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Some advice about preparing for OCA/OCP exams

 
Brandon Belisle
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Hey Scott,

Thank you for your information provided. I myself am also looking into becoming OCA/OCP Certified. The task to me feels like a large achievement. I love Java yet for some reason I always feel like I don't know enough, or that I say I know more than I actually feel. I have heard multiple people say that in your studies to becoming ready for the OCA/OCP tests you will learn more about the language than you thought you would. I guess my question to this all is where to start? I have the latest Oracle provided OCA/OCP Exam Prep book (forgot the full title) and I know I can sit and read each chapter hounding myself on the code and follow a study pattern as most do. However is there more I should do to prepare myself? Example Exams by chance? What do you suggest?

Also if a new version of the Exam comes out does the previous study guide book provided by Oracle still usable for a newer exam study? For example if I use a book for Java 7 OCA/OCP Exam Prep for a Java 8 OCA/OCP Cert exam?

(This post originated in this thread)
 
Roel De Nijs
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Hi Brandon Belisle,

First of all, a warm welcome to CodeRanch!

Brandon Belisle wrote:I guess my question to this all is where to start? I have the latest Oracle provided OCA/OCP Exam Prep book (forgot the full title) and I know I can sit and read each chapter hounding myself on the code and follow a study pattern as most do. However is there more I should do to prepare myself? Example Exams by chance? What do you suggest?

Like you already have heard from different people, the OCA7/OCA8 exam is a tough exam. So many people struggle with passing this exam and ask for advice in this forum. So using the search function of this website, you'll find plenty of topics which have excellent advice to study and prepare for the OCA exam. Here is one, here you'll find another one and a third one can be found here.
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). In the OcpjpFaq and OcpjpWallOfFame you'll find similar information for the OCP certification.

Brandon Belisle wrote:Also if a new version of the Exam comes out does the previous study guide book provided by Oracle still usable for a newer exam study? For example if I use a book for Java 7 OCA/OCP Exam Prep for a Java 8 OCA/OCP Cert exam?

Yes, you can! But keep in mind that the exam objectives for both exams probably will be different. So you need to do some additional studying yourself using other resources (online tutorials, articles, these forums,...) and/or purchase a study guide for the OCA8 exam. Here you'll find a mapping of the exam objectives of OCAJP7 vs OCAJP8.

Hope it helps!
Kind regards,
Roel
 
Scott Selikoff
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Roel De Nijs wrote:
Brandon Belisle wrote:Also if a new version of the Exam comes out does the previous study guide book provided by Oracle still usable for a newer exam study? For example if I use a book for Java 7 OCA/OCP Exam Prep for a Java 8 OCA/OCP Cert exam?

Yes, you can! But keep in mind that the exam objectives for both exams probably will be different. So you need to do some additional studying yourself using other resources (online tutorials, articles, these forums,...) and/or purchase a study guide for the OCA8 exam. Here you'll find a mapping of the exam objectives of OCAJP7 vs OCAJP8.


With respect, I'm going to disagree with Roel here. While the older study guys are useful for learning about Java and expanding your education, they are not great for using on the newer versions of the exams for three reasons:

1) You may end up studying things in the old exam that (while interesting) are no longer on the exam. Worse yet, some of these topics may be stuff that no one should use anymore. For example, after NIO.2 added stream methods in Java 8, I (almost always) recommend using it over DirectoryStream, which was required for Java 7. These cases aren't extremely common though.

2) You will have to do a lot of careful analysis to know what pieces are missing in the newer version (like we had to do). IMHO, mine as well take advantage of the time we put in comparing the various exams, then doing it yourself.

3) Practice exams! While most books come with practice exams, its not going to help you if they are for the wrong exam.

For the OCA, which is far easier than the OCP exam, you can probably get away with a Java 7 study guide and some online help, since the difference in topics is small enough. You're not going to score a perfect, but you can probably pass. On the other hand, if you are taking the OCP 8 exam, I can almost guarantee studying solely from an OCP7 study guide is *not* going to allow you to pass the exam. The OCP 8 exam is quite broad and includes lambda/streams throughout, so you really an OCP 8 exam guide or equivalent to pass.

 
Scott Selikoff
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Brandon Belisle wrote:Thank you for your information provided. I myself am also looking into becoming OCA/OCP Certified. The task to me feels like a large achievement. I love Java yet for some reason I always feel like I don't know enough, or that I say I know more than I actually feel. I have heard multiple people say that in your studies to becoming ready for the OCA/OCP tests you will learn more about the language than you thought you would. I guess my question to this all is where to start? I have the latest Oracle provided OCA/OCP Exam Prep book (forgot the full title) and I know I can sit and read each chapter hounding myself on the code and follow a study pattern as most do. However is there more I should do to prepare myself? Example Exams by chance? What do you suggest?


Best recommendation? Study with a friend. The first time I prepared and took a Java cert exam I did it with some co-workers. Nothing quite like studying in a group to help keep you on focus and have someone to discuss topics with.

Second best thing to do to prepare is read, read, read, then take practice tests. Although as we write in our guide... don't take practice tests until you are absolutely ready. If you take them too frequently, you run the risk of over-testing, where you start to memorize the answers without even reading the question.

Per your original question... before taking my first exam (all those years ago..) I was an OK Java programmer. I could write code that compiled and ran, but I really did not have knowledge of how to design a new class, especially not code that others will have to pick up and use. For example, why mark variables private/protected, when public lets you access it from anywhere! After studying for the exam, I really felt way more confident in my day-to-day programming that the patterns, modifiers, and structure I was writing was the best possible implementation for a class.

In my experience, yes, studying for certs makes you a better programmer although others sometimes disagree. There are some people who take the exam solely because they think it will get them a new job, and those people are usually disappointed. While acquiring a certification can help your career, you can't coast solely on the certification. It's just a part of your experience and training that helps people evaluate your skill set.

Side note: Oracle does not provide a prep book, so not sure which book you have.
 
Roel De Nijs
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Scott Selikoff wrote:With respect, I'm going to disagree with Roel here. While the older study guys are useful for learning about Java and expanding your education, they are not great for using on the newer versions of the exams for three reasons:

That's indeed the general rule of thumb. And I will always recommend to use a study guide which is especially written for the Java version you want to get certified on. But as you have also suggested: for OCA 7 and OCA 8 differences in topics are pretty small. So if you use an OCA7 study guide and do some additional studying of the new OCA8 exam topics, you'll pass the OCA8 exam with flying colours. And that's why I only mentioned the OCA exams in my post (I would never recommend the opposite: using a newer study guide to prepare for an older version of the exam)

PS. If you don't know what's NIO.2 and/or DirectoryStream, you don't have to worry at all! Both are definitely not on the OCA exam
 
Roel De Nijs
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Scott Selikoff wrote:Side note: Oracle does not provide a prep book, so not sure which book you have.

Probably the very famous K&B7 study guide (it has both "Oracle" and "Oracle Press" on the front cover).
 
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