This posting is primarily directed to those individuals who have made it past the SCJP gauntlet. My hats off to you. However if any one or more of our illustrious panel of java experts whish to respond they certainly are welcome to (and by the way, to that panel I say thank you thank you thank you for being there for us newbies).
I am cramming for this exam. I have read the K&B book. Then I bought the Whizlabs package. I took the diagnostic exam and failed it miserably. I then reviewed all of my incorrect answers with the K&B book and got myself to understand the correct answer of each. I then took exam 1, 2, 3 and 4, failing each one miserably each time I took each one for the first time. Any finally I took the final exam, and that too I failed. After each exam I reviewed and researched my incorrect answers using K&B to get to the point of understanding what is correct.
So far I have taken exam 1 thru 4 at least twice, and I just finished taking the final exam for the second time. Now of course which each iteration of each exam my results improve, and I am passing each exam, however this I'm concerned may be a false indicator. Am I remembering the concepts or am I remembering the answers to the questions?
The question to those of you who have used this same strategy I ask you: Have you expereinced this? If so what did you do? Did you go and take the real thing when you got to this point, or did you continue cramming with fresh material using mock exams from somewhere else?
Yours is not a unique situation and several students do face it. The exam is not easy.
From our experience, the leading cause for this situation to arise is using the mock exams at a wrong time of your preparation. You must first read a book thoroughly, practice code examples given in the book and only when you think you have understood the concepts well, you should attempt the mocks. Usually, the score in the first mock that you take will tell you how strong your concepts are. A very low score means, going back to the book instead of continuing with mocks.
As you mentioned, you failed miserably in the first mock exam, did you go back to the book? Yes, understanding each wrong answer is good but not enough if your score is too low ( < 40%). Instead of taking further mock exams, you should have gone back to reading the book. Otherwise, you would just waste your mock exams. Taking the same mock exam twice is also not helpful in such situation. Mock exams help you reinforce the concepts. They cannot build concepts from ground up and cannot replace a book (which is what low scores on mock exams signify).
At this point of time, you have used up all your mock exams twice and it is difficult to tell from the scores whether you have really understood the concepts or just remembered the answers inadvertantly. IMHO, you should concetrate on the book again and write lot of code. Then take a new mock exam (there are several free and commercial ones) and see how you score. This score will tell you your real position.
One advice would be if you flunk in the mock test very badly say you are scoring 40 -60% dont review the answer instead read the book once again and try the same mock exam and may be after that you can get the idea about your score . The way you are going checking your answer is wrong i guess because the next time you are giving the exam you know what is the answer of the question. So try the above thing.
You know, someone in this venue stated something recently about how people require different methods to learn things. I think my situation applys here. You see, I can read that book a second time, but I can tell that it is not until I am tested that the concepts will be driven home. I need to get answers wrong, many times more that once, in order to learn this stuff. Just reading the book, although its got all the answers in it, is not enough for me.
So I believe the solution for me will be to keep taking as many of the mock exams I can get a hold of (not taking the same mocks over and over), and continue as I have been - use the K&B book to research those incorrect questions.
Anybody else care to comment on my strategy? Thanks all