--> 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:
OCA/OCP Java SE 7 Programmer I & II Study Guide by Kathy Sierra & Bert Bates
Enthuware Mock Exams OCA SE7
Java Language Specification
ca 171h concentrated study time (excluding all the times I read on my phone, waiting for the bus & stuff)
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.