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test-taking advice from a recent scjp

Elizabeth Lester
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 14, 2001
Posts: 129
Hi all,
I passed the exam yesterday on my second attempt and I wanted to share my experience with the test facilities. I have seen lots of posts on what and how to study, all of which helped me greatly, but not too many tips on the logistics of taking the test.
Here's my advice: Find out what you can about the testing center before you decide which one to use. Don't choose it just for proximity to your house. If any of you are like me, you will be affected at least somewhat by a positive or negative experience dealing with the people at the test center, and by the quality of the hardware you will be using. (I am pretty spoiled here at work with a flat-screen, etc.)
In my case, the first place I went to had really old computers with screens that were very hard to read. Now, I'm not saying that that caused me to fail the test, but who knows--it set me off balance, and that's the last thing you want when you are trying to stay cool through a 2 hour exam. Right?
They also provided as the "one sheet of paper" we are allowed, a plastic write-on/wipe-off board and a large-tipped black magic marker. I also found this disconcerting, as those sheets are never truly clean, the marker was quite a bit thicker than a pencil, and over the course of the test I slowly but surely became covered with black magic marker.
Then, when it came time for the truth or consequences, and I went to retrieve my results, the guy took a long, hard, look at them, slowly walked over to me (I did not know what my score was at this point and was on the verge of running over to him to tear the sheet out of his hand) and said "It happens".
After that not-so-wonderful experience, and generally feeling like a goob for missing it by one question, I posted the JUGs in my area and asked for test center recommendations. I got a few, as well as a few to stay away from.
The place I chose for round two was a truly pleasant experience (well, if test-taking can ever be a pleasant experience). I was provided with a sheet of real paper, a pencil, and wished good luck. I could easily read the screen, and felt much more comfortable.
Then when I went to retrieve my results, the woman handed them to me in a very business-like manner, without even a peek at what they said, and thanked me for coming.
Of course, my increased comfort at round two might have been a *little* bit due to the increase in studying (I raised my score 30%), but just the same it's nice to not have to worry about the things about the test that are outside of your control.
Just study your rear off and go.
Anyone else have thoughts about these aspects of the testing environment and possible needs for some standardization for the sake of the test-takers?
Just my 50 cents.
If anyone has any related questions or other questions about the nature of the exam (not what they actual questions were, of course), I would be happy to reply. I received an answer to every question I posted to this forum during my study, and I am very grateful to all of you!

------------------
Elizabeth Lester
Sun Certified Programmer for the Java� 2 Platform
Jane Griscti
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 30, 2000
Posts: 3141
Congratulations Elizabeth
The exam center I used was fine but I have seen the odd horror story about poor testing conditions. The idea of 'shopping around' for a test center might not occur to people. Good advice!
I'm going to move this over to the Certification Results forum.
------------------
Jane Griscti
Sun Certified Programmer for the Java� 2 Platform


Jane Griscti
SCJP, Co-author Mike Meyers' Java 2 Certification Passport
Valentin Crettaz
Gold Digger
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2001
Posts: 7610
Congratulations Elizabeth,
yep I think people having those experience should inform some responsible people at Sun or Prometric to signal what's going on. Such conditions are clearly not acceptable and should not become a factor of success...
it's good you point this out...

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Valentin Crettaz
Sun Certified Programmer for Java 2 Platform


SCJP 5, SCJD, SCBCD, SCWCD, SCDJWS, IBM XML
[Blog] [Blogroll] [My Reviews] My Linked In
Dave Vick
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 10, 2001
Posts: 3244
Elizabeth
Way to hang in there and get it!!! congrats on passing!!
I remember someone just recently saying they took the test on a windows 3.1 machine - I guess there are some pretty scary ones out there

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Dave
Sun Certified Programmer for the Java� 2 Platform


Dave
Elizabeth Lester
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 14, 2001
Posts: 129
Thanks Jane, Val, and Dave for your responses. I was wondering whether that might sound a little like crying over spilt milk...
I think I will contact Prometic and/or Sun about my experience.
I read that post about the Windows 3.1 machine too--I would have gone insane not being able to see the code and at least some of the answers at the same time!
--liz
[This message has been edited by Elizabeth Lester (edited October 02, 2001).]
Ashik Uzzaman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 05, 2001
Posts: 2370

Congrats Elizabeth! It's really awful to get in a condition not favorable during such a serious exam....
------------------
Muhammad Ashikuzzaman (Fahim)
Sun Certified Programmer for the Java� 2 Platform
--When you learn something, learn it by heart!


