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SCEA express (& thoughts)

 
Ade Barkah
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Hi all,
I recently passed the SCEA, though I wish I had found this forum prior to taking the exam. Taking the SCEA was a "spur of the moment" decision as I had very little window of time (about 10 days) to prepare for and complete all three parts. I'm an experienced J2EE architect and felt that I knew most if not all the topics already. Due to some technical glitches on Sun's part, the exam process turned out to be more "exciting" than it should have been.
I purchased Cade's Study Guide and spent a few nights going over it. The guide gave me a good indication on which areas I need to review (eg. various bean state transitions.) For each of my weak areas, I read up the relevant sections from the actual EJB specification document to refresh my memory. I then went through the sample questions in the book, mainly looking for concepts which I haven't covered (fault tolerance was one) and again read up on them (thanks Google.)
Three nights of studying isn't very much, and when I took the Part I exam... well after the first 5 questions I thought for sure I had flunked it! The questions seemed very vague and the answers even worse. Lucky for me the rest of the questions seemed much easier and I somehow ended up with a 93%. What a relief.
After the exam I tried to download Part I but had problems doing so. After exchanging emails with Sun I was able to download it the next day (on a Friday.) Normally this would not be a problem, except that I had a time constraint. I had the weekend in front of me and basically vowed to finish the assignment that weekend.
When I opened the assignment I almost laughed. I had expected a huge architectural problem yet on first reading, the assignment seemed rather trivial (albeit vague.) Well that was a relief. I did the class diagram, component diagram, and a couple use cases on Saturday, and the rest on Sunday. I provided a use case for all the ones identified in the use case diagram (even ones without the detailed case) though I did not provide alternate flows. I wrote an assumptions document and packaged everything in a Jar as required.
Well, come Monday I panicked a little. The assignment really too simplistic so I figured I must have missed something. So instead of submitting it, I went through it again, and added more assumptions (now very long), and made the class & component diagrams even more comprehensive (which probably a mistake.)
I had scheduled the Part III exam the following day, but when I tried to submit the assignment, I could not do so (same problem as when downloading.) I exchanged emails with Sun but ended up taking Part III before Part II was uploaded.
For Part III, I expected the same vague questions in Part I/II, but to my surprise the questions were very clear and direct. Basically it asks you to justify certain decisions you made in Part II. I decided to write detailed answers for each question asked (it took me about an hour to complete the exam.)
I finally was able to upload the assignment two days after taking Part III. I was very worried that taking Part III before submitting Part II was going to be a problem.
A few days after uploading Part II, I logged into the new CertManager and, gasp, it says that I had *failed* the exam! However the exam result seemed strange. It shows the exam was marked the same day Part II was uploaded, and the Exam Comments section was empty. I thought there was no way they could've graded my exam in one day, and probably my taking Part III before submitting Part II was the culprit. Also I couldn't comprehend how I failed such a simple assignment, maybe I did miss something big after all.
Well after exchanging even more emails with Sun, Shareon (who was always very responsive by the way) told me that the new CertManager was in error, that my assignment was received fine, I hadn't failed, and I should expect the actual results in 4-6 weeks. She also gave me a different CertManager url to check the results.
Happy to say, I passed the exam after all. I did miss several points on the Class and Component diagrams and ended up with a 91. The most points lost were on the Component diagram... I probably made things too complicated. The passing mark is only 70, however.
Overall, except for my time constraints (and Sun's technical glitches), I felt the exam itself was a bit too easy. It has neither the breadth nor the depth I had expected. I'm sorry to say, that after taking the exam, I lost some of my respect for it. As part of my job I go through many resumes, and now I give the SCEA a little less credence than before I took the exam.
That is not to say that the SCEA is a bad exam, I think I understand why Sun structured the exam the way it did. It is however far from the "premier" level J2EE certification I expected it to be. Hopefully in the future Sun will revamp the exam to be more meaningful. But at the end of the day I still felt the exam was worth taking.
Anyway that's my SCEA experience, I'm very interested in hearing your comments!
Thanks,
-Ade
 
Andrew Monkhouse
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Hi Ade,
Congratulations on passing It is very impressive you getting such high scores with so little time spent on it.
and when I took the Part I exam... well after the first 5 questions I thought for sure I had flunked it!


