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Cleared IBM XML-142 (49 questions in 75 minutes) with 94%

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1. Architecture: 19% (9 out of 49) - 8/9
2. Information Modeling: 22% (11 out of 49) - 11/11
3. XML Processing: 22% (11 out of 49) - 10/11
4. Transformations: 29% (14 out of 49) - 14/14
5. Testing and Tuning: 8% (4 out of 49) - 3/4

I finally did it. I had been studying intensively for 3 months, which, is way too much in retrospective and with regards for the exam difficulty. I was just over-stressed due to my experience with Sun exams which are usually way more difficult. Adding to my preparation uncertainty, is the assessment exam I took 72 hours ago, on the IBM site for $30. I only got a %70 mark. Following that score, I tried to correct my weaknesses and spent the last 2 days reviewing (not for the 1st time) the w3c XML Schema Part 0: Primer Second Edition and XSL Transformations (XSLT). The first is a long, a bit tedious document, but of supreme quality and importance. This did put me on the right path - but by no means summarizes my preparation for the exam.

The biggest exam surprise for me was the time allocated for the 49 questions. The IBM XML 000-142 time is 75 minutes!!! This, is in contrast to the assessment test I took, which allocated 90 minutes. I finished the assessment test with 12 seconds to go - imagine my surprise when the real test shaved 15 minutes off my expectations. Weird. Alas, it turned out I was prepared. The test questions were not hard. Further more, I had not encountered a single question style which I had not seen before in one version or another (see my resources later) and the questions were straight-forward and not tricky or 'wise-ass' styled. Under my definition of 'wise-ass' fall all those questions that require the choice of the 'wrong' or 'false' choices, such as: Which XML fragment will NOT validate for the above DTD?. I see no educational value in these types of questions, which at best, test your English language reading skills and draw you out of professional focus. Sun, seems to me, fond of these types of questions especially on SCJP. IBM, I think, is not.

Resources: During my preparation I exhausted all the mock exams I could find. This includes all the free ones and commercial ones. The free ones are listed in the FAQ section of this forum on JavaRanch - IBM XML Certification FAQ. All free with the exception of the IBM assessment test. This test costs $30 (not $10) and will give you a pretty good idea where you stand. There are not many commercial mock questions (simulators) available. There is a 98 questions bank available for a payment from at least three different vendors. The only difference is the application interface (one uses Flash, another Java Swing) but the questions are identical. All together I took mock exams that cover around 250 different questions - including the 49 from IBM assessment. Not a very large bank in comparison with available simulators for Sun SCXXX exams.

Next: I followed the The 3 part tutorial from IBM (also from this forums FAQ). I made extensive revision notes off these tutorials. Notice, you need to register at IBM and create and account to access these tutorials (free). Then I took the following tutorials from

  • XML
  • DTD
  • XSLT
  • XPath
  • XQuery
  • Schema

  • Books:

  • XML in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition by Elliotte Rusty Harold; W. Scott Means
  • The XML Bible, 2nd Edition - also by Elliotte Rusty Harold
  • Processing XML with Java(TM): A Guide to SAX, DOM, JDOM, JAXP, and TrAX - guess by who? That's right. Elliotte Rusty Harold

  • Finally: I was not yet too familiar with the Java API's for DOM and SAX and I lacked JAXP experience. I reviewed the API for the Java 1.6 API specs for the following packages (and sub-packages): org.w3c.dom and org.xml.sax. Following my assessment test at IBM I went back to these specs and reviewed the package which caused me to review the Document Object Model (DOM) Level 2 Events Specification. and reviewed many excellent articles on JavaWorld such as the three parts article:

  • Part 1. Use the Simple API for XML (SAX) to process XML in Java easily
  • Part 2. Learn about SAX and XML validation through illustrative examples
  • Part 3. DOMination: Take control of structured documents with the Document Object Model

  • and another excellent article:

  • Take the sting out of SAX

  • And to satisfy my curiosity only (this was not required to pass IBM 142) I also went through the Sun tutorial Using JAXB.

    For all code examples and sources provided with the JavaWorld articles I used MyEclipse IDE (which I am used to and like) and for all XML related files (DTD,Schema,XML, XHTML, XSL, QL and etc...) I used XMLSpy which is a must have tool for XML. For those questions related to SAX parse events (giving an XML fragment - asking what SAX events will be fired at which order) , I wrote a little class based on the SAXEcho from one of the IBM 3 part tutorials. For each XML fragment under question, I fed it to this class and watched the events being echoed to System.out - until I got the hang of it. I also experienced a lot with XMLSpy writing schemas and corresponding XML instances using advanced features such as xsd:unique and xsd:selector with xsd:field to define unique constraints. (see the primer).

    Tip an occurring subject of importance in more than one mock exam is the knowledge of Building Content Models with XML schemas in particular substitution groups and xsd:all, xsd:choice and xsd:sequence. Learn how the minOccurs and maxOccurs affect the content model when a) defined on the grouping element (e.g. xsd:choice) and b) on the group elements themselves.

    Good Luck!!!

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