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passed OCA 8

 
Ramya Subraamanian
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I passed OCA 8 with 80%. Though the real exam experience was not so good -link...I had a blast preparing for the exam.
I am newbie and have no professional experience writing code in java. I just knew a little syntax in it.The last time I worked with Java was when I did my Advanced Data Structures Lab, a year ago. I started preparing for OCA 8 , 3 months ago... I have strict deadlines , so could not really dedicate much time into it during weekdays. I just studied during weekends. counting out the 5 days holidaying and the 6 days I was down with a bad flu.. would have spent around 20-25 days specifically for OCA preparation.

Resources used:
OCA 8 Sybex Guide by Jeanne and Scott. Had an amazing time reading it. All the chapter assessments were really tricky and thoroughly tested the concepts I learnt. I had lot of doubts when I did them first. I scored only between 60-70 %. But it was much easier when I reread the chapters and took the test again. each line and code in the book is important and it covers all the objectives. I would give 10/10 for the Sybex guide.
Assessment 2nd attempt%
chapter 1 : 95
chapter 2 : 100
chapter 3: 97
chapter 4: 98
chapter 5: 95
chapter 6: 94

Just took tests from OCA Java SE8 Study guide by Robert Ligouri. I was not able to answer the questions which had new API's(which I hadnt learnt). But the rest of the questions from known concepts were straight forward. The Exam software was pretty good in this one. But there were a few mistakes in the questions.

Referred to OCA 7 study guide by K&B for concepts like Garbage collection and Pass by value.

Code ranch Forum: I read all the questions from other ranchers and tried answering a few of them..This way, I knew if I was making any mistakes in the concepts. I also posted a lot of questions and had them cleared. All the threads suggested by Roel were really worth reading.

Mock Exams I took:
I first took the whiz labs diagnostic test and got only 69%. So I went through all the topics again and then did the Mock.

Diagnostic test: 95%
Test 1 : 85%
Test 2: 81%
Final Test:83%

The Sybex Mock Exams were much tougher and trickier when compared to whiz labs

Mock test 1: 75%
Mock Test 2: 78%
Mock Test 3: 80%

RoadBlocks I faced:
  • I am not good at memorizing things. so could not remember the proper syntax of the API's. And also there are too many API's in String builder,Date,ArrayList,Arrays...I was confused about which ones to remember and which ones to skip.
  • I had trouble understanding statements in the questions..as I am not a native english speaker and having 2 mother tongues made my life more complicated
  • I struggled with Garbage collection questions...but things became clearer after Roel's explanation. link
  • Time- was the biggest issue. I could not foresee how much time it took to finish the exam because whiz labs is web-based and it takes time to load the page.And I have friends all around me, so was frequently disturbed .I would pause the test and take breaks from the exam. So it took atleast 20 mins more to finish the exam.

  • In the exam ..from the questions I answered I saw ..(1-66)
  • complicated questions about Inheritance casting.
  • An array like a beautiful tic tac toe game. First it looked really tough. But its really easy ...5 mins spent trying to figure that out.
  • Tough questions on loops.. Its like you are given a statement, then asked to find out which loop would suit that statement.That was time consuming.
  • There was a tough question on Garbage collection with Pass by value.
  • Questions on promotion and conversions.
  • There was question with removeif from lambda, which was pretty simple.
  • Easy Questions on Date and Time API.
  • No Questions on default, static methods of interfaces
  • I had atleast 2 or 3 questions with pass by value, which was tricky and interesting.
  • Atleast 5 questions on using this and super , this() , super(). Accessing this() from a static context.
  • 5 questions relating to straight forward loops like for, while, do
  • All of the statement questions were vague and confusing
  • question on Integer caching.
  • A tough question about masking the credit card numbers with StringBuider API's. you had to choose from different operations.
  • overloading questions

  • and unfortunately all the questions which I had not answered were pretty simple (67-77)..there were questions on
  • simple switch
  • string operations testing the immutability concept.
  • encapsulation..where you had to make the fields private.
  • legal identifiers.
  • identifying correct method signatures
  • unreachable code
  • question on try syntax.
  • checking overriding rules.
  • static imports

  • Mistakes I did in the Exam which made me lose time:

  • Writing down everything, while trying to work out the answers.
  • Rechecking the answer, just to be sure. I spent a lot of time on loops.
  • Panicking at a bloated code snippet.
  • other external issues : Not sleeping well before the exam. Skipping dinner and bfast. I felt queasy throughout the exam.

  • I thought there would be an alert or pop-up, 10 or 15 mins before the time was over, but there wasn't any.The biggest blunder was not keeping track of the time. I would say the exam was a little harder than whiz labs but much easier than Sybex mock exams.My Next Step is OCP and I am planning to learn Hibernate framework parallely.

    Thank you for your guidance Jeanne and Scott.

    Thanks to all fellow ranchers for helping me out.

