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Failed 4 mock tests and totally confused on next steps for OCA Java 7

 
Jain Amit
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Hello All,

I am really disturbed and need some guidance from fellow mates.

1. I have 8 - 10 years of pure C programming experience. I know basic Java & Python programming. Few months ago I decided to prepare for OCA - Java 7 and was planning to take tests in Sep/Oct. I have read K & B 7 and Mala Gupta's book and have a fair understanding of Java. I can easily write and understand Java code at an intermediate level.

2. Mock Tests and scores:-
Mala Gupta's - 50%
K & B Test 1 - 55%
K & B Test 2 - 45%
Enthuware Test 1 - 55%

The pattern followed was take a test, review the test and the mistakes made and take another test after 10 days.

3. While reading the book my mind thinks that it has understood the concepts but while answering the test questions I get either confused or I am not able to identify the tricks in the questions.

4. Looking at test reports it appears all my Java fundamentals are poor. I am right now is a state of shock as I cannot understand what to do next.

Any help/suggestions are welcome.

Thanks
Amit

 
Guillermo Ishi
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It sounds like you are trying to steal something I own

I had to learn to take the test before I could do anything. In reviewing the mock results I would always find I missed a question that I knew the answer to because of how the question was presented. So I decided I just wasn't going to miss anymore questions I knew the answer to. I eventually passed the actual exam with 100%. Not really, but I did pass it.
 
Guillermo Ishi
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I typed "missed a question" but I meant I missed multiple questions per test that way. Maybe a dozen to start. Plus professionally I never unravel hairballs mentally I just step through it with a debugger, so I had to learn to not lose my place stepping through those mentally.
 
nick woodward
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Jain Amit wrote:
The pattern followed was take a test, review the test and the mistakes made and take another test after 10 days.


How are you reviewing the mistakes made? At 55% I would reread all of K&B7 (I find it the more technical of the two books). I also thought I knew all the topics, a second read really did highlight that I didn't.

 
Guillermo Ishi
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^Right. Personally, not only did I review them to the point where I understood them completely, but real often I would copy/paste part of the explanation at the bottom into a text file that I kept and before I took the next test I would run through that text file. It would probably be even better to write that by hand in a notebook.
 
Roel De Nijs
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Jain Amit wrote:I am really disturbed and need some guidance from fellow mates.

Don't be. The OCA exam requires a good and solid understanding of Java and OO basics. It's a tough exam.

Jain Amit wrote:1. I have 8 - 10 years of pure C programming experience. I know basic Java & Python programming. Few months ago I decided to prepare for OCA - Java 7 and was planning to take tests in Sep/Oct. I have read K & B 7 and Mala Gupta's book and have a fair understanding of Java. I can easily write and understand Java code at an intermediate level.

A fair understanding is not enough. The exam requires to have a good and solid understanding. And don't forget: if you write code, you'll probably use an IDE. But on the exam you don't have an IDE to help you with spotting compiler errors, You are completely on your own. That's why it's often recommended to not use an IDE while you are studying/preparing for the OCA exam.

Jain Amit wrote:The pattern followed was take a test, review the test and the mistakes made and take another test after 10 days.

So after taking a test you only reviewed the mistakes you made without additional studying and 10 days later you took the next test? If you don't study in between tests, your knowledge and understanding will never improve (and thus your scores won't improve neither).

Jain Amit wrote:4. Looking at test reports it appears all my Java fundamentals are poor. I am right now is a state of shock as I cannot understand what to do next.

You should keep studying and working hard. There's nothing wrong with reading a study guide more than once. And you could also purchase a complementary study guide and/or another resource (e.g. the Oracle Java tutorials). Write boatloads of code snippets using your favourite text editor and javac/java. Each code snippet can then be the starting point to do plenty of experiments. Preparing for a certification exam (and learning a programming language) is like driving a car: you don't learn to drive a car by reading a book, you have to get your hands dirty.

Jain Amit wrote:Any help/suggestions are welcome.

Here's another topic about someone who was also struggling to prepare for the OCA exam but in the end he passed. So it already contains a lot of tips and tricks you can use in your preparation and it could be a mental boost as well. You are definitely not the only one who's having some difficulties while preparing for the OCA exam.

Hope it helps!
Kind regards,
Roel
 
Roel De Nijs
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Guillermo Ishi wrote:Personally, not only did I review them to the point where I understood them completely, but real often I would copy/paste part of the explanation at the bottom into a text file that I kept and before I took the next test I would run through that text file. It would probably be even better to write that by hand in a notebook.

