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Scored 93% on OCA JP7 today

 
Ria von der Wartburg
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Hi everyone! --> insert waving smiley here <--

This morning I scored 93% in the OCAJP7.
I haven't even received my cool eCertificate yet...

Reading about the experiences of all the people who posted here has really helped me in my preparation, so I'll share mine as well:

Resources used:
OCA/OCP Java SE 7 Programmer I & II Study Guide by Kathy Sierra & Bert Bates
Enthuware Mock Exams OCA SE7
Java Language Specification


Time spent:
2 months,
ca 171h concentrated study time (excluding all the times I read on my phone, waiting for the bus & stuff)

My Preparation:
I registered for the exam two months ago, on January 16. I'm still pretty new to programming: started learning Java in August last year and been taking a Java/Software Engineering course at a local institute since the end of September. The first thing I did after making the decision that I wanted to take the exam, was check out these forums and get inspiration & advice from the people who posted here. That was extremely helpful in finding the right material for my preparation (thank you all!!). I decided to get the K&B book and the Enthuware mock exams.

I started by working through the K&B book. By "working through" I mean reading the first 6 chapters and constantly trying out all kinds of concepts and things I read with the notepad & command line. That's a really great tip I read here somewhere (and I think they mention it in the book to): to use a simple notepad (no fancy syntax highlighting!) and the command line to write numerous small java programs.

I did all the self tests & used the book's exam software as well. I did those tests per exam objective first, so I won't post my "Exam 1" and "Exam 2" scores here, as I already knew the questions from the objective-wise tests when I did them.

I was really keen on trying out the Enthuware mock exams, but faithfully waited until I was finished with all 6 chapters of the K&B book, which took me about 2 weeks. I invested several hours every day - thank God I didn't have to work a job during that time, otherwise I couldn't have done it.
After I was through the book I mainly worked with Enthuware: I took a test and then I went through all of the answers and ALL of the explanations, even of those that I had answered correctly. After the second Standard Test I got discouraged because my results weren't improving as quickly as I had hoped for (I'll show you my scores in a minute). It really felt like I could NEVER get all the crazy little eventualities and pitfalls right...

And then I found an approach that really helped me improve: During the Enthuware tests I noted down every question where I either WASN'T SURE or DIDN'T KNOW. And then afterwards I tried to get the CONCEPT behind those things that I wasn't sure about and studied it until I felt I understood it. That also led me to read a lot of sections in the JLS. And one time when I didn't find the answer in the JLS or elsewhere, I asked a question here on the forum - got helped immediately by the wonderful Roel!

So here are my Enthuware Test Scores:

Starter Test - Feb 1: 78%
Test 1 - Feb 3: 76%
Test 2 - Feb 7: 77%
Test 3 - Feb 12: 91%
Test 4 - Feb 15: 84%
Test 5 - Feb 25: 91%
Test 6 - March 3: 96%
Last Day Test - March 14: 99% (Woohooo!!)

(OCA Exam - March 17: 93%)

I really took the Enthuware advice and did NOT do any other practice tests until I was finished with the last Standard Test, so my scores are 'representative', meaning that all the questions were new to me when I was taking the tests. Most people---no, wait: ALL of the people who posted here scored higher in the real exam than in the Enthuware tests. As you can see, I didn't. Even though I must have been overprepared and had gotten enough sleep. I strongly suspect that's because I made some dummy mistakes - I tend to do that...

Another concern I had during preparation was the time. In the K&B book they give some tips for the exam and they talk about several pass throughs. But after the first Enthuware tests I realized that I could never do it that way. No way could I actually read through every question TWICE. I could go through the 70 questions ONE time, and then have just enough time to review the ones I had marked. That didn't change much until the end and I decided this was gonna be my manner of approach for the real exam. So that's how I did it today as well. I passed through once, carefully reading and thinking through each question and answering every one I could. I left like 6 questions unanswered the first time, and had marked like 15 for review - and had enough time to finish up of those after the initial pass through. Another hour of time would have probably allowed me to spot those dummy mistakes and correct them, haha.

After I had gone through the Enthuware Standard Tests, I started using "Leitner Mode" (a feature of the Enthuware software) which was pretty cool because it doesn't tell you how many options you're supposed to choose, so you have to KNOW the answers (or guess right). I also re-took every single standard test (scores were at the 90-100% range the second time) and did the other practice tests, but always pretended that I had never seen the question before, so I carefully thought through each one even if I remembered it.
I really really REALLY recommend Enthuware! In fact, there were a few questions on the exam today that were almost identical to questions I remembered from the Enthuware tests! And yes, the mock exams ARE more difficult that the real exam, in that they test you on more concepts and also more tricky concepts. That's how I know I must have made dummy mistakes today - D'OH!!

These last few weeks of preparation I re-read parts of the K&B book, re-took all of the self tests & exam software tests, and also read some Oracle Tutorial stuff online, like about Exceptions.
Oh, there's one thing: in the K&B book they say there's nothing about operator precedence on the exam. Well...*cough*...I'm not allowed to discuss the exam content, but I'm sure glad I learned a lot about that subject on the Enthuware exams *cough*.

Something I found really odd:
Before the exam started, it said that not all of the questions would be part of the exam score. That's weird. I wonder why they do that. Doesn't make any sense, because now luck becomes a factor.

Oh, and another thing: this foliated thingy and the wiper-thingy you get to take notes...? Really sucks. In the K&B book they say to complain to oracle about that and demand some real sheets of paper. I think I'll do that - if I'm not too lazy. THAT was probably the reason why I didn't score 100%. Yeah, that must have been it.

Okay, I'll put my name on the Wall of Fame now, if I can figure out how to edit that page... used up all my brain power in the exam today.

