I was reading this forum yesterday, taking hope from all the people who had successfully passed this exam, and thought I might register and post my own experience if it went well. So here I am doing just that, since it did go rather well!
Regarding preparation, aside from working on some little Java projects at work and in my spare time, and reading the Java Language Specification (though I have to admit some of that is a bit heavy going!), I used the following in this order:
OCA Java SE 7 Programmer I Certification Guide: Prepare for the 1ZO-803 exam by Mala Gupta I thought this one was a lot better. It focusses more specifically on the exam and has some nice examples of things that can catch you out. I originally meant to read through it again before the exam, but didn't get around to it. I got 86% on the mock exam in this book when I tried it in October, which felt like progress at least. I might have passed the exam at this stage, but I still wanted to do more work to be absolutely certain.
Enthuware 1Z0-803 mock exam software Following all the recommendations here on JavaRanch, I bought this for the princely sum of £7.80 (about the price of a lunch). All those people aren't lying: this was hands-down the most useful resource I used. I'd still recommend working from a book and writing your own code because that will give you a more rounded perspective and make you a better developer (which is the actual end goal here, right? ). But the Enthuware questions are fantastic preparation for passing the exam. Being regularly trounced by the short 10-question quizzes forced me to up my game and really go in-depth in my knowledge of the various topics - I guess that really helped!
For people who want to know that kind of thing, my results on the mock exams were:
1: 70% (28 Sep)
2: 78% (05 Oct)
3: 80% (12 Oct)
4: 83% (09 nov)
5: 87% (11 Nov)
6: 84% (13 Nov)
In between each full mock exam, I read up on the topics I'd scored poorly on and took as many of the little tests as I could. When I had done the last exam, two days ago, and after reviewing all the questions I'd got wrong on that, I used the "Leitner Mode" in the software to go through all the questions I had either never answered correctly or which were on level 1. Though I didn't have time to go through them all by today, that did catch me out with a couple of remaining areas where my knowledge wasn't as complete as it could be. On the whole, I would say that the Enthuware questions were closest to the actual exam; without being identical, they had nonetheless trained me so that when certain patterns of questions came up, I thought "Wait a minute... in the software, that one was actually about -- oh, I see this one is too". Oh, and as people elsewhere have said, some of the mock questions are much harder than the actual exam, so they really do help make the exam feel easy by comparison.
Not that I thought the exam was a walk in the park. First of all, I got off to a nasty surprise when the exam centre called first thing this morning to ask if I could come in 1.5 hours earlier than I had originally planned due to double-booking -- so much for my last minute revision plans! However, as a bonus, I had the test room to myself for over an hour, and finished a lot earlier of course, so I can't complain.
I was very nervous for the first half hour or so - I'd struggled to finish some of the mock exams in time so I went through and answered all the questions to the best of my ability as quickly as possible to start with. This left me with an hour to review all the questions again, pausing on the ones I'd struggled with, and changing my answers when a less nervous examination proved my original answer was wrong. I still had twenty minutes left when I reached the end of my first review, so I went through them again, only re-reading the ones involving loops or mental arithmetic, which tended to be my downfall in the mocks.
It was evidently a winning formula - I was amazed when I finally got onto the Oracle certification website on my phone on the train home and saw my result! I still can't quite believe I got 100%! Thank you everyone who shared their results and preparation tips here!
Just wanted to add that I have just ordered my JQ+ V7 For OCP-JP-II SE7 mock exam kit from Enthuware -- might as well strike while the iron is hot, as it were! Though I'd be very surprised if I got all the questions right on that one when I get around to taking it. ;)