I am a Java developer with 4 years of XP and I cleared today SCEA 5 part 1.
The journey so far was great, you sure learn a lot.
My first impression when I finished the exam was "god it was tough".
Tougher than I thought it would be. You have some tricky questions but
this is more keeping the right focus for a long time which is hard.
You have plenty of very lengthy questions.
I have had no DnD questions at all btw.
To me the more difficult questions where about applicabilty of jee techno.
This is where you have the long questions where you need to choose the best
combination of techno to solve a problem. You really need to consider all the requirments
carefully and you waste time.
On the other hand, questions about OO/design patterns/security (xss, sql injection etc) are
shorter and easier. If you know well your stuff you make up for the time you lost while answering
the lengthy questions.
It was constantly the case for me during the mock exams and during the real thing as well.
For my preparation I read most of the books recommended in the Forum
and did some mock exams.
-Sun Certified Enterprise Architect for Java EE Study Guide, 2nd Edition by Marc Cade.
In my top 3.A must have. I read it 4 times(small book).
It is a roadmap and summary of you need to know.
After you expand each topic with other books.
Two questions word for word in my exam were taken from that book, I know for sure I got those two right !
-Enterprise Integration Patterns: Designing, Building, and Deploying Messaging Solutions
Awesome.Once you've read the basics about JMS in the JEE tutorials,
this book shows you how to design messaging solutions.
The content is a bit beyond the scope of the exam but it is very valuable for any java architect.
-IT Architectures and Middleware Secon edition by Chris Britton. Top 3
-Core Security Patterns. Top 3
-Core J2EE Patterns, 2nd ed.
-EJB 3 in Action.
-Core JSF 3rd edition.
-Pro JPA 2
-JEE tutorial for web services and jms
-I have SCWCD for JSP/servlet stuff which I took with Head First SCWCD
-SCEA study guide by Allen and Bambara.
Useless, a real waste of time,space and money.
What I keep from this reading is that I enjoyed more the high level books
talking about architeture/design and strategies to build complex software.
I know this is the kind of books I'll come back to later on in my career.
The books that are techno specific were good as well but their scope of validity/relevance is smaller.
whizlab Mok exams :
I read mixed messages about these mock exams in the forum so I was not too sure about them.
In my case I bought it just because I knew I'll get the money back by my company ;-)
To be fair, I have been pleasantly surprised.
It turned out that I found whizlab mock exams very useful.
And I would really recommend it to anyone who is preparing seriously
and wants a feel of the real exam.
Here is what I can tell about it.
Amount of content:
What you get is 5 full mock exams of 64 questions each (one diagnostic test, 3 training tests and one final test).
I have done all of them in this order, over a period of 2 weeks before my exam
and I didnt come across obvious repeated questions really.
The only thing is you'll find again the questions asked in the free trial mock.
To me this was the right amount of content, enough to exercice yourself a couple of times in
all the exam's objectives but not too much to have the feeling to go round in circle for ever.
Difficulty of questions:
Similar to what you'll have in the real exam.
I scored between 80% and 89% in all mocks and got 85% in the real thing.
But I found the real thing a bit more challenging. Partly because you have more lengthy questions
and keeping the focus was difficult at times.
So yes it is true that if you score high enough with the mocks you'll be fine for the real thing.
Accuracy of answers:
Regarding the explanations I found them quite good in general and lets be clear
you can learn a lot from that. However some of them are just random copy/past of
some specifications or copy/past of the notes they provide in the website which doesnt always help for the specific question.
The most annoying thing for me was that I felt that some answers were wrong or not in line with what you'd normally do
in real world projects.
I remember a shoking question asking what is not in line with separation of concerns.
One of the answer was "business object executing SQL" and another one was "JSP invoking JEE entities".
I picked the first one "obviously" but according to whizlab it is the second one the correct answer.
Im sorry but its quite common to inject JPA entities in views and use the equivalent of Open session in view pattern to
do lazy loading. However having a CustomerBO doing some sql is less frequent. We have the DAO pattern for that.
Anyway it is only a minority.
Certification objectives focus:
The range of topics covered in the mocks is broader than the current exam's objectives.
I mean you'll have some questions not releant anymore for scea 5.
But it was not an issue to me as I am taking the exam to be a good architect not just to pass the test.
So if something was worth knowing at some point in the past it still is for me.
Poor english myth:
It is not a myth. That's true that there a couple of questions where it is a bit hard to understand the written english.
Once I even found myself not able to understand neither the question nor the answer.
But most of the time you can figure out what they mean even if this is not perfectly written.
Overall it really helped me in the preparation so I am happy about the purchase.
After this preparation my target was 90% but I guess it was just not meant to be.
Now I move on to part 2 and I guess I'll give another go to whizlab as it is free for me !