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Passed SCJP1.4 with 100%

Rory French
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 03, 2003
Posts: 97
Hi All
As you can imagine, I'm very relieved and totally pleased with the result. I'd like to share my experience
Exam Preparation
1. The first thing I did was get a copy of the Sun Certified Programmer and Developer Study Guide by Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates. (and if you do the same, then I'd say you're already a few steps ahead of the rest). I went through each chapter very thoroughly, TWICE, taking the self-tests as I went along. When I had finished, I reread the book again, and then went through the "exam watch" tips and "two minute drills" again, just to be extra sure.
2. I signed onto Javaranch and began participating in the forum discussions - A tremendous learning experience.
3. A started to work through the various free mock exams. Some are great, some are difficult, and some are awful (i.e. not very well worded and constructed). All of them helped me to discover my strengths and weeknesses, and to take action accordingly. I found Dan Chisholm's mocks to be the most difficult, but also the most impressive because, although they are more difficult than the real exam, they make really you think and question, and the explanations provided in the answers are excellent.
4. I did a lot of coding. A LOT !!!. If I had any doubts or questions that could be cleared up by creating coded examples, then that's exactly what I did.
5. I made notes. If I came across anything which I felt was important and was something I could possibly forget, I wrote it down. I revised these notes several times during my preparation.
The Exam
1. I spent the day before the exam by revising the watchpoints and summaries in the Sierra/Bates Book, and then had a relaxing evening in front of the telly.
2. I had a bit of a lie in on the day of the exam and tried to stay as relaxed as possible. I didn't go anywhere near my desk, didn't touch my computer, didn't touch my study guide or my notes.
3. I arrived at the exam venue approximately 30 minutes before my exam was scheduled, and after a few formalities like signing the register, I was allowed to start a little early.
4. The computer presented me with a couple of surveys to complete before the exam commenced. With hindsight this was a good thing for me as it helped me settle in a little. Plus the time given to complete the surveys (about 15 mins in total) was independent of the exam time, so no need to stress about that.
5. I got stuck into the exam. I read the exam assumptions page attentively, even though the clock began to tick because I wanted to be sure of the assumptions that need to be made when taking the exam. I was still pretty stressed during the first 10 questions, but began to settle down after that.
6. I marked all questions that had long and possibly complicated code exhibits and decided to return to them at the end of the exam. I also marked the questions I felt unsure/uneasy about. Once I had made my first pass, I returned to the complicated looking questions and did them, and then revisited the rest of the marked questions. After I had done this I had approx. 15-20 minutes left. I then quickly went through all the questions again just to double check. time ran out as I was rechecking the last question.
7. During the exam I also drank a lot of water (I had to visit the toilet twice). I think it helped to clear my mind.
Exam Tips
1. Get a handle on the scope and level of difficulty of the exam. I think the best way to do this is to get your hands on a copy of the Sierra/Bates book. The material and the self-tests/mock exams in the book are spot on. Mock exams and topics on the Javaranch Exam forum are very educational, but often topics that come up are way beyond the scope of the exam. So by all means indulge in these discussions and mocks because they will benifit you, but try not to lose focus.
2. Practice, practice, practice. Learn by doing. Code, compile, run. Take mock exams. Take notes.
3. Participate in the exam forum. Don't only ask questions, but try to answer them too. You'll be amazed at how trying to think things through will enlighten you.
4. Drink water. Drink it when you study. And if you feel the benifits, drink it when you take the exam too.
5. Don't panic. Try to relax. I recommend skipping/marking the really intimidating looking exam questions and leaving them for the end. If you tackle them early they could stress you out, and/or you could end up spending too much time on them. I found that after the first 10 questions I began to calm down quite a bit.
6. Read the questions CAREFULLY. then read the answers CAREFULLY, picking the one(s) you think are correct as you are reading. Then read all the answers you didn't choose and ask yourself why they are incorrect.
7. When revisiting questions: If you decide to change an answer, make sure you have a really valid reason for changing it i.e. don't do it just because you are unsure or stressed. I never changed a single one of my answers, but I was tempted.
8. RELAX. Even the difficult questions appear more difficult than they really are.
Mock Exam Scores
I didn't buy any mocks. Those listed below are all freely available. The scores are "first take" scores
(I didn't count any questions that are not part of the 1.4 exam objectives)
Marcus Green Mock 1:100%
Marcus Green Mock 2: 90%
Marcus Green Mock 3: 92%
Dan Chisholms Exams(Average): 74%
Sierra/Bates self-tests(Average): 86%
Khalid Mughal's mock: 97%
Chris Grindstaff's mock: 89%
John Hunt's mock: 89%
Valentin's mock: 70%
JQPlus V4 trial: 88%

