First of all, a warm welcome to CodeRanch!
Jeremy Rottman wrote:I just recently took and failed (61%) the OCA 7.
Sorry to hear you have failed the exam!
Jeremy Rottman wrote:One area that I would like to really focus on is getting some practical experience coding problems that I would see on the test. The areas that I failed most on were loop constructs and exception handling. Can anyone recommend any coding exercises that I could do to help reinforce the material I am going over?
Every mock question, code snippet, code exercise,... you encounter is an excellent starting point for a experimenting and twiddling (change access modifiers, make it final, make it static,...). The more you'll practice (experiment), the easier it will get to analyze code and spot (compiler) errors and/or runtime exceptions. So the first step is of course trying to understand the explanation, but that's definitely not the only thing you should do with these exercises. Each code snippet offers a gazillion possibilities which just a few small adjustments (as illustrated in this topic).
I'm a strong believer of using your favourite text editor and javac/java to write, compile and run these little code snippets. Don't use an IDE, certainly not if you are a Java beginner! The IDE will spot compiler errors for you, but on the actual exam you don't have a compiler to point you at the errors, you have to do this all by yourself! And that's the crucial part of the experimenting and twiddling with the code snippets: you make a small change to the code and you have to explain yourself what the result of this change will be (compiler error, runtime exception, same/other output). Then you compile (and run) the program and see if you were correct or not . This is something I try to encourage here in these forums as well: you'll find plenty of threads where someone asks a question or has some doubts, I (try to) answer the question or clear the doubts and then I add the same code snippet (as in the original post) but with 1 (or 2) small adjustment(s).
In the OcajpFaq (besides other very useful information) and this thread you'll find an overview of all available (free and commercial) resources (study guides, mock exams, video courses,...) to thorougly prepare yourself for the 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 use the search function, you'll find plenty of topics with advice to prepare (and ace) the OCA exam. Here are a few:
Hope it helps!