    And I saved the best for the last. A special thanks to Roel De Nijs for patiently correcting all my mistakes and clearing my doubts.I loved answering all your pop-questions, they made me understand the concepts better. I have a never seen a person so selfless and with such in-depth knowledge of the subject. You are the best . And yeah, you should write a book. I'd buy it and recommend my friends to buy it
     
    nick woodward
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    sounds like the test center was a bit of a shambles!!!

    but nicely done on passing well, regardless of the missed questions.

    i definitely feel your pain on the whole 'writing things down' aspect. it is very easy to get caught out time wise - i did, but got lucky with spotting a few easy shortcuts at the end. think minimal notes should be stressed, or at least practice encouraged, to boost speed.

    but anyway....
     
    Roel De Nijs
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    Hi Ramya,

    Congratulations champion! Great achievement Now it's time to relax a bit and have a (well-deserved) (or 2 or 3). And if you want to spoil yourself have a Belgian beer, our beers are the best of the world

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Other ranchers will definitely benefit! Have a cow!

    Don't forget to add your name to the OcajpWallOfFame!

    Kind regards,
    Roel
     
    Roel De Nijs
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    Ramya Subraamanian wrote:Time- was the biggest issue. I could not foresee how much time it took to finish the exam because whiz labs is web-based and it takes time to load the page.And I have friends all around me, so was frequently disturbed .I would pause the test and take breaks from the exam. So it took atleast 20 mins more to finish the exam.

    Is there any reason why you didn't purchase the Enthuware mock exams? Because this software provides an almost identical simulation of the test environment of the actual exam. So taking a few mock exams would have made improved your knowledge (as their questions are also very good) but would made you also more familiar with the exam environment and would make you more time aware.

    Ramya Subraamanian wrote:and unfortunately all the questions which I had not answered were pretty simple (67-77).

    And if you were not able to answer these questions, how do you know the tested topics/concepts from these questions? This experience illustrates why we suggest to work with a strict time limit for each question during the first iteration. Now you have missed 10-11 questions, so that's 10-11 points gone. But you spent 5 minutes on a much more complex one. If you have skipped that one after a minute, you'll probably answered that question incorrectly, but with this additional 4 minutes you might have answered 7-8 of these pretty simple questions at the end correctly, increasing your score with 6-7 points.

    Ramya Subraamanian wrote:Panicking at a bloated code snippet.

    It seems you have missed this excellent advice of me

    Ramya Subraamanian wrote:other external issues : Not sleeping well before the exam. Skipping dinner and bfast. I felt queasy throughout the exam.

    Skipping breakfast is probably not a very good idea, because during the exam your brain requires a boatload of energy to answer each and every question correctly.

    Ramya Subraamanian wrote:I thought there would be an alert or pop-up, 10 or 15 mins before the time was over, but there wasn't any.The biggest blunder was not keeping track of the time. I would say the exam was a little harder than whiz labs but much easier than Sybex mock exams.My Next Step is OCP and I am planning to learn Hibernate framework parallely.

    Best of luck with the OCP certification! Please note that the OCP exam is much harder than the OCA exam, because it requires a more in-depth knowledge of a bunch of advanced topics (like generics, concurrency, threads, nio.2,...). So make sure to prepare yourself thoroughly before taking the exam.

    Ramya Subraamanian wrote:And I saved the best for the last. A special thanks to Roel De Nijs for patiently correcting all my mistakes and clearing my doubts.I loved answering all your pop-questions, they made me understand the concepts better. I have a never seen a person so selfless and with such in-depth knowledge of the subject. You are the best . And yeah, you should write a book. I'd buy it and recommend my friends to buy it

    Thanks for these very kind words! These are probably the nicest compliments I've gotten on CodeRanch. Highly appreciated! (It might sound like a biased action but I'll give you another cow for so much kindness and praise)
     
    Paul Anilprem
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    Congratulations, Ramya!!
     
    Ramya Subraamanian
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    Is there any reason why you didn't purchase the Enthuware mock exams?

    By the time I came to know about Enthuware tests,I had already purchased whiz labs. I wrote around 9 mock exams of whiz labs, sybex and Robert Ligouri's OCA exams .I thought that would be enough and all exams would be the same. I saw one of my friend's enthuware tests yesterday, I was actually surprised to see the similarity of the questions and the environment(especially the last day test). Next time, I will go for enthuware.

    And if you were not able to answer these questions, how do you know the tested topics/concepts from these questions?

    After the time got over, and before I clicked on the finish test button. I was able to review all the questions, but I was not able to change/mark the answers. Its some what like you can just see it but not modify the check box/option buttons. I might have taken 5-10 mins to see all the questions. Then clicked on the finish button. I remembered Nick saying, you could do that only for marked questions. But I could actually see all the questions (I think there was a review all button).

    But you spent 5 minutes on a much more complex one. If you have skipped that one after a minute, you'll probably answered that question incorrectly, but with this additional 4 minutes you might have answered 7-8 of these pretty simple questions at the end correctly, increasing your score with 6-7 points.

    yeah, I never thought in those lines ..I'll have to improve my speed, accuracy and judgement.
     
