I passed the Java 5 exam on June 3, 2006 with a score of 68%.
While I am pleased with passing the exam, I probably could have had a higher score if it were not for the issues I experienced during the exam. Perhaps by sharing my experiences, I can save future test-takers the same grief that I went through.
First off, I was not given real paper and pencils. I was told by the test moderator that she could "get fired" if she did this. So instead, I was given 8.5 X 11 laminated sheets of paper, originally only two, until I asked for four. I was also given tissue paper and two dry-erase markers. One marker was a fine-tipped marker that was dried up, so it was useless. The second marker was a thick tip, so the notes I wrote came out as big, indecipherable blobs as I attempted to write small on the little, tiny sheets of laminated paper. My suggestion to future test takers would be: 1) ask for 8 sheets of laminated paper and 2) check ALL your markers before you click "START" on your exam and request different ones if necessary.
The second issue I had was with the drag and drop questions. There were 17 of them out of 72. Now, you probably already know that if you try to review your answers to the drag and drop questions, your answers get erased. What I didn't know and what turned out to be real nasty, is that if you just skip a drag and drop question with the intention of answering it later, it still marks the question as "being answered". Basically, when you get to a drag and drop question, you get a button that says "Task". Clicking on that button brings up a pop-up window with the drag and drop task. REGARDLESS of whether you actually complete that task or merely skip over it with the intention of coming back, when you return to that question, all you get is the "Task" button again. When you click on the "Task" button to review your answer, you get a warning which states that there is already an answer to this question, so if you wish to continue, you would have to redo the question and would you like to do this. There is NO WAY to tell if you actually answered that question or just skipped it, unless you review all your drag and drop questions and risk redoing all the ones you DID answer. My suggestion is this: write down the numbers of ALL the drag and drop questions and annotate (either with your laminated sheets of paper or with the "Comment" option that goes with each question)which ones you actually answered. What I did was, I basically took a gamble. I chose to spend the time I had left to review all my multiple-choice questions rather than risk redoing all my drag and drop questions. I guess the gamble paid off.
As far as studying for the exam, I spent about four months studying for the exam. I also have about 2 years of Java experience. I did use the Bert and Kathy book. I took the 3 mock exams from Sun and one mock exam from the B&K book. The B&K exam is much harder than the questions on the real exam. The Sun mock exams came closest to the format and difficulty of the real exam. The only problem I experienced is that there was no way for me to really practice any drag and drop type questions, because there were none of those on the Sun mocks and none off the CD from the B&K book. There were a few "fill in the blank" questions from the Self-Test portion of the B&K book that tried to simulate drag and drop, but that's about it.
Anyway, I'm happy to have passed the exam. I hope these tips will come in handy for some of you. Good luck! [ June 12, 2006: Message edited by: My-Linh Tran ]
We're glad the book helped, and I'm going to pass your concerns on to Sun - I hadn't heard about the issue of D&Ds being incorrectly marked before your post. Until this problem gets fixes this is a really valuable piece of information you've shared with everyone, thanks!
Spot false dilemmas now, ask me how!
(If you're not on the edge, you're taking up too much room.)
The Sun mock exams I took came directly from Sun. It comes in a package of 3 mock exams for $75 total. For me, it was worth it, especially if you consider a Sun Java certification to be an investment for your career.
Here is the site where you can get the mock exams: