This week's book giveaway is in the OO, Patterns, UML and Refactoring forum. We're giving away four copies of Refactoring for Software Design Smells: Managing Technical Debt and have Girish Suryanarayana, Ganesh Samarthyam & Tushar Sharma on-line! See this thread for details.
I passed the SCJP 5 exam today with a 76%. My low area was API contents with 50%. Regarding the testing center: I was allowed to exchange markers for scratch paper and pencils. I was not allowed to bring a water bottle into the testing area -- I could have taken a break to get a drink or use the rest room, but I didn't do that, and didn't have any time to spare anyway. I answered all but one of the questions the first time through, and had 3-4 minutes remaining when working on the last question. I didn't have time to go back and work out the one question I didn't answer. When I first went in to the testing area to begin, before I had started, I noticed the monitor flickering, and saw it was set to 640X480 at 60hz (ahhh, to be back in 1988, using a VGA monitor ) Anyway, I requested that the refresh rate be increased to 85, hoping to stave off fatigue (3 hours is a long test). The admin made that change, and also offered to increase the screen resolution. I was surprised to get that question, as I thought it would have been part of the fixed testing conditions. Anyway, I didn't ask for the resolution to be increased, but in hindsight perhaps I should have. Maybe there would have been less scrolling (in my case every little bit of time/concentration would have helped) -- but I don't know without actually seeing the test in the other resolution.
For test prep, I used the K & B book, focusing on the Exam watch, two-minute drill, and self test sections. I think the book's organization is its best point! You can do either in-depth study, or just check-up and review of the important points through each topic. The first time through the book I had a cumulative score of 62% on all the self tests, including a humbling 3 of 15 in chapter 6! I then reviewed all chapters a second time, checking all my previous wrong answers. On the LearnKey CD, I first took several quizzes getting a cumulative 58%. I then re-scheduled my certification exam to give myself 5 more days to study. After reviewing my wrong answers, I took the full LearnKey master exam and got a 78% (I had previously seen many of the questions). Tried to download the bonus exam, was unsuccessful Ran the eXamulator 60 question test, got an 88%. Also did a couple other practice tests. In hindsight, I wish I had done more small example programs. I was hoping for 80% or better ... almost made it.