Thank you all very much. Before I forget here's what I did to pass the exam:
PHASE 1: Learning
1. "Sun Certified Programmer & Developer for Java 2", Kathy Sierra & Bert Bates
2. Revision of 1
3. Ebooks (JavaCaps, Cramsession) see JavaRanch's lists for such exam crams
4. Sun Learning Center Tutorials, Sun Java Basic Tutorials 1&2(can download from Sun, not all are relevant just a quick pass)
5. Revision Notes(plenty on the Internet see JavaRanch's lists) & my notes(only about 12 pages)
6. Additional reading for weak areas(I borrowed from a friend the Java 2 Programmer Exam Cram 2, Bill Brodgen, Marcus Green)which is an excellent book for revising and enforcing knowledge already gained.
PHASE 2: Exam Training
1. Mock Exams from "Sun Certified Programmer & Developer for Java 2
2. Free Online Mock Exams(Dan's exams is a MUST, see JavaRanch's list for latest suggestions)
3. e-practice Mock Exam from Sun Learning Centre
4. Commercial Mock Exams (I did JQPlus but Whizlabs is also highly recommended from many people in JavaRanch)
PHASE 3: Revision
1. Flashcards( very useful to have flashcards can create them during Learning, Exam Training or both)
2. Any exams from PHASE 2
3. Revision Notes
4. "Sun Certified Programmer & Developer for Java 2", TWO-MiNUTE DRILLS & SELF TESTS
5. Any step from PHASE 1(if necessary)
I know the above looks like a crazy algorithm but it worked for me!!
---TIPS ON PREPARING---
- Calculate the time you need and try to stick to your plan, don't just go on without a timeplan it might take forever
- Don't be too hard on yourselves, if you missed hours or days from your plan that's cool, you are not a factory or a robot that's supposed to work up to the last minute. But BE persistent, do not give up when there's something you don't understand. Tenacity pays well here. Also there are always the people of JavaRanch who can help you or just give you a hand
when you fall(plus all the very useful posts, your problem could be already explained there)
- Always be there when you study, not in some tropical beach in Hawaii or Jamaica!! My mind used to wander around the Santorini landscapes but I tried always to concentrate and catch myself if thinking of something else while studying!
- If you want to cut down the cost of the whole certification, try to enroll to the Sun Academic Initiative. In some cases you are eligible to subscribe to this programme just by being a library member etc. The exam voucher also costs about $55 if you are a member.
Here's the address: Sun Academic Initiative
---TIPS FOR TAKING THE EXAM---
- I found the 4 pass approach suggested by Kathy Sierra's & Bert Bates's book tremendously helpful and efficient. That is: Pass 1: Cherry pick easy questions first, Pass 2: Complete all questions, Pass 3: Review Marked, Pass 4: Review all, quality check. That's the perfect battle plan!!!
- The night before the exam try not to drink alcohol. It just messes up your mind. Also try not to watch TV, chances are that by watching TV your short term memory will not be at it's best shape for the forthcoming challenge.
- Try to relax before the exam, e.g. listen to a CD you like or whatever works for you and try to focus during the exam.
That's all folks!!