Background: 20 year software developer but not in any object oriented language.
Feb to Mid-April (10 weeks): Studied "Head First Java" (2nd Edition) by Sierra & Bates. I did one chapter a week for the first 10 chapters to give me the basic fundamentals of how to program in java.
Mid-April to Early June (6 weeks): Studied "OCA Oracle Certified Associate JE SE 8 Programmer 1 Study Guide" by Boyarsky and Selikoff. I also studied one chapter a week.
For the OCA book, I would do the following:
- Study the chapter
- Strip out all the code within the chapter and test myself if it would compile or not and what the output would be
- Take the practice test
- Repeat 2-3x as necessary
As I was studying and learning, I also wrote practice programs on the side...including one which would actually give me a sample test as well. I had to google certain things like how to read a file and ask user input but I continued to practice typing in code and compiling. This was a great learning experience and put my studying into practice. It helped me absorb the concepts.
Early June to June 30th: Took the Enthuware practice exams. This is a MUST DO. This software preps you perfectly for the exam. The questions are similar, the layout is similar and the experience mimics the actual exam experience.
Foundations Test: 83%
Test 1: 73%
Test 2: 68%
Test 3: 68%
Up until Test 3, I was a bit disappointed with my scores. But after going over the questions and what I was doing wrong...something clicked. One day after taking Test 3, I took Test 4.
Test 4: 84%
At this point I asked myself, "why am I taking more practice tests when I can just take the real one and get it over with?". So immediately after I took Test 4, I booked the real exam for the very next day July 1.
Went to test center. They took a picture of me and checked my ID's. I had to lock my possessions in a locker. They provided me with a laminated sheet of paper with an erasable marker for rough work. They did not provide an eraser so I asked for wet napkins to wipe down the board. I then took the exam. I felt 100% comfortable taking it as the Enthuware practices tests prepared me.
I finished the exam, signed a paper and left the test center. By the time I left the building I received an email notification that my score was ready. I logged into my account and saw a 91.
If you don't have any object oriented experience, starting off with a more basic fundamental approach like "Head First Java" helped understanding concepts. Once you understand the concepts, you can dive into the OCA prep book as it's more about driving in specifics. You can easily get lost without the fundamentals. Because of this, I allocated myself 5 months of prep time to take the OCA. This worked for me as it allowed me to balance work, life and studying.
Do not be discouraged if you are not getting the grades you want on the Enthuware practice exams. Keep taking questions and keep going over the answers. Knowing how they ask questions and what they are trying to test you on is important so the more questions/practice tests you take, the better.
This also depends on what your objectives are. What is more important to you, passing the exam or getting the highest score you can? The answer to that will also dictate how much prep and effort you need to put into it. I will say this, I am studying for the OCP now and you need to be able to incorporate concepts learned on the OCA into the OCP so even if you don't test well, you still need to know what is happening.