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Passed the OCA 7 - How I did it!

 
Jose Lara
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Hello everyone!

As I mentioned before, I will share with you how I studied the OCA exam (1Z0-803). I just passed it with a score of 88% in my first attempt studying for 2 months approximately. I have to mention that I already had previous experience programming in Java, so obviously it would be necessary more studying time for someone who does not have experience in programming or in this particular language.

First of all, I recommend 1000000000% the study guide from Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates. It is one of the best technical books I have ever read and it also covers the 100% of the necessary topics that you need to know for the exam. It will help you if you are also interested to get the OCP.

First part:

Read the book. It does not matter how long it will take to finish it, but be sure that you understand all the important topics from every chapter. You don’t need to learn by heart anything, just to understand. Obviously, you will get a lot of doubts, there will be a lot of things that will come to your mind, but don’t worry right now! Just focus in the main ideas.

Every time that you finish one chapter, practice with the mock questions. Don’t use any notes or something, just try to solve it thinking by yourself with the ideas that you got from reading that chapter. Don’t worry if you fail a lot, it is normal. The important thing here is that you should understand the solutions, so go back to that part in the notes and don’t stop until you will understand it 100%.

But it should not be enough. The main problem I have seen from many people is that they don’t actually write code. So do it! Open your Java IDE and write a lot of code! Write these questions that you failed and check by yourself how it is working. Try writting the incorrect answers and check by yourself about the different exceptions, compilations errors, etc. and understand why it is happening.

Also think about different situations. For example: “What would happen if a class implements 2 different interfaces that have the same method signature?” or “what would happen if I try to pass a char instead of an int as reference in a method?”. Seriously, write a lot of code.

Second part:

Right now you should be familiar with the Java language and the main topics of the exam. Of course there will be things in which you are still not strong enough or you just skipped. So this is the time to read the book for second time. I am totally sure that you will consolidate your knowledge about the different topics.

At the time that you are reading it, have your Java IDE open and continue coding. Every situation that comes to your mind, just write it and check by yourself. Take notes about these things if it is necessary.

When you finish with all the chapters in the book, it is time to practice again the mock questions, but this time all of them in one attempt. It is the first and last time that you will repeat exam questions, as you should avoid learn answers by heart.

Third part:

At this point, I don’t know how confident you feel with the different topics of the certificate. Maybe you would need to read the book again or maybe not. I would recommend to do it. It is really fast and it is never going to be negative, so if you feel with time, do it. It should not take so many hours.

Now it is time to buy the Enthuware software. For around 11 euros/12 dollars I think, you will have access to 7 mock exams that are quite similar to the one that you will find in your exam. Also, the program is quite similar to the one that you will use, so you will get familiar with the interface.

Complete all the mock exams and NEVER repeat them. If you fail any of them or have so low score, go back to the theory and continue studying before take the next one. Once that you finish all of them you should be more than prepared to take the official exam.

Opcionally, in the study guide from Mala Gupta you will find another 90 mock questions if you want to practice more. If you have access to some technical library, you could get this book and check it as well.

Fourth part:

Exam time!

You should pass without any problem your exam. I got in the mock exams these scores: 75%, 70%, 83%, 79%, 77%, 70% and 80%. Finally in the exam I got 88% as I mentioned before, so you should not have problems if you were having good scores in the mock exams.

Good luck!
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Well done
 
Kaleem Anwar
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congratulations !!
 
Akshit dhar
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Congrats
 
Jose Lara
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Thanks everybody for the congrats!
 
Roel De Nijs
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Hi Jose,

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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Jose Lara wrote:The main problem I have seen from many people is that they don’t actually write code. So do it! Open your Java IDE and write a lot of code! Write these questions that you failed and check by yourself how it is working. Try writting the incorrect answers and check by yourself about the different exceptions, compilations errors, etc. and understand why it is happening.

I absolutely agree with you about the need to write lots and lots of code during your preparation. That's definitely a very strong requirement if you want to pass! Learning a programming language is like driving a car: you don't learn how to drive a car by just reading a book, you have to get your hands dirty. During your preparation you should definitely write a boatload of small code snippets. But I disagree about using a Java IDE I always recommend (certainly if you are a Java greenhorn) the favourite text editor, javac (to compile your code) and java (to run your code) to write code snippets (not an IDE). And the reason is very simple: on the exam you need to assess code snippets, spot compiler errors, select the correct output,... without an IDE. Here you'll find some different opinions (including mine) about using an IDE during the preparation.
Each code snippet in the study guide should be the starting point to do plenty of experiments (change access modifier, change return type, add throws clause, mark an instance method static or final, and so on). And before you compile (and run) the program, you try to predict what will happen after you made the changes. Then you compile the program (and if it successfully compiles, run it as well) and see if your expectations/thoughts were correct.

Jose Lara wrote:“what would happen if I try to pass a char instead of an int as reference in a method?”.

Be careful! A char and an int are both primitive data types, so you can pass them as a reference in a method (as you probably know because you just have passed the OCAJP7 certification exam ). Should be something like: "what would happen if I try to pass a char value to an int method parameter?"

Jose Lara wrote:Seriously, write a lot of code.

Jose Lara wrote:At the time that you are reading it, have your Java IDE open and continue coding. Every situation that comes to your mind, just write it and check by yourself. Take notes about these things if it is necessary.

Have another cow for putting so much emphasis on writing lots of code during the certification exam preparation! That's really so important if you want to pass the certification exam.

Kind regards,
Roel
 
Jose Lara
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Thanks again Roel!

My ex-manager was also from Belgium and he gave me some really nice beers from there. I definitely need to visit your country haha Anyway, I was living in Czech Republic, so it wasn't so bad as well ;)

I already added my information into the Wall of Fame.

I totally agree with you about using the text editor, but in my case it is a lot of years already using my dear NetBeans haha But of course, for a newcomer in programming/Java the best thing is avoid the IDEs at the beginning. In any case, even if the IDE is telling you what you need to correct in order to compile it, you can just try to run it and you will see what is actually happening.

About "what would happen if I try to pass a char instead of an int as reference in a method?" it was just an example about some thing that could come to your mind. Of course, there will not be any problem, but I feel useful "to play" with all these things. For example, let's say that we have 2 overloaded methods receiving a char and an int as arguments. Now you assign to a char a number value and try to call the overloaded method. These are for me the kind of things that people should try when coding.

Thanks for the cows! I don't know for what is that, but it looks nice to have already some animals in my virtual ranch haha

Best regards!
 
Roel De Nijs
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Jose Lara wrote:About "what would happen if I try to pass a char instead of an int as reference in a method?" it was just an example about some thing that could come to your mind. Of course, there will not be any problem, but I feel useful "to play" with all these things. For example, let's say that we have 2 overloaded methods receiving a char and an int as arguments. Now you assign to a char a number value and try to call the overloaded method. These are for me the kind of things that people should try when coding.

I know it was just an example of how you could (and should) "play" with little code snippets, but I was only referring to the wrong use of "reference" in that sentence

Jose Lara wrote:Thanks for the cows! I don't know for what is that, but it looks nice to have already some animals in my virtual ranch haha

Have a look at the Ranch Cows page. It contains everything you need to know about your virtual cattle

Kind regards,
Roel
 
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