u GoodLuck FOR Future
 
Anonymous
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Congrats! Matt. Good Luck.
 
Padmaja Balaji
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Job Well Done. Congrats !
Padmaja
 
shailesh sonavadekar
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that is absolutely fantastic. really great to hear that. I hink your story will be inspirational to others. See learning from the mistakes is life. We have to go ahead & correct the mistakes. You have done exactly that. Great . All the very best for the future. I hope you will be active helping other javaranchers.
Your Friendly Bartender
Shailesh.
 
Ashik Uzzaman
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Congrats Matt, excellllllent job done!
We face some people here who couldn't pass at first attempt and don't give up (think abt Marcus Green). U'll be a model to them....from 52 to 93...gr8, share a shampane with me!

....the test engine crashed in the middle of the exam and I had to leave the room and get someone from the testing center to reboot the machine.

Particularly disgusting to know ur sad experience at the first time... :... as i have a similar experience....u may c my one at....
http://www.javaranch.com/ubb/Forum44/HTML/001127.html

------------------
Muhammad Ashikuzzaman (Fahim)
Sun Certified Programmer for the Java� 2 Platform
--When you learn something, learn it by heart!
[This message has been edited by Ashik uzzaman (edited October 07, 2001).]
 
leena rane
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Congrats Matt,
U R great
this would be very inspiring for all.
 
Muhammad Farooq
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Congrats Matthew.
--Farooq
 
Dave Vick
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Congrats and way to stay with it and get what you wanted.
Best of luck for your future

------------------
Dave
Sun Certified Programmer for the Java� 2 Platform
 
Jane Griscti
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Congratulations Matt
 
Donald Nunn
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Great explanation, Matt and congrats.
Donald
 
Puneet Narang7
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Thats what the great stuff is made of!
Hats off to you Matts.
Puneet
 
Valentin Crettaz
Gold Digger
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Good job Matt
------------------
Valentin Crettaz
Sun Certified Programmer for Java 2 Platform
 
Matt Hicks
Greenhorn
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Thanks for all the congratulatory messages. Now I just wish passing the test was actually helping me land a job, but so far it seems to have had no effect. I didn't expect offers to come pouring in, but I thought that I might at least get a call on one or two of the Java positions that I've been applying for.
BTW, I just posted some study/exam tips in the SCJP Study forum. I think I have a somewhat different style of studying and exam taking than do some, and I'm hopeful that my perspective may help some people in their preparation.
Thanks again for support and for the Java Ranch Web site.
- Matt Hicks
 
Paul Stevens
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Keep trying Matt. When I landed mine years ago I must have sent out 100-200 resumes. Wasn't hearing anything from anyone. Then accepted 3 different positions within 2 months. Timing is everything and right now isn't great in certain areas.
 
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