Hi All As you can imagine, I'm very relieved and totally pleased with the result. I'd like to share my experience Exam Preparation 1. The first thing I did was get a copy of the Sun Certified Programmer and Developer Study Guide by Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates. (and if you do the same, then I'd say you're already a few steps ahead of the rest). I went through each chapter very thoroughly, TWICE, taking the self-tests as I went along. When I had finished, I reread the book again, and then went through the "exam watch" tips and "two minute drills" again, just to be extra sure. 2. I signed onto Javaranch and began participating in the forum discussions - A tremendous learning experience. 3. A started to work through the various free mock exams. Some are great, some are difficult, and some are awful (i.e. not very well worded and constructed). All of them helped me to discover my strengths and weeknesses, and to take action accordingly. I found Dan Chisholm's mocks to be the most difficult, but also the most impressive because, although they are more difficult than the real exam, they make really you think and question, and the explanations provided in the answers are excellent. 4. I did a lot of coding. A LOT !!!. If I had any doubts or questions that could be cleared up by creating coded examples, then that's exactly what I did. 5. I made notes. If I came across anything which I felt was important and was something I could possibly forget, I wrote it down. I revised these notes several times during my preparation. The Exam 1. I spent the day before the exam by revising the watchpoints and summaries in the Sierra/Bates Book, and then had a relaxing evening in front of the telly. 2. I had a bit of a lie in on the day of the exam and tried to stay as relaxed as possible. I didn't go anywhere near my desk, didn't touch my computer, didn't touch my study guide or my notes. 3. I arrived at the exam venue approximately 30 minutes before my exam was scheduled, and after a few formalities like signing the register, I was allowed to start a little early. 4. The computer presented me with a couple of surveys to complete before the exam commenced. With hindsight this was a good thing for me as it helped me settle in a little. Plus the time given to complete the surveys (about 15 mins in total) was independent of the exam time, so no need to stress about that. 5. I got stuck into the exam. I read the exam assumptions page attentively, even though the clock began to tick because I wanted to be sure of the assumptions that need to be made when taking the exam. I was still pretty stressed during the first 10 questions, but began to settle down after that. 6. I marked all questions that had long and possibly complicated code exhibits and decided to return to them at the end of the exam. I also marked the questions I felt unsure/uneasy about. Once I had made my first pass, I returned to the complicated looking questions and did them, and then revisited the rest of the marked questions. After I had done this I had approx. 15-20 minutes left. I then quickly went through all the questions again just to double check. time ran out as I was rechecking the last question. 7. During the exam I also drank a lot of water (I had to visit the toilet twice). I think it helped to clear my mind. Exam Tips 1. Get a handle on the scope and level of difficulty of the exam. I think the best way to do this is to get your hands on a copy of the Sierra/Bates book. The material and the self-tests/mock exams in the book are spot on. Mock exams and topics on the Javaranch Exam forum are very educational, but often topics that come up are way beyond the scope of the exam. So by all means indulge in these discussions and mocks because they will benifit you, but try not to lose focus. 2. Practice, practice, practice. Learn by doing. Code, compile, run. Take mock exams. Take notes. 3. Participate in the exam forum. Don't only ask questions, but try to answer them too. You'll be amazed at how trying to think things through will enlighten you. 4. Drink water. Drink it when you study. And if you feel the benifits, drink it when you take the exam too. 5. Don't panic. Try to relax. I recommend skipping/marking the really intimidating looking exam questions and leaving them for the end. If you tackle them early they could stress you out, and/or you could end up spending too much time on them. I found that after the first 10 questions I began to calm down quite a bit. 6. Read the questions CAREFULLY. then read the answers CAREFULLY, picking the one(s) you think are correct as you are reading. Then read all the answers you didn't choose and ask yourself why they are incorrect. 7. When revisiting questions: If you decide to change an answer, make sure you have a really valid reason for changing it i.e. don't do it just because you are unsure or stressed. I never changed a single one of my answers, but I was tempted. 8. RELAX. Even the difficult questions appear more difficult than they really are. Mock Exam Scores I didn't buy any mocks. Those listed below are all freely available. The scores are "first take" scores (I didn't count any questions that are not part of the 1.4 exam objectives) Marcus Green Mock 1:100% Marcus Green Mock 2: 90% Marcus Green Mock 3: 92% Dan Chisholms Exams(Average): 74% Sierra/Bates self-tests(Average): 86% Khalid Mughal's mock: 97% Chris Grindstaff's mock: 89% John Hunt's mock: 89% Valentin's mock: 70% JQPlus V4 trial: 88%
Finally Thanks Kathy and Bert for a great book. I thought studying for this exam was going to be a tedious chore. But your book quickly changed that perception. Thanks to all the forum participants and moderators. You all definitely enriched my learning experience, even if sometimes forum topics get a little cookoo (at this moment I'm thinking about a thread that discussed Pets and their Fur...). Hope the info was useful (and not too boring....zzzzzz). Best of luck to you all Rory (Your forever loyal brother of the cult of the flea-bitten moose head trophy thingy)
very very very nicely done -- excellent tips too. But in keeping with policy... and the fact that this is turning into a "congrats" post -- I'm moving this to the Sun Certification Results Forum -- please continue the well deserved congratulations there.
Thanks everyone for the kind words Regarding my preparation time (Samatha and Paul) : I studied for this exam over a three month period for between 3 and 5 hours a day on weekdays. However, I do think I could have taken the exam sooner and still achieved a good score. I should add that I have been teaching myself Java as a hobby for over a year(but I was shocked at how much I did not know when I started to prepare for the exam), and I have several years programming experience (although not using OOP technologies). Hope this helps Rory p.s. Samatha, take a few deep breaths and stop stressing