Ashik Uzzaman
Senior Member of Technical Staff, Salesforce.com, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Manish Hatwalne
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 22, 2001
Posts: 2578


Anyone else have thoughts about these aspects of the testing environment and possible needs for some standardization for the sake of the test-takers?

Congrats!!!
Regarding your concerns, they *are* vey much valid. I also read abt. this windows 3.1 and horrible 10" monitor (I think). That's insane. I believe standards MUST exist, in fact they might be there already, but some deafulters might be there.
It's a good idea to report this to Sun, especially there has to be standardization abt. size of the monitor, min requirements for OS etc. Imagine your final exam paper printed in a font that you can't read!!!
Nah, its not happening, let Sun know abt. it, exspecially the person who had 10" monitor for the test has every right to complain.
Thanks again for posting this.
Regards,
- Manish

[This message has been edited by Manish Hatwalne (edited October 02, 2001).]
Elizabeth Lester
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 14, 2001
Posts: 129
Hi Ashik and Manish,
Thanks for your encouragement. I will try inquiring about testing standards that might be imposed by Sun and/or Prometric, and I'll let everyone know what I find out (especially Carlisia!).
--liz
------------------
Elizabeth Lester
Sun Certified Programmer for the Java� 2 Platform
Muhammad Farooq
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 08, 2001
Posts: 356
Congrats Liz, Can anyone have appear for the exam in or around Pleasanton CA, as I am planning to write the exam at the end of this month. Any help is really appreciated.
--Farooq


Muhammad Farooq<br />Sun Certified Programmer for Java 2 Platform<br />Oracle8i Certified Professional Database Administrator
Elizabeth Lester
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 14, 2001
Posts: 129
Originally posted by Muhammad Farooq:
Congrats Liz, Can anyone have appear for the exam in or around Pleasanton CA, as I am planning to write the exam at the end of this month.

Hi Farooq,
If you can, I would post that question to a JUG or two in your area as well. I got a better response from the JUGs in my state when I was looking for a place to test.
There are lots of folks on here, but it seems we are quite spread around geographically.
Best of luck on your exam!
--liz
Elizabeth Lester
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 14, 2001
Posts: 129
Hello again,
I emailed Prometric with my concerns, and they emailed me back right away with a response asking me to please inform them of testing irregularities, the test center name and address, and they will send someone out to determine what they can do to either improve the testing environment or discontinue testing.
They also offered me a free voucher for my next exam with them...too bad I didn't contact them last week! I guess I'll have to think fast about what to tell them I will be taking next!
If anyone else has a question about their testing center experience, let them know!
--liz
p.s. Carlisia, that means you!
Manish Hatwalne
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 22, 2001
Posts: 2578

Great!!!
Nice to know that they are concerned and willing to improve it.
Regarding the free voucher, can you not get it for some other exam. (scjd or someting)?
Cheers,
- Manish
Michael Bruesch
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 23, 2001
Posts: 158
Hey Elizabeth, what was the e-mail addy for Prometric that you sent your concerns to? In case I fail the first time taking it (which should be soon) I can maybe get a free second attempt!


Michael J Bruesch<br /><i>I code, therefore I am.</i>
Elizabeth Lester
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 14, 2001
Posts: 129
I knew there was a reason I chose not to post that address here!
Michael, the address you should use is yeahright@wishfulthinking.com
Anyone really needing to contact Prometric regarding a problem can email me directly for the email address.
Hopefully not too many of you will need it!
--liz
leena rane
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 13, 2001
Posts: 280
Hi Elizabeth,
Congratulations,
All the Best for your future
Padmaja Balaji
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 13, 2001
Posts: 122
Congrats Elizabeth
Padmaja
 
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