Last week I passed the Java Associate exam: OCAJP 1Z0-803 with score 87%. I just wanted to share what I can remember from the exam and what materials I found most beneficial.
1. OCA Java SE 7 Programmer I Certification Guide: Prepare for the 1ZO-803 exam by Mala Gupta
2. Enthuware mock exams: JA+ V7 For OCA-JP-I SE7
I spent about 4 weeks in total preparing for the exam. As source material I read the aforementioned publication by Mala Gupta which I found compressive with each concept presented in a clear, concise and easy to read manner, similar in style to the head first series. I also used the Enthuware OCA-JP-I SE7 mock exam simulator. This really is an excellent piece of software with a large bank of questions, functionality to work on specific exam topics as well as take full mock exams with clear and compressive explanations of each exam question. There is also a very active support forum which was also invaluable.
One further piece of advice I would offer is that during the exam, read each question carefully before taking a look at the available answers. I found that at times while going through the mock exams that I was take a cursory glace at the question and then trying to fit one of the available answers into the problem, rather than working the problem out to its logical solution and using the available answers as vindication of my result.