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simultaneous cert preparation

 
Manuel Comnenus
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Does anyone have any experiences that they can share regarding preparing for the SCJD while preparing for another Sun Java certification exam. Since one has up to a year to complete the SCJD assignment, it could be an intriguing approach - work on and off on the assignment while studying for and (hopefully) passing one of the certification exams that is less demanding.
Or, is the SCJD so demanding that this would be a foolish thing to attempt?

Thanks,
Steve
 
Jeroen T Wenting
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There is no time limit on the SCJD assignment. Just don't purchase the voucher for the written exam until you're ready to take that.

Personally I like to concentrate on one thing at a time, I've got enough to distract me already in this thing they call a job , but for others it may work.
 
Dibbo Khan
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I think this is actually a good idea. I tend to complete certifications in bursts, have a period of intense activity, 1 cert a month for 4 months and nothing for another six months. It is very important to try to sustain the momentum once you are in the mood to struggle a bit.

When I did my MCAD, I studied for two weeks like mad, took a test and then partied like mad for two weeks and repeated this another two times to finish three tests from February 2nd to May 1rst. It came me a massive career boost.

I have been consulting for two years and I actually disagree that demanding work saps your energy for other things, the more I have to program at work the more my mindset is read to focus on technical matters so it is rather the opposite. As soon as you leave work just switch off and focus on your other priorities.

I am a very busy person, I am very strict about going to the gym 5 - 6 times a week, going to the cinema twice a week and I do love a drink, once or twice a week.

Practice tests a a good way to study, you can see how certifications I have managed to complete. The trick is not to lose drive or motivation, the feeling of being tired after studying is physcological and not physiological.

Your SCJD will take 6 months to a year, that is alot of time, I thing doing the SCWCD developer in that interval to keep your momentum up is a good idea. Since if you have achieved that you will feel so good that you will have the energy to go on.

Don't bother with the SCBCD or SCDJWS, JEE5 radically overhauls these technologies and I would wait for the new exams. But get an SCJP 5.0 if you don't already have one and take the SCWCD, that is my advice and you will have 3 strong certs when you finish the SCJD.

I admire you and confess that I have never bothered with the SCJD, I just don't have the energy for it, I am better with exams than assignments, so I admire your determination.
 
Jeroen T Wenting
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and how much of that study leads to retained longterm knowledge?
It's been decisively shown that cramming for exams doesn't teach you anything, a short time after the exam the knowledge is almost completely gone.
You now have a piece of paper saying you know something when in fact you don't.
 
wise owen
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It's been decisively shown that cramming for exams doesn't teach you anything, a short time after the exam the knowledge is almost completely gone.
You now have a piece of paper saying you know something when in fact you don't.


Very Good Points. Thanks.
 
Manuel Comnenus
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Thank you to all of you have have offered advice. My thoughts are along the lines of primarily preparing for the SCJD, but given that the assignment is apparently very involved, to allow for a (potentially) doable detour if I need to take a break from the assignment for whatever reason. Conceptually, this is somewhat like different threads competing for resources, which in this case comes down to time and effort.

The SCJD exam does not appear to be a cram exam - it is a competency exam. The SCWCD is more of a fact/memorization exam. Given that preparing for these two exams presumably constitutes two very different types of activities, one can perhaps use one's time a little more effectively. I think that this is one of the arguments behind the Head Start series - varied activities help retention.

Given that I've stated things this way, could you comment again? Is a two-exam strategy such as I've outlined a mistake?

Thanks,
Steve
 
Andrew Monkhouse
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Several people have done this in the past. One notable person was Phil Maquet who was also a bartender here (one of our best), who got to a certain point in the SCJD assignment, felt he needed a break, so went and did the SCBCD certification before continuing on with SCJD.

I think this is a very reasonable idea, however it is not for everyone.

Regards, Andrew
 
Manuel Comnenus
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Hi Andrew,

Thank you for your advice. FYI - I bought your book yesterday and I have been going through it. I like its layout and my early take is that it is going to really reduce my odds of getting into a mess with the design. I have taken your book's advice and also picked up a book on design patterns. My current plans are to complete the exercise in your book, read the design patterns book and then download the assignment. This probably takes place some time during the summer.