That was my main study technique I used when going to school. I made handwritten summaries for almost every course. That helped me very well by memorizing stuff. But as you said: it's very personal.
 
Jain Amit
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Thanks guys for words of wisdom.

My main motive of taking OCA is to add it to my resume and switch my domain i.e. move from embedded programming to Enterprise/Big Data world. I analysed 35% questions of my last test and found either I don't understand the concepts fundamentally or few silly mistakes creep up. I also get bogged down by analysing my test results and re-reading K&B again. Maybe I am not mentally prepared for this right now. I may rethink on taking OCA but not decided yet.

Any suggestions on how to switch domain without taking OCA? I am facing mid-life career crisis and need to spend some time in another domain to continue the learning.

Thanks
Amit
 
Suhasini Na
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Hi Amit,

I also faced the same problem as you. You can go through my test experience http://www.coderanch.com/t/656969/sr/certification/passed-OCAJP. It might be helpful.
There are many who got low scores in the mock tests and that is the way to tell you that you are not prepared yet. It saves money and makes you a stronger test-taker + programmer.

Good luck...!

Thanks
Suhasini
 
Guillermo Ishi
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Nearly all of my career has been in embedded as well. OO didn't come up very much and it was mostly straight C and assembly. And lots and lots of electronics. It still love that most but it's not as practical as work as it once was. Although it may come back someday in "the internet of things".

The main thing is to not get discouraged. My only good quality is I will not quit, no matter what! Except if I lose interest, and then it's justified. You are probably the same way on your projects and you have to think of the ocajp as a project like that. I actually had to take it three times before I passed. The first time I just thought I would pass because I could write Java programs. I got 40% and I think the test was considerably easier then than it is now. So in figuring out WTH happened, I discovered this site and through it Entuware. I got 40% on the first Enthuware test. Then lots of studying later I took ocajp a second time but the style of the questions was now different from before, plus the test conditions were terrible, and I ended up failing by some tiny amount, 3 points, 1 point, I don't remember. I was so determined that I would have spent my last nickel and everything I could make selling pencils to take it until I passed it. I don't know how beneficial the certification is, but I wasn't going to let it get me. Leitner mode in Enthuware was really helpful to me. I had all the questions in the last two columns at one point. I think by the time you have done that, you'll be in a position to get 80+ on the Last Day Test. Very simple. The books don't cover the material in the same way, and I think it's good to use Enthuware itself as study material (in Leitner mode). If you have a question that extends from some test question then write some code to answer that. Most important, forbid yourself from making oversight mistakes on the tests. Change the way you think, or whatever it takes to do that.
 
Roel De Nijs
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Jain Amit wrote:My main motive of taking OCA is to add it to my resume and switch my domain i.e. move from embedded programming to Enterprise/Big Data world. I analysed 35% questions of my last test and found either I don't understand the concepts fundamentally or few silly mistakes creep up. I also get bogged down by analysing my test results and re-reading K&B again. Maybe I am not mentally prepared for this right now. I may rethink on taking OCA but not decided yet.

First of all, do not get discouraged! Learning a new programming language can be a very daunting task. And you do not only want to learn a new programming language but also take one of the certification exams. So that requires even a more advanced and more in-depth knowledge than what's needed to write Java programmers. Even some Java developers (with 1-2 years of experience) fail these mock exams on their first attempt. Simply because it's not enough to know how you write Java programs to pass a certification exam, you need a very good and solid understanding of Java and OO basics to pass the OCA exam.
In this topic you can read about another rancher who was also struggling to prepare for the OCA exam. And after 4 months of studying really hard, he finally passed the exam! So this topic is definitely worth reading as it contains tons of advice to study and prepare for the OCA exam.

Jain Amit wrote:Any suggestions on how to switch domain without taking OCA? I am facing mid-life career crisis and need to spend some time in another domain to continue the learning.

Here and here you'll find some advice to switch domain. It doesn't really matter if you are OCA certified or not, because an OCA certification won't guarantee you a job at all. But it might make the difference between some equivalent candidates. It shows different positive aspects for a programmer: eager to learn, want to study and improve your knowledge (in your own time), you are up for a challenge, you have an eye for details,... But you probably not get a job just because you are certified. So a certification is never a guarantee for a job, but it may help turn the scale in your favor.

Hope it helps!
Kind regards,
Roel
 
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