Congratulate me - I passed the SCJP 1.4 (73%) in under 3 weeks!
Of course, I've been working as a Java programmer for 7 years, so that helped. I had originally been working toward the 1.5 exam since January, but making no real progress. My employer of 8 years set me a hard deadline of getting a cert by mid-year if I wanted to keep my job, and panic set in. So I looked back at the 1.4 in mid-May, and tried a few sample mocks. Instantly I was within a few percentage points of passing!
Comparison: the 1.5 contains a number of objectives I have no working experience with (Generics, the expanded Collections classes). The 1.4 is closer to what my workplace does now and for the near future, so it's a good match for me.
Obstacle: I'm very right-brained (also very left-brained, but more right-brained) in my approach to problems in general, a little bit ADD, and as such not very detail oriented. These exams are VERY detail oriented, so I had to come up with a study plan that took that into account.
The problem is that many of the books available are written by and for left-brainers, and I can't read them for long without going to sleep. My right-brain wants go straight to the WHAT (the specific) and move backward through the WHY (the general) until it loses interest, and few texts are built like that.
Even the Head First books assume a general-to-specific beginner's approach, and force one to slog through a LOT of (well-written and structured, I must add) fluff to get to the gold nuggets I needed.
Anybody else have this problem?
Anyway, I used the K&B book, found an approach that kept me focused, got through the exam, and passed it! I would have liked a higher score, but it's like the driver's test: no one gives you a prize for getting 100 percent, they only care that you passed it.
So now maybe they'll let me keep my job.