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SCJP 1.5 difficulty level

 
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I'm currently preparing for SCJP 1.5 using the Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates book. I'm curious, how do the example questions compare to the difficulty of the final exam?

I'll confess that I have found the questions on the first 3 chapters to be quite difficult, largely because they seem to be as much out to "catch you out" (i.e. make you slip up in the logic of working out the answer) as to test your real knowledge of Java. The questions are FAR more difficult than the Java Rules Roundup game found on this site.

This situation is beginning to make me question the value of continuing with SCJP preparation and taking the exam itself. Afterall, I could spend the time in other ways (learning more about design patterns, becoming more efficient with my IDE) which ultimately will do more to make be a better programmer at a practical level.

Here's my logic:

- I've seen a LOT of CVs/resumes come in with SCJP 1.4 and from what I can tell, this exam is significantly easier than 1.5. It seems that virtually every Java programmer and his dog out there has SCJP 1.4. OK, I know that isn't quite true, but it seems to be getting that way!

- Few clients/recruiters will appreciate the difference in difficulty (and therefore value) between SCJP 1.4 and 1.5. Indeed, I doubt it would factor highly in deciding between two otherwise equal candidates.

Conclusion: It has become more difficult to obtain a qualification which has little to differentiate it from a qualification that I perceive to have become devalued by the number of people holding it (SCJP 1.4).

I'd appreciate people thoughts and comments on this. Should I quit preparing for SCJP 1.5 and follow the masses and do 1.4 instead?

best regards,

Andy

PS. I know SCJP 1.5 is new, but I'm yet to see it on a single CV/resume.
 
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Well, the book does have a little bit more difficult questions than the real exam, but I will say the real exam is close. Their questions aren't to trip you up, but more to see how much knowledge you have gained from the chapter.

Also, the value of getting the 5.0 certification is what you learn. If you are getting tripped up by those questions, then it would be a great plus to your career because you would really understand and learn the insides of Java and how best to develop with Java. The core stuff to me is the most important to learn. Without it, the knowledge foundation is weak.

If you think you want the certification because you want it on your resume to get a better job, and to impress all the girls, then maybe certification isn't for you. But if you really want to learn some amazing stuff, then keep reading K&B's book, and get those questions down.

Good Luck

Mark
 
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Hey Andrew,

I wonder if you could give an example of one of those "catch you out" questions? The reason I ask is because for the 1.5 exam the real exam creators tried not to create artificially tricky questions, and we tried to match that intent in the book.

My opinion is that there are just parts of Java that are tricky, so it really is "real" Java that we're trying to teach and test, but it's possible that we let some gratuitously "tricky" stuff creep in, and if so we should address that.

Thanks,

Bert
 
Andrew Ebling
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Thanks for your reply Mark.

I must confess that through studying the first three chapters, I have learned a lot of subtleties of the Java programming language which I would probably never have learned through day-to-day programming, unless I happened to be tripped up by a related bug (and so ended up looking it up). I've also learned a lot about Java 5, since most of our clients require earlier version of Java to be used (in some cases 1.1.8!!)

Then again, if I was only doing SCJP to gain knowledge, I'd work through the study material and skip the exam, along with associated stress and cost.

As for questions that trip you up, I think maybe that is just a symptom of a multiple choice questions and the need to keep the average mark down.

For example someone could be very well versed in garbage collection (including common implementation techniques - so beyond the level of knowledge required for the exam) and be capable of writing a perfectly formed essay on the subject, yet they could miss the correct answer on what otherwise appears to be a question about GC (i.e. "Compilation fails") option because they missed a badly formed call to a var-arg function somewhere else

To me, that is the very definition of being "caught out"

Andy
 
Andrew Ebling
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Originally posted by Bert Bates:
Hey Andrew,

I wonder if you could give an example of one of those "catch you out" questions? The reason I ask is because for the 1.5 exam the real exam creators tried not to create artificially tricky questions, and we tried to match that intent in the book.

My opinion is that there are just parts of Java that are tricky, so it really is "real" Java that we're trying to teach and test, but it's possible that we let some gratuitously "tricky" stuff creep in, and if so we should address that.

Thanks,

Bert



Hi Bert,

Thanks for replying to my post. I'm just about to go back and do a post-mortem on my answers to the questions in chapter 3, so I'll let you know if I find questions that I consider to fall into that category.

The "Exam Watch" annotations in the book seem genuinely insightful, if a little sneaky on occasion!

thanks again,

Andy
 
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