    Roel De Nijs
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    Ramya Subraamanian wrote:After the time got over, and before I clicked on the finish test button. I was able to review all the questions, but I was not able to change/mark the answers. Its some what like you can just see it but not modify the check box/option buttons. I might have taken 5-10 mins to see all the questions. Then clicked on the finish button. I remembered Nick saying, you could do that only for marked questions. But I could actually see all the questions (I think there was a review all button).

    That was indeed what Nick (and I) were wondering about in this topic. Thanks for clearing our doubts by sharing this information. Really helpful. Have another cow!
     
    nick woodward
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    as far as i remember it certainly *looked* like you could change them - although I never tried. makes slightly more sense that you can't, but its still a very odd feature.

    i didn't see a 'review all' button, but it may have been there. however the actual text at the top of the screen specifically talked of reviewing marked questions, rather than all of them. as my invigilator said - they have a schedule to keep, they couldn't let me sit around reviewing questions anyway!

    and yes +1 for enthuware if you take the OCP.

    Nick

    ps - i actually work better without breakfast
     
    Ramya Subraamanian
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    but its still a very odd feature.

    Yeah Nick, it is a little weird to sit and look at the questions, after the exam is over. In my center, the invigilator did not check on me even after 2.5 hrs. I had to go and tell him that I finished the test.

    I have a suggestion about Sybex mock exams. It would be good if there was a option to view the "previous question" . Sometimes if we click twice on the "Next question" button, a question gets skipped and we cannot go back and view the previous question.So it goes without being answered. I think we cannot even view bookmarked question. It just asks for grading after the last question. This happens with practice exams only.

    Thank you Paul.

    Thank you for the cows Roel.

     
    Scott Selikoff
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    First off, congratulations on the great score! Good job! Jeanne and I are thrilled out book was able to help. Since you liked our book so much, why not leave a review on Amazon telling about your experience? It helps other people deciding which material to use for the exam.
     
    Roel De Nijs
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    nick woodward wrote:i didn't see a 'review all' button, but it may have been there.

    In the actual exam user interface, you have (beside the "Finish Test" button) three buttons to review questions, one of them being the "Review All" button.

    nick woodward wrote:ps - i actually work better without breakfast

    Maybe drink less beer (or even none at all) during breakfast
     
    Roel De Nijs
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    Ramya Subraamanian wrote:I have a suggestion about Sybex mock exams. It would be good if there was a option to view the "previous question" . Sometimes if we click twice on the "Next question" button, a question gets skipped and we cannot go back and view the previous question.So it goes without being answered. I think we cannot even view bookmarked question. It just asks for grading after the last question. This happens with practice exams only.

    I think that's a very good suggestion Have a cow! I have already wondered a few times why there is only a "Next question" button. It would make sense to have a "Previous question" button too. I have just contacted Sybex Customer Support and submitted a feature request.
     
    Ramya Subraamanian
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    Scott Selikoff wrote:Since you liked our book so much, why not leave a review on Amazon telling about your experience? It helps other people deciding which material to use for the exam.

    Thank you Scott. Yep, I shall write a review.

    Roel De Nijs wrote:I have just contacted Sybex Customer Support and submitted a feature request.

    Awesome
     
    Roel De Nijs
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    Roel De Nijs wrote:I have just contacted Sybex Customer Support and submitted a feature request.

    I got the following answers from Sybex Customer Support
    Sybex Customer Support wrote:I will be happy to pass along your suggestion to the content team.
    Sybex Customer Support wrote:This has been sent to the product manager for consideration. Thank you for taking your time to submit this to us.
    So it might be available in the (near) future (or it might not). Let's hope for the first
     
    Mushfiq Mammadov
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    Congrats, Ramya

    Roel De Nijs wrote:
    Ramya Subraamanian wrote:I have a suggestion about Sybex mock exams. It would be good if there was a option to view the "previous question" . Sometimes if we click twice on the "Next question" button, a question gets skipped and we cannot go back and view the previous question.So it goes without being answered. I think we cannot even view bookmarked question. It just asks for grading after the last question. This happens with practice exams only.

    I think that's a very good suggestion Have a cow! I have already wondered a few times why there is only a "Next question" button. It would make sense to have a "Previous question" button too. I have just contacted Sybex Customer Support and submitted a feature request.


    In this thread Jeanne offered me to report it to Wiley directly. I reported the similar issue about 9 months ago. 1 and 2 issues were solved but 3 and 4 not yet. I hope this issue will be solved after your report, Roel. It is important feature for sybex test bank.

     
    Ramya Subraamanian
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    Thank you Mushfiq.

    Mushfiq Mammadov wrote: I reported the similar issue about 9 months ago.


    I was actually wondering, how you would have missed this issue. Seems you havent . Yeah, lets hope it gets resolved.
     
    Scott Selikoff
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    Ramya Subraamanian wrote:Thank you Scott. Yep, I shall write a review.


    Just read the review, excellent write up! Think it will definitely help some people deciding which book to get.
     
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