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Questions/Concerns on taking OCAJP7 as a Newbie to Java

Blake Edward
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My situation is kind of interesting. I am a career changer at a new job and I have HTML/CSS experience. I have some JavaScript and Flash experience, but really very little. At my new job, some of us (managers included) see a need for Java programmers down the road so I volunteered to start the learning process. I like learning new things and I like a challenge and the prospects of a new career; and that's what I'm getting.

I was approved for the Oracle Java SE7 Fundamentals class by my company (I pay and they reimburse when the Certification test is passed, this fiscal year... and I know that just a certification does not make a programmer, experience does...) so I could get the "hands on" portion of the requirements. It seems that this class is rarely mentioned around these here parts but it is a requirement for certification. Here are my questions:

1. I have been studying hard since September (When I was approved by my company), and before that I was dabbling and writing simple programs. I have gone through the week long "hands on" class as well. It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I felt like I had gotten to point where I wasn't always looking in from the outside, but had finally stepped inside some of the concepts that are required of a programmer. I have been taking the Enthuware tests and some of them really humble me (fail) while others I get only close to 70%. I have the new "OCA Java SE7 Programmer I Study Guide" (which I have read and am now rereading along with Oracle's "Java, A Beginner's Guide") and took the first 90 question quiz on the cd rom and scored around 80%. So, what is the difficulty level of the actual exam? Is it like the Enthuware tests, which at times I find very difficult or is it like the test Oracle provides in the study guide, more concept and theory based, and at times requiring some rote memorization?

2. Also, I have scheduled my exam for late December. So I'll be taking it in about 4.5 weeks. Aside from the Enthuware tests, the books I have mentioned and just writing code... is there anything else you would suggest? I feel the pressure, and don't want to let anyone down at work. I don't have difficulty with the concepts, but my mind doesn't always work well as a compiler, at least not yet.

Thank you!
Roel De Nijs
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Hi Blake,

I don't have taken the OCAJP7 exam, so I can't compare the difficulties between the different resources (books, mock exams,...) and the real exam. But I have some experience with the OCPJP certification exams.

Unfortunately your mind has to work for quite a few questions like a compiler. So you have to spot compiler errors (using a variable out of scope, illegal method override, illegal method overload, wrong syntax, invoking a method which isn't accessible due to limited access modifiers,...). If you can spot these issues, these questions are the most easy ones: just check "Compilation fails" and proceed to the next one. You also have to spot when a code sample might result in a runtime exception (class cast, null pointer, index out of bounds,...). Almost all questions with a code sample have "Compilation fails" and "A runtime exception occurs" as possible answers.
The actual exam always mentions the number of correct answers you have to pick. I know some mock exams don't mention this valuable information (which in my opinion is a good thing when you are preparing because you have to evaluate each answer), but on the actual exam the number of correct answers is always mentioned, which makes it a bit easier for the candidate (because even if you don't know, you know how much answers you have to pick)

Good luck!
Kind regards,
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