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Is watching Stanford's CS106A videos enough?

 
Naziru Gelajo
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Enough for the OCA Java Programmer Cert? I mean in addtion to also doing the assignments found here: http://web.stanford.edu/class/archive/cs/cs106a/cs106a.1134/assignments.html

 
Scott Selikoff
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Depends if the course emphasizes language syntax. In my experience teaching at multiple universities (both Ivy and State), most do not. In other words, they tend to focus on "Does the program compile, run, and fulfill the assignment?" rather than "Does the program use good Java syntax?".

Generally, you need to read a book or take a course geared toward a certification exam, as the exam may cover topics not often seen in every day coding.
 
Naziru Gelajo
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Scott Selikoff wrote:Depends if the course emphasizes language syntax. In my experience teaching at multiple universities (both Ivy and State), most do not. In other words, they tend to focus on "Does the program compile, run, and fulfill the assignment?" rather than "Does the program use good Java syntax?".

Generally, you need to read a book or take a course geared toward a certification exam, as the exam may cover topics not often seen in every day coding.


I see got it, syntax is extremely important on the exam. Thanks!
 
Scott Selikoff
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Naziru Gelajo wrote:i see got it, syntax is extremely important on the exam. Thanks!


In fact, the OCA exam is almost entirely syntax-based questions, often testing whether you think a snippet of code will compile. The OCP exam deviates from this a little more with some conceptual design patterns and design principles, but a good chunk of that exam is also syntax-based.
 
nick woodward
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I've done a reasonable chunk of this course, and unfortunately the answer is a definite no, although I did enjoy the course and plan on going back to it.

 
Roel De Nijs
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Naziru Gelajo wrote:Enough for the OCA Java Programmer Cert?

I had a quick glance at the course and different assignments, and I have to agree with all the other replies: it's definitely not enough to prepare for the OCA certification exam. But you can definitely use this course and the assignment as complementary resources while preparing for the OCA certification exam. I would strongly advice to purchase a study guide to use as a primary resource. It's recommended to buy a study guide which is especially written for the version you want to take. So if you want to take the exams for Java 8, you should definitely buy a study guide covering OCAJP8 and/or OCPJP8. In the OcajpFaq (besides other very useful information) and this thread you'll find an overview of all available resources (study guides, mock exams,...) to thorougly prepare yourself for the OCA certification exam. And on the OcajpWallOfFame you'll find plenty of (links to) experiences from other ranchers (including resources they have used). So it can be useful to determine which resources are useful (and which are not).

If you are a Java greenhorn (or want to learn the language first), you might benefit from reading a book on Java first (rather than a certification study guide). Many alternatives are available: Head First Java, Thinking in Java, Core Java, Deitel & Deitel, and so on. Other great resources are this forum of course and you also have the (free) Oracle Java Tutorials.

Hope it helps!
Kind regards,
Roel
 
nick woodward
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Not to argue too much with Roel , you could use it as practice - but it's worth noting that it purposefully 'waters down' the normal java syntax and structure in order to allow focus on code design (via the ACM library), which is kind of the opposite of what you need for the OCA. I would think that would add a lot of work for not a huge amount of gain.

Dr Mehran is amazing though, and his lectures and the core book, the art and science of java, is great for awt, animation and a whole other host of things.
 
Naziru Gelajo
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Thanks everyone for your amazing responses.
 
Scott Selikoff
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nick woodward wrote:Not to argue too much with Roel , you could use it as practice - but it's worth noting that it purposefully 'waters down' the normal java syntax and structure in order to allow focus on code design (via the ACM library), which is kind of the opposite of what you need for the OCA. I would think that would add a lot of work for not a huge amount of gain.


That's true of nearly all academic courses. As I said in my earlier post, I've taught at many universities and they tend to focus algorithm and theory, for good reason. While Java syntax rules can change from version to version, a linked list is still a linked list, even 20 years later. The role of most colleges or universities is to teach you computer science theory, not necessarily how to actually write software. In fact, very few computer science professors are even well-versed (or have recent experience) in professional software development.

Unfortunately, it's also why most kids coming out of school write god-awful code, as new graduates need to be trained how to code at a professional level. If you are studying computer science and plan to become a software developer, I strongly recommend you take a Software Engineer course, or database applications course, if you're school offers it. At my school these were seen as "less prestigious" courses (I went to a school that focused on theory) but I learned more from that course than most of my other courses... in part because we actualliy built something.

Of course, you need to learn "why" you are building a house, before you can understand "how" you are building the house and "with what tools", so courses like this are extremely important to your education. Relying solely on them to build a house, though, would lead to a pretty crooked house!
 
nick woodward
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it's nice to know that doing it this way may have some benefits

i did a higher level course looking at design, software systems, project management etc etc, and quickly realised i needed to learn to code properly (bit annoyed it wasn't offered to be honest) - so have since been studying for the OCA, building a tool for a friend to parse xml, and a small customer management program for another friend's garage involving a bit of sql and obviously swing and event handling (for both).

i'm hoping that will be enough, but i'm starting to lose hope. it seems the bar is set very high to get in to even entry level programming or design. any tips?!

nick
 
Scott Selikoff
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nick woodward wrote:i'm hoping that will be enough, but i'm starting to lose hope. it seems the bar is set very high to get in to even entry level programming or design. any tips?


None! Other, than possibly nepotism if that's an option

The sad truth is most companies avoid kids fresh out of college for a reason... and it's not just programming skills. They rarely know about development process (requirements, design, development, testing) or waterfall/sprint/scrum methodologies. They also may have "difficulty" adjusting to a 9-5 (or 8-6) life style.

Case in point, I graduated with a double major and masters from an Ivy and I had trouble finding my first job. I had even done multiple internships I was told repeatedly that my resume looked amazing but without experience, they could not hire me. Once I had some experience though, finding jobs became far easier. Helps to live near a city though!
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Internships are experience! I've had good experiences with summer interns and entry level folks.
 
Roel De Nijs
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nick woodward wrote:Not to argue too much with Roel , you could use it as practice - but it's worth noting that it purposefully 'waters down' the normal java syntax and structure in order to allow focus on code design (via the ACM library), which is kind of the opposite of what you need for the OCA. I would think that would add a lot of work for not a huge amount of gain.

After looking more closely to the assignments (even opening a few of them and looking at the actual code) I have to agree with Nick: the code for the assignments relies heavily on an external library. And for the OCA exam it's only about the JDK. So due to this library the benefit (gain) will probably be pretty low. So if you are looking for additional little code challenges while preparing for the OCA certification exam, you'll probably benefit much more from HackerRank (or a similar website).

nick woodward wrote:i'm hoping that will be enough, but i'm starting to lose hope. it seems the bar is set very high to get in to even entry level programming or design. any tips?!

In this topic you'll find some advice about an entry-level Java position.
 
nick woodward
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hmm, i guess i could try and get an internship, but from what i've seen they are few and far between.

i'm not even sure that my knowledge hits even that bar. i might have to just continue doing this part time, and maybe look for something that i can move into a more technical role later down the line.

 
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