Steve
 
Dibbo Khan
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Cramming is not of course as good as taking a very long time to study and reading an extensive array of materials at your own pace.

But there are several issues at hand. First of all how much time do you have??? How much can you get done to advance your career in a reasonable amount of time.

Getting these certificates can give you a chance to get practical experience that ultimately contributes to your knowledge and marketability, that is what the "trivial" piece of paper is worth and that is worth alot.

This is not about knowledge by itself. For example someone who studies slowly and extensibly but does not have either the experience or certification is not that marketable.

Any amount of studying does not lead to knowledge that you can retain in the long run without the day to day practical experience to reinforce that knowledge.

I have noticed that alot of people tend to denigrate certification in numerous ways but the vast majority of these people tend to have no certification of their own.

In my experience certification has been of utmost importance to me, I became a consultant after three years of experience and tripled my salary in one job move, that is not all due to certification, but that is what gets my CV noticed.

I live in England and recruiters tend to notice all the certs at the top my CV, that is not enough - but it is a big help.

What is all the knowledge worth if you can not demonstrate you have it in some way, that is what the piece of paper is worth.

Furthermore, people who take forever to prepare for an exam instead of cramming to some extent, tend to never get around to taking or passing the exam.
 
Jeroen T Wenting
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Cramming for a certification won't give you practical experience, you're contradicting yourself there.

If you already are doing work related to the exam subjects, prepping for that exam can help you improve your skills and reinforce that work experience, but don't cram anyway.
Take your time whatever you do, or the effort will ultimately be wasted.

People cramming for cert exams and showing up at job interviews with tons of certs on their CV but no work experience cause the value of those certs to be seriously degraded.
They won't know the answers to real world questions about the subjects they claim (through mentioning those certs) to be experts in, only the dry theoretical book knowledge poured into them for those exams (and if they crammed and never used it again, even that may be long gone).
This became so bad with the MCSE exam for NT4 for example that many companies made it a standing policy to not invite people holding that cert for job interviews unless it was backed up with verifiable work experience of at least a certain number of years (related to seniority level of course). And some companies made it a policy to not invite people holding that cert on general principles.
SCJP is in danger of going the same way, I don't want SCJD or SCDCD (which I'm planning on doing after SCJD) to end up like that.
 
Dibbo Khan
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A few points I would like to clarify,

some people will always view several things negatively, in the UK age can be negative, short contracts, even a mix of knowledge (java and C#) leads some people to believe you are not very good at either.

However it is not useful to worry about all the negative antagonistic individuals out there, our sector is full of many, it is more useful to consider if doing something will help in some or many circumstances.

I believe many more people like my certs than are negatively predisposed to them. In addition to my 3.5 years of C# experience my certs really help me stand out.

Secondly it is better to cram for the cert than not have it all. Get the cert, and then get experience based upon the slight advantage that cert gives you and reinforce that knowledge.

I have stated that my MCAD led to my C# experience not that other way around, without the certs I wouldn't have gotten the chance and be where I am today.

Secondly or many other types of studying are awful in many ways, very slow studying is equally bad, because by the time you cover one topic and move on to the second you forget the first.

However provided you back up your crammed certs with continued study at your own pace this is okay.

I did cram for my MCAD but continued to study C#, Java and other matters on the web and reading excerpts from many books. I believe that for my experience level, 5 years in IT, my IT knowledge is really broad.

I have seen many people start studying and never finishing and never getting their certification done, all I am saying it is better to cram than do that.

Getting certified is a motivation issue I find and not one of studying. No matter how badly you cram there are useful things you will always retain, differences between datareader and dataset, string and stringbuilder and so on. These tend to be C# interview questions and they are easily learned.

I know a colleague who has been studying for his first C# exam for 8 months and still has not taken it. I encourage him to cram, because by the time he gets his MCAD, C# 2007 (C# 3.0) will be commerically released and his certs will be way out of date.

It is not easily to motivate and energize yourself to cram, it is a big mistake to believe that.

I have a question for you Jeroen, since you don't list your certs, I presume you have finshed the SCJP 5.0 and SCWCD 1.4, how was your study experience???
 
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