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test-taking advice from a recent scjp

 
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Hi all,
I passed the exam yesterday on my second attempt and I wanted to share my experience with the test facilities. I have seen lots of posts on what and how to study, all of which helped me greatly, but not too many tips on the logistics of taking the test.
Here's my advice: Find out what you can about the testing center before you decide which one to use. Don't choose it just for proximity to your house. If any of you are like me, you will be affected at least somewhat by a positive or negative experience dealing with the people at the test center, and by the quality of the hardware you will be using. (I am pretty spoiled here at work with a flat-screen, etc.)
In my case, the first place I went to had really old computers with screens that were very hard to read. Now, I'm not saying that that caused me to fail the test, but who knows--it set me off balance, and that's the last thing you want when you are trying to stay cool through a 2 hour exam. Right?
They also provided as the "one sheet of paper" we are allowed, a plastic write-on/wipe-off board and a large-tipped black magic marker. I also found this disconcerting, as those sheets are never truly clean, the marker was quite a bit thicker than a pencil, and over the course of the test I slowly but surely became covered with black magic marker.
Then, when it came time for the truth or consequences, and I went to retrieve my results, the guy took a long, hard, look at them, slowly walked over to me (I did not know what my score was at this point and was on the verge of running over to him to tear the sheet out of his hand) and said "It happens".
After that not-so-wonderful experience, and generally feeling like a goob for missing it by one question, I posted the JUGs in my area and asked for test center recommendations. I got a few, as well as a few to stay away from.
The place I chose for round two was a truly pleasant experience (well, if test-taking can ever be a pleasant experience). I was provided with a sheet of real paper, a pencil, and wished good luck. I could easily read the screen, and felt much more comfortable.
Then when I went to retrieve my results, the woman handed them to me in a very business-like manner, without even a peek at what they said, and thanked me for coming.
Of course, my increased comfort at round two might have been a *little* bit due to the increase in studying (I raised my score 30%), but just the same it's nice to not have to worry about the things about the test that are outside of your control.
Just study your rear off and go.
Anyone else have thoughts about these aspects of the testing environment and possible needs for some standardization for the sake of the test-takers?
Just my 50 cents.
If anyone has any related questions or other questions about the nature of the exam (not what they actual questions were, of course), I would be happy to reply. I received an answer to every question I posted to this forum during my study, and I am very grateful to all of you!

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Elizabeth Lester
Sun Certified Programmer for the Java� 2 Platform
 
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Congratulations Elizabeth
The exam center I used was fine but I have seen the odd horror story about poor testing conditions. The idea of 'shopping around' for a test center might not occur to people. Good advice!
I'm going to move this over to the Certification Results forum.
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Jane Griscti
Sun Certified Programmer for the Java� 2 Platform
 
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