I had almost exactly the same reaction. I felt confident when I was on the way to the exam, but after the first few questions I was wondering whether I had made a big mistake. Fortunately, like you, I found the later questions much easier.
The problems you mentioned with being able to get the assignment, being able to upload the assignment, and seeing that horrific "failed" comment happen to everyone. We even have entries in our FAQ for them.
Regards, Andrew
 
Roger Thaete
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First of all, congrats on getting your SCEA , but I do have a few comments:
Taking the SCEA was a "spur of the moment" decision as I had very little window of time (about 10 days) to prepare for and complete all three parts. I'm an experienced J2EE architect and felt that I knew most if not all the topics already

If you are alrady an experienced J2EE architect, why did you feel that you had to get SCEA and why did you only have 10 days?
Is it possible that you are/were going to a new project or job that required this type of knowledge/credential?

The guide gave me a good indication on which areas I need to review (eg. various bean state transitions.) For each of my weak areas, I read up the relevant sections from the actual EJB specification document to refresh my memory

This is actually a big reason why most people do the work and spend the time to get technical certifications.
They either have no experience, limited experience, or some experience with the particular technologies, but they want to learn more about it, get credit for it, and hopefully get paid more for it, as well as learn some best practices.

When I opened the assignment I almost laughed. I had expected a huge architectural problem yet on first reading, the assignment seemed rather trivial (albeit vague.)

To someone with limited J2EE architect experience, I'm sure that when they open the assignment they feel quite challenged. Judging from the posts in this forum, most SCEA candidates seem fairly challenged, yet the vagueness of the assignment leaves openings for a candidate's creativity and their own experience to be applied. Also, an Architect must learn to ask the right questions, and we thank this forum for providing a place where those questions might get answered.

Overall, except for my time constraints (and Sun's technical glitches), I felt the exam itself was a bit too easy. It has neither the breadth nor the depth I had expected. I'm sorry to say, that after taking the exam, I lost some of my respect for it. As part of my job I go through many resumes, and now I give the SCEA a little less credence than before I took the exam.

How can you give the SCEA "less credence". I would respect anyone that has gone through the process of passing the exam, especially those working a full-time job, and also especially those that have limited experience, but want to learn more/most/all aspects of a technology.
I also review resumes and interview candidates for hire, and I look highly on those that have gone through the certification process. My experience has been that certified professionals are almost always highly driven/motivated/passionate about keeping their skills up to date and willing to spend time and learn new technologies to provide higher quality services/solutions.
To give the SCEA "less credence" you need to indicate what the SCEA lacks in providing a credential towards being a J2EE Architect. You have indicated that the SCEA was easy for you, but since you are already an experienced J2EE Architect, I would like to hear more from you with regards to what you feel it is lacking.
Based on my own preparation, I would imagine that some people would feel that some of the concepts are irrelevant to them (e.g. Screen Scrapers, etc.)
For a non-EJB and/or non-J2EE developer, given the breadth/depth that the SCEA requires, candidates that do the research, learn the material, and then apply that knowledge - I feel they get the most out of it.
Thanks,
Rog
 
Sujatha Kumar
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Roger Theate,
I Second your opinion / Comments.
 
Cheers Prasad
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Ade,
Congrats for clearing SCEA exam.
I appreciate your feeback on the SCEA exam..I would have been good if you have mentioned areas of improvement than giving negative comments.
Hope you understand, SCEA is for J2EE architect not for Enterprise Architect. I feel Enterprise Architect need more breadth since it does not cater to single technology.

Cheers,
prasad
 
Ramesh kumaar
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Anyway that's my SCEA experience, I'm very interested in hearing your comments!
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Hi,
If you can encourage people than share you good experiance about SCEA. We are not ready to hear any thing negative about SCEA as we belive certification is a better way of learning technology in a organized manner.
Regards,
Rameshkumar
SCJD
 
Vishwa Kumba
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Congratulations Ade
You sound like a seasoned architect with many years of architecting experience. For the benefit of the aspiring J2EE architects and the SCEA exam, make sure you participate in the survey of the next new SCEA exam and give your comments to SUN.
 
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