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From zero knowledge to Certification in one month...

Dan Lastoria
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 30, 2002
Posts: 57
Well I passed SCJP2 this morning. After just one month of preparation. Here's my story...
I have a very average programming background. I've actually been a project manager for about five years with zero technical work. Prior to that I was doing some light Visual Basic (4.0/non-OO) work. I also did some undergrad work (almost 10 years ago) with C++ and several procedural programming languages.
About a month ago (the week after New Year's), I picked up my first set of Java books. A friend and I decided we wanted to get into some Java work, and that certification would be a great starting point. I picked up core Java Fundamentals (Sun Press) and we each picked up a certification "cram" book. I picked up "Mike Meyer's Passport to Java Cert" and he picked up the Corolios "Exam Cram" book.
We went through all of the chapter tests at the end of each chapter in both cram books. First pass we were scoring (by working together) around 40-60%. We would focus in on the more difficult concepts, try some coding, do some reading, quiz each other, etc. Then we took a second pass at it and scored around 70-80%. Then we took the mock test in the back of Exam Cram book and I scored a 68% on it. That was about 1 1/2 weeks ago.
We took some of the Sybex tests (my friend bought the CD) and I scored horribly. (40-50%) Mostly due to the fact that those tests are junk. Don't bother buying it.
Then we hit started reading some posts. From your tips we picked up JQ+ and started playing Rules Roundup. I first took the Marcus tests and scored a 75%(Test#1) and 71%(Test#2) My scores on JQ+ were as follows:
1. Didn't take Test#1
2. 61%
3. 63%
4. 68%
5. 78%
6. 90%
7. 76%
8. 78%
9. & 10. Didn't take Test#9 and Test#10
We really spent a lot of time reviewing each question and going over the "tricks" and difficult materials.
I decided (based on fellow Ranchers advice) that I was ready for the test. Last Thursday I bought my voucher and scheduled the test for this morning. I spent several hours over the weekend reviewing material and relaxing. Got a good night's sleep last night and arrived at the Prometric center this morning.
I finished the test in about one hour (they give you 120 minutes). I could have spent more time reviewing but I was tired and I felt pretty confident that I passed. [We didn't really care about getting a high score...we just wanted to pass] So I hit the submit button.
I couldn't see my total percentage right away, but knew that I did fairly well from my section scores:

After printing my results and visiting the front desk, I found that my total score was 91%. I was very pleased given my amount of preparation.
The one piece of advice that I can't stress enough is this:
I think if you do that...and you can score decently (65%+) on the JQ+ exams...then you are definitely ready for the real thing.
Good luck!
Dan Lastoria
Sun Certified Java Programmer (hey, I like the sound of that)
[Not sure if this should have gone in the results forum or the main one...sorry if it's misplaced]
[ February 11, 2002: Message edited by: Dan Lastoria ]
Valentin Crettaz
Gold Digger

Joined: Aug 26, 2001
Posts: 7610
Excellent job Dan
I'm moving this to the result forum.

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Dan Lastoria
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 30, 2002
Posts: 57
Sorry for posting in the wrong forum...
And just friend scored equally as well. So I think this is a good path towards certification.
Valentin Crettaz
Gold Digger

Joined: Aug 26, 2001
Posts: 7610
And just friend scored equally as well. So I think this is a good path towards certification.

Was this for my benefit
Dan Lastoria
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 30, 2002
Posts: 57
I received a PM from someone about my original post here, and would like to clarify something.
I didn't take Tests#1, #9, and #10 only because I didn't have time. There is nothing wrong with those tests, and I by all means recommend that you take them if you have the time.
Rob Ross

Joined: Jan 07, 2002
Posts: 2205
Good job Dan!

SCJP 1.4
Chuck Southard

Joined: Feb 06, 2002
Posts: 2
Congrats Dan! Oh wait, I'm the friend who studied with you and I already did that. I will at least second his opinion about the JQ+ exams. They were an excellant gauge for telling us we were ready, and they pretty accurately reflected the "flavor" of the actual test.
My background is as a technical lead/designer/programmer having used Powerbuilder for the last five years (and toying with various structured languages before that).
Just so anyone doesn't get too cocky and think they'll automatically do 10-20% better than their JQ+ scores (like Dan), mine were more closely matched. My last four tests were in the 80's and I got an 86% on the actual certification exam. I finished the test with 25 minutes to spare (at which point I pressed "done", I had no desire to go over my answers and I don't want to see another test question for awhile ).
I at least started a little differently than Dan. Becoming interested in Java, I first went through the Que book "Java from Scratch" and built their application (starting in the first week of December). It was after that that Dan suggested certification to me and we hit the exam books heavily (very heavily mind you, we maybe did that portion in a month...but we put a LOT of time into it. Work was unusally slow in January and we did a lot of whiteboarding).
I tried to base most of my study by understanding the concepts involved and was hoping to be able to derive most of the answers I needed (Dan was on board with this as well). I guess I only mention this because a number of folks have brought it to my attention that these certificates were pure memorization and I've found it didn't have to be that way (ok, there is some, but concepts can take you a long way). I do not have the API memorized (not that that wouldn't help if you were very concerned about your final score).
I'll sum this up by saying I felt the whole thing was a rewarding experience. I love the fact that I have such a sound base knowledge in the language proper. I know others have written that the test should come later after more experience has been gained, but my feelings are that I can now freely focus on all the design aspects of the language.
Good luck to all those currently studying!
Ghulam Rashid
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 14, 2002
Posts: 278
Congratulations Dan, thats interesting story how cleared the test. BTW, congrates.
I agree. Here's the link:
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