Thanks Kathy and Bert for a great book. I thought studying for this exam was going to be a tedious chore. But your book quickly changed that perception.
Thanks to all the forum participants and moderators. You all definitely enriched my learning experience, even if sometimes forum topics get a little cookoo (at this moment I'm thinking about a thread that discussed Pets and their Fur...).
Hope the info was useful (and not too boring....zzzzzz).
Best of luck to you all
(Your forever loyal brother of the cult of the flea-bitten moose head trophy thingy)
Vidya Ram
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Joined: Apr 22, 2003
Posts: 62
Excellent Rory ! Congrats !
Paul Anilprem
Enthuware Software Support
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Joined: Sep 23, 2000
Posts: 3635
Congratulations, Rory!!! Excellent score. Please do post your mock exam scores on http://jdiscuss.com also.

Enthuware - Best Mock Exams and Questions for Oracle Java Certifications
Quality Guaranteed - Pass or Full Refund!
Roger Chung-Wee
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 29, 2002
Posts: 1683
There is only one word: fantastic!

SCJP 1.4, SCWCD 1.3, SCBCD 1.3
Jessica Sant

Joined: Oct 17, 2001
Posts: 4313

very very very nicely done -- excellent tips too.
But in keeping with policy... and the fact that this is turning into a "congrats" post -- I'm moving this to the Sun Certification Results Forum -- please continue the well deserved congratulations there.
Anupam Sinha
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Joined: Apr 13, 2003
Posts: 1090
Well done. Great score!
Giselle Dazzi
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Joined: Apr 20, 2003
Posts: 168
Congratulations !
I have to keep repeting to myself that envy is one of the 7 deadly sins... ( kidding )

Giselle Dazzi<br />SCJP 1.4
Dan Chisholm
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 02, 2002
Posts: 1865
Congratulations on your perfect score Rory!

Dan Chisholm<br />SCJP 1.4<br /> <br /><a href="http://www.danchisholm.net/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Try my mock exam.</a>
samatha vanga

Joined: May 13, 2003
Posts: 8
hi rory!
how many days it will take to prepare for the SCJP 1.4,as my exam date is approaching,i feel tensed..
Paul Belanger

Joined: May 13, 2003
Posts: 5
Very good. May I ask your total study time from start to taking the exam?
Valentin Crettaz
Gold Digger

Joined: Aug 26, 2001
Posts: 7610
Nice shot Rory

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Vince Hon
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 11, 2003
Posts: 117
Congratulations !

Vince Hon<br /> <br />SCJP 1.4 | SCWCD | SCBCD <br /><a href="http://vincehon.homeip.net:8000/VJW" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://vincehon.homeip.net:8000/VJW</a>
Francis Siu
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 04, 2003
Posts: 867
Good job~~

Francis Siu
Rory French
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 03, 2003
Posts: 97
Thanks everyone for the kind words
Regarding my preparation time (Samatha and Paul) : I studied for this exam over a three month period for between 3 and 5 hours a day on weekdays. However, I do think I could have taken the exam sooner and still achieved a good score. I should add that I have been teaching myself Java as a hobby for over a year(but I was shocked at how much I did not know when I started to prepare for the exam), and I have several years programming experience (although not using OOP technologies).
Hope this helps
p.s. Samatha, take a few deep breaths and stop stressing
Bert Bates

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8898
Rory -
What can I say? We're speechless! (Well almost )...
Congratulations on a truly amazing performance. Thanks for using our book, we're glad that it helped!

Spot false dilemmas now, ask me how!
(If you're not on the edge, you're taking up too much room.)
Tong Chen
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 26, 2002
Posts: 1011
Congratuations to you! This is really amazing!

Ajith Kallambella

Joined: Mar 17, 2000
Posts: 5782
Hearty congratulations on your success and the perfect score. Thank you for sharing your tips

Open Group Certified Distinguished IT Architect. Open Group Certified Master IT Architect. Sun Certified Architect (SCEA).
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