I passed SCEA level 1. Score was 77%.
Let me take the opportunity to thank this forum for the valueable inputs and direction. I put in roughly 100 hours of effort in the preparation i.e. two weeks of rigorous study putting in roughly 8 hours every day. I have been involved in creating achitectures for past 5 years and that helped. Total java experience is 10 years.
Study material used and tips: a) Mastering EJB 3: This is a very good book for general concepts also. Read it once from start till end. I am sure the concepts learnt here will help me in the years to come. b)Sun Press' SCEA book: I think this is the best possible option for security concepts. I found that no other topic was valuable in this book. And I did not need any other book for security except for concepts on firewalls. c)GOF 4 patterns: Must grasp the concept of each design pattern. Anyways that will be of great help in the career. d)Core J2EE patterns: Few important and relevant patterns must be understood. No need to go in too much depth. e)JSF: Read JSF from few books. I spent too much time on JSF as this was my weakest point. I never had prior exposure to JSF. After the exam, I realized that this effort was a waste. The questions are either very general whch can be answered by simply understanding the overview of technology or cannot be answered even after reading the JSF books. f)Webservices and soap: Read few books on webservices and SOAP. Undoubtedly this is the most important topic in this exam. g)Common architectures and NFRs from few sites here and there.
My advice: - No questions on code. For my preparation I skipped any portions having code in it. - Web services, design patterns, common architectures,ejb 3,security,JSF are the most important topics in the listed order. If I had to give the exam again and were targetting to comfortably pass the exam, I would have skipped any other topics. - If you don't know JSF then concetrate only on the concepts. 4-5 hours of effort would be good enough. Look at developerbooks.com interview questions on JSF. - I felt that the time was never an issue. I consider myself a slow reader but I finished the exam in 80 minutes. You may like to read the question twice but so many times,in the second reading, you can skip the story in the question and just look at the geist of the qtn. - Take earplugs with you for the exam. The keyboard noise of other examinees is really disturbing. - Understand webservices concepts including soap,wsdl,ws-security etc. - The exam is at times confusing where all the answers look correct. - If your concepts of the above listed technologies are good then you don't have to worry.
All the best to those planning to take the exam !!