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Preparation advice for Certification Exam

 
Mark Justison
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Hi,

I'm bearing down on the date where I am going to take my test (September 11th). As I still have about 6 weeks to prepare, I want to make sure I'm using that time wisely so I can pass this thing.
I've taken 3 enthuware mock tests so far with the following scores: 50, 67, 61. It shows improvement but not enough to fill me with confidence. The first thing I've planned on doing is up the amount of tests I take to one per week until the actual test.
These prior tests were taken at a staggered rate with maybe a month or more between them. As I have a lot more free time these next 6 weeks I feel confident that I can take a mock test, review what areas need reviewing and retake on a weekly basis.
Tonight I plan on taking one of the two K&B tests that were supplied with the book so I don't burn through all my enthuware tests.

Could anyone share some advice on how they prepared for that final push, particularly if their test scores weren't so fantastic? I think it has as much to do with the frequency of taking the mock tests as it does just outright study and writing bits of code. It's helping me overcome the anxiety of
taking the actual test and giving me some good test-taking strategies so I don't feel that a week per test is too often. If anything it pushes me to focus even more of my time per day toward preparation.

Any thoughts would be appreciated!

Thanks!
-Mark
 
Roel De Nijs
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Hi Mark,

Mark Justison wrote:I've taken 3 enthuware mock tests so far with the following scores: 50, 67, 61. It shows improvement but not enough to fill me with confidence. The first thing I've planned on doing is up the amount of tests I take to one per week until the actual test.

Hmm, those scores are not bad as the Enthuware mock exams are considered to be harder than the real deal. But if you would take the actual exam today, I would give you 50% chance of passing. As a general rule of thumb, scoring consistently 80% on the Enthuware mocks (only 1st attempts count of course) will almost guarantee a pass on the OCA exam.
First thing you have to be sure about is the reason(s) why you are failing the mock exam. Is it because you ran out of time? Is it because you are not familiar with the test taking? Is it because you have one or more gaps in your knowledge (e.g. almost every question on method overriding is wrong)? If you know why you fail the mock exams, you can start spending your time wisely to improve your weaker point(s).

Mark Justison wrote:I'm bearing down on the date where I am going to take my test (September 11th). As I still have about 6 weeks to prepare, I want to make sure I'm using that time wisely so I can pass this thing.

It's good to have a deadline to work towards. It keeps you focused and motivated. But if for some reason you don't feel confident enough to take the exam, you can always reschedule it for free.

Mark Justison wrote:These prior tests were taken at a staggered rate with maybe a month or more between them. As I have a lot more free time these next 6 weeks I feel confident that I can take a mock test, review what areas need reviewing and retake on a weekly basis.
Tonight I plan on taking one of the two K&B tests that were supplied with the book so I don't burn through all my enthuware tests.

Very wise! Keep your Enthuware tests only for assessment purposes only and to get an idea of your current level and knowledge. If you want more mock question practice, take the self test questions, the K&B7 mock exams and/or the Enthuware mock exams you already have finished.

Mark Justison wrote:It's helping me overcome the anxiety of taking the actual test and giving me some good test-taking strategies so I don't feel that a week per test is too often.

One of the useful tips as a test-taking technique: always glance at the answers before you dive into the code. If you don't see "compilation fails" (or something similar), you know you don't have to spend your precious time on assessing the code for compiler errors In this topic you'll find some more advice about how you can analyze a code snippet in the most effective manner.

Hope it helps!
Kind regards,
Roel
 
Mark Justison
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Thanks for the reply! It's certainly made me feel a bit more confident about the proceedings.
Outside of my first test, time never was an issue. I often finished with a good 10 minutes to go over all the questions one last time. I think it's simply gaps in my knowledge. The test-taking panic has mostly worn off
I do have a habit of just diving into code. Glancing at the answers for compiler errors should definitely come sooner than I've been doing it.
I got a 58 on the K&B OCA test 1. It was far more difficult than I had anticipated (not to mention not telling you how many correct answers there were).
Between the 4 remaining enthuware tests that I have, the remaining K&B test and book content, I should be able to prepare without burning through my enthuware tests. I think i'll retake first enthuware test but I might remember some of the answers (I occasionally review the questions so I might skew a retake result).

Thanks again for your advice!
-Mark

 
Mark Justison
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I also noticed the practice tests and Objective-wise tests on the enthuware suite. Are they pulling from the standard test question pool? I haven't tried them but if they're coming from the same list and the standard test I'll probably avoid them.

-Mark
 
Roel De Nijs
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Mark Justison wrote:I do have a habit of just diving into code. Glancing at the answers for compiler errors should definitely come sooner than I've been doing it.

That should be a reflex just before you dive into the code. One of the questions I encountered on the OCA7 exam seemed to have very complex code, so I was already thinking about marking the question for review and continue with the next one. But then I glanced at the answers and then noticed the question was just testing my knowledge about accessing an element in a 2D-array. So although it seemed a very hard question, it was actually a very easy one

Mark Justison wrote:I got a 58 on the K&B OCA test 1. It was far more difficult than I had anticipated (not to mention not telling you how many correct answers there were).

Yeah, not knowing how many correct answers to select is much harder than on the actual exam, because you have to evaluate every possible answer and determine it's correct or not. But that's a very good technique for the actual exam as well. I always check every answer and convince the little voices in my head why an answer is correct or wrong. So if the question states to select 2 correct answers and I have already selected answers A and B, I'll always go over all the other answers as well and tell myself why these are wrong and thus convince myself (and those little voices) I have selected the correct ones

Mark Justison wrote:I think i'll retake first enthuware test but I might remember some of the answers (I occasionally review the questions so I might skew a retake result).

No problem if you retake an (Enthuware or other mock) exam again. Just don't use that exam score to monitor your progress or current level/knowledge and use such a result to determine the readiness for the exam. Because as you said, you could answer questions correctly by memorization instead of knowledge.

Hope it helps!
Kind regards,
Roel
 
Roel De Nijs
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Mark Justison wrote:I also noticed the practice tests and Objective-wise tests on the enthuware suite. Are they pulling from the standard test question pool? I haven't tried them but if they're coming from the same list and the standard test I'll probably avoid them.

You have 1 question bank and two different strategies for attempting the same questions: either in the actual exam format or based on the exam objectives. On the Enthuware website you'll find more detailed information about these two different strategies.

Hope it helps!
Kind regards,
Roel
 
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