- Ria
 
Joe Harry
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That was a great score. Congratulations!

I guess every now and then they might be testing some new questions as part of the real exam! As an exam taker, you are completely oblivious to that! But whatever it is, it will be part of the exam syllabus!
 
Ria von der Wartburg
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Thanks Joe!!
Ah, testing new questions... yeah that would make sense... Then we should get a bonus if we've answered them correctly, haha
 
Sergej Smoljanov
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good speed (about preparation time). Congratulation.
 
Frits Walraven
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Congratulations and you deserve a Cow for the detailed description
 
Ria von der Wartburg
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@Sergej:
Thank You!

@Frits:
Wow! My first cow - LOVE IT!! Thanks lot! *happy*
 
Blake Edward
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That was a very encouraging post for someone (me) who keeps procrastinating about test preparation. I have studied before and always feel like my knowledge is too topical to commit to the test. However, after a few false starts and hundreds of small programs I have a decent grasp of the language. I bought the K&B book today. My job is in flux, and I need this certification to move on. Great detailed post! Congratulations.
 
Ria von der Wartburg
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Thanks Blake!
Ah, I can see from one of your earlier posts that you already tried the exam a couple of years ago... There's some other things I did during my preparation, besides the actual studying and programming, and I think it has helped my success:
Almost every day I did some form of short meditation/visualization exercise where I imagined and got into the state of having already accomplished my goal. You know, that good feeling you get when you've been successful and you know you're really good and now you have a certificate to show the world. I practiced that feeling and saw myself as someone who can do this.
I think mental attitude is key to success, and to move you into the right kind of action to achieve your goal.
 
Blake Edward
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Thank you for that advice. All in all Java Ranch is a very positive place that exudes positive vibes.
 
Roel De Nijs
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Ria von der Wartburg wrote:This morning I scored 93% in the OCAJP7.

Congratulations, champion! After such impressive achievement, it's definitely time to relax and have a (or another drink of your choice).

Ria von der Wartburg wrote:the wonderful Roel!

Now I have no other option than to give you a cow!

Ria von der Wartburg wrote:Reading about the experiences of all the people who posted here has really helped me in my preparation, so I'll share mine as well

Thanks for sharing your experience in such great detail. It will definitely be very helpful for other exam aspirants!

Ria von der Wartburg wrote:I mean reading the first 6 chapters and constantly trying out all kinds of concepts and things I read with the notepad & command line. That's a really great tip I read here somewhere (and I think they mention it in the book to): to use a simple notepad (no fancy syntax highlighting!) and the command line to write numerous small java programs.

I'm a true advocate of using nothing but your favourite text editor and the command line to create a gazillion of small java classes while preparing for a certification exam. I'm convinced it's certainly was one of the major keys to success. And you proved without any doubt: it definitely is

Ria von der Wartburg wrote:Before the exam started, it said that not all of the questions would be part of the exam score. That's weird. I wonder why they do that. Doesn't make any sense, because now luck becomes a factor.

It has nothing to do with luck! That's just Oracle's standard procedure to test some new questions before adding them to the exam question pool. So it could be Oracle has written some new questions and to assure their quality, these questions are added randomly to your exam. Because these questions look just like normal questions, you'll try your best to answer it correctly. But these new questions are unscored, so it doesn't matter if your answer was correct or not. But this way Oracle gets valuable feedback about these new questions. If 1000 exam candidates answered such a question and 600 answered them wrong, the question will probably be revised (or simply garbage collected). If for example 450 candidates answer B (the correct answer) and another 450 answer C, it could be an indication that answer C is too confusing/misleading (e.g. poorly formulated) and then answer C could be rephrased or replaced with another answer. Hope it makes some sense.

Kind regards,
The wonderful Roel
 
Ria von der Wartburg
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Hahaha, another cow - how cool!! I feel very honored - Thanks a lot Wonderful Roel!
 
Roel De Nijs
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Ria von der Wartburg wrote:Wonderful Roel

I think that should definitely be my superhero name Wonderful Roel will make a cute couple with Wonder Woman
 
Ria von der Wartburg
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Hey, you could go by that name in the OCA/OCP JP8-book. That would make it official
 
Roel De Nijs
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Ria von der Wartburg wrote:Hey, you could go by that name in the OCA/OCP JP8-book.

I'll think about that. But getting a much better pciture by then has the highest priority
 
Ria von der Wartburg
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Right on! As a superhero you have every right to be vain.
 
akshay naidu
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This morning I scored 93% in the OCAJP7.

he congrats .. reading your experience will increase my score by more than 10% i think
i am planning to take this exam in next 6 days..so far I've finished reading 5th chapter of k&b book and will try to finish the last chapter today itself so that i can start with enthuware mock from tomorrow. i hope I'll score good in them and also finish mock in next 5 days..
and yes i have just read the book..
can you advice me anything else for the prep.
 
Connor Van Elswyk
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Congrats Ria!

I took the OCA JP7 and unfortunately walked away with only a 55%.

This was after reading and noting Oracles Java Trail as well as a successfully completing a preparation course by Transcender. There were only two exams offered in the preparation course and 180 total questions. I scored a 73% after completing the Java Trail and Transcender flash cards and a 91% after completing the full course from Transcender.

I'll be using your approach for my next attempt!

Best,

-Connor

 
Roel De Nijs
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Hi Connor Van Elswyk,

First of all, a warm welcome to CodeRanch!

Connor Van Elswyk wrote:and a 91% after completing the full course from Transcender.

Did you take the same exams twice and scored 91% at the 2nd attempt? Or did you do the 1st exam (and scored 73%) and after completing the full course you took the 2nd exam and scored 91% (on 1st attempt)?

Kind regards,
Roel
 
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