I've been working near Java for over a decade. Occasionally picking through code to work out what it's doing or submitting small bug-fix patches. I decided to formalise my knowledge and gain certification.
I started with Head First Java. Then I read the Sybex book (Boyarsky / Selikoff) twice. The first pass took approx 10 days per chapter. The second read was much quicker, approx 1 day per chapter.
In between the 1st/2nd read of the Sybex book, I watched Simon Roberts video course. I very much enjoyed this after the hard slog of the two textbooks. I used it as a more passive revision of the course material. The way Simon explained the predicate / lambda topic was particularly good.
At this point I was scoring avg 70% on the (Sybex) end of chapter exercises.
I moved on to the Enthuware mock tests. I had the wind taken out of my sails with a 44% on test 1. I didn't take the full 2.5 hours and I didn't review my questions. Also I found the process of concentrating for 2.5hours exhausting, especially after a day at work. Hopefully this is a skill I can develop over the next few weeks.
Since taking the test, I've reviewed all the questions, including the questions I answered correctly. Last night, I took the first Sybex mock exam (you get access when you buy the book). I think my concentration / focus had improved. I took just over 1 hour to complete 60 questions. I'd bookmarked a few for review and double clicked a 'next question' button twice, missing two questions as a result - there was no 'previous question' button. I'd assumed at the end I'd have to option to review at least the bookmarked q's if not all of them, but the only option to escape the answered final question screen submitted my test. 51% this time, but with missed q's and q's pending review. Not a great improvement, but heading in the right direction.
Is this how it will be in the real exam, or will I be able to skip back/forward through the questions? How will I jump to questions bookmarked for review, and can this be done at any point during the test?
The plan for the rest of my preparation is to complete the Sybex mocks, then the Enthuware mocks. I'm hoping that, once all these mocks are complete, I'll be better able to focus for the 2.5h hours. The test/review process is very informative, so I'm expecting to see my test scores gradually improve too.
This is not as easy as I thought it would be!
First of all, a warm welcome to CodeRanch!
E Hammond wrote:This is not as easy as I thought it would be!
Based on your story it seems you are not a full-time Java developer, but you work in a Java environment and occasionally you go through some code and submit small bug-fix patches. Even experienced Java devlopers struggle sometimes to pass this certification exam. The exam itself is really hard and difficult. Even if you know how to write a Java application, you still might fail the exam. You need a very good and solid understanding of all basic Java and OO concepts to be able to pass the exam.
E Hammond wrote:I moved on to the Enthuware mock tests. I had the wind taken out of my sails with a 44% on test 1.
Regarding the (Enthuware) mock exams, I always provide the same advice. These exams offer excellent value for money! I would use them solely to monitor your progress and get an objective indication of your readiness to take the actual exam. So you should only take the first test after you have studied and you think you are ready for the exam. You should of course take the test as it were the actual exam, so with the time limit and don't use anything else but paper and a pencil. You have already taken the first test but didn't share your score. And the score is quite important. If you consistently score 80+ on the different mock exams, you'll probably pass the actual exam with flying colours. So you have a good solid knowledge about the exam topics and can go through the incorrect (and correct) questions, read and learn from the explanations. Then you can repeat the material with some extra focus on your weaker topics for a few days and take the next exam.
But if you score less than 80+ on the exam, you need to do some additional studying for a few weeks, because you still lack the required knowledge to pass the exam. And taking more mock exams will generally not provide you this knowledge. So you might want to study a course, read another study guide, write lots of code snippets, and so on before you take anpther mock exam. If you want some mock questions to practice your knowledge a bit, use the questions from the study guides (most of them have practice questions with every chapter and offer one or more mock exams as well) and/or the questions from the mock exams you have already taken. But don't use another mock exam, otherwise you have wasted this mock exam and can't use it anymore to monitor your progress and have an indication of your current readiness for the actual exam (because only first attempt scores will count).
E Hammond wrote:Is this how it will be in the real exam, or will I be able to skip back/forward through the questions? How will I jump to questions bookmarked for review, and can this be done at any point during the test?
In this post you'll find a nice explanation about the oracle certification exam user interface (which buttons are available, when can you review questions,...)
E Hammond wrote:The plan for the rest of my preparation is to complete the Sybex mocks, then the Enthuware mocks. I'm hoping that, once all these mocks are complete, I'll be better able to focus for the 2.5h hours. The test/review process is very informative, so I'm expecting to see my test scores gradually improve too.
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, preferably using your favourite text editor, javac (to compile your code) and java (to run your code). On the exam you need to assess code snippets, spot compiler errors, select the correct output,... (without an IDE). 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.
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!