Welcome to Javaranch. I must admit that I found that question a little frustrating too. From what I understand, you're very unlikely to encounter a question like that on the real exam. But in the unfortunate event that you do, I suggest that you just leave it till after you've confirmed your answers to all the other questions. If all goes well, you should have at least 20 min remaining then, which will hopefully be enough to solve the puzzle. If not, well, 71/72 is a great score too.
The Whizlabs mock exams contain a similar puzzle-like question, which I just skipped entirely during my preparation. Honestly, I wouldn't waste too much time on questions like these. At the end of the day, the SCJP is all about developing and demonstrating your Java proficiency, so don't let the occasional oddball question discourage you.
Your post is a good one. I've trying to solve some of the exercises in the SCJP 5 book. And many of them just are too tough. And I have been wondering with a big deal of concern if questions with this level of difficulty are actually in the real exam. I sure hope NOT. Puzzles like this have at times totally discouraged me. But it's good to know I'm not the only who's had trouble with them.
I was also frustrated by this very same question not too long ago. You might want to read my old post , which also has a link to another older post, and (if you search some more) there are other posters here who say similar things.
You are not alone. As Kelvin says, I wouldn't worry either.
First, sorry about the long time. I had been working very hard and I didn�t have time to login here, but I�m back, I studied with other book, and the problem might be wrong writed, because the same question have a difference in the operators, it gave: -= = *= *=
Stepping back from this particular question, and looking at the high view of the exam:
1 - You will definitely spend more time on some questions than on others. (For instance some of the threads questions have a lot of code to look through.) So you can't expect that you'll never have to spend more than 2 or 3 minutes on any given question - you'll have to budget your time! In other words, sometimes you might answer a question in 30 seconds, and other times you might spend 5 or 7 minutes.
2 - This puzzle-y kind of question probably won't come up often, but you might get one or two like this so we just wanted you to be prepared. Also, there aren't any "fill in the blank" questions like this one, we were just trying to emulate a drag-and-drop question in a book :roll:
Spot false dilemmas now, ask me how!
(If you're not on the edge, you're taking up too much room.)