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.
So I passed it with a score of 80% today. Although I'd love to be one of the hotshots with 90+ score, I am quite happy as my goal was really anywhere above 70%. As is customary in these stables I will give my assessment to help other cowboys and cowgirls who tread the valleys of the SCJP:
My background: I was a java programmer for two years WAY back in 2000-2001, so while I have had some experience, half of the tools, concepts, API's, etc., were all new to me (this should be encouraging for newbies!) I don't remember using anything but arrays, vectors, and hashtables, always sucked with threads, etc. I do like 'nix type environments so maybe the regex and printf type stuff was a bit easier for me, but other than that consider that I was pretty newbie.
Time: I studied for about 2 1/2 month appx 5-8 hours a day! No lie.
- First two months: Read K&B and used Sanghera's book as a sort of supplement (especially for concepts that I needed verification or more explanation) I have to say that I was surprised after taking the test today at just how focused and accurate k&b really is regarding what's going to be on the exam and where you should focus your learning! I was struglling on the k&b chapter end tests so those of you that are questioning themselves please use these question as a tool to refine what you've learned but by no means a gauge of how well you can do! Stay positive and keep trying to improve and just try to go back and figure out what you missed the first reading through.
NOTE: (After about 6 weeks I had read the books and started playing around with free mocks and re-reading topics I needed more attention to) I should have just got some simulation software at this point as I feel that taking all sorts of mocks was a bit confusing and software is way more helpful with things like keeping track of weak areas, giving you practice to take an electronic test, etc. This may have been a period where I truly lost some time...don't make my mistake and wait until two weeks before the test to get the tools you need to pass this thing!
- Last couple of weeks: Bit the bullet and purchased Enthuware's product. From my research I might have also chosen Whizlabs (didn't review epractice and others). I chose Enthuware for price and the fact that it had very similar gui to real test though I can't say about whizlabs. I took all but test 11 (10 mocks) and was consistently scoring avg 75% by the last 5 or so as I used the first few as more of a learning aid and self corrected as I went. It was quite uncanny how little I flucuated from test to test always getting very very close to %75. I would assert that this proves that though I was improving, Enthuware's product had more unique questions to stump me with. It was definitely worth the $28. Yes there are some minor annoyances, but this software rocked for the bang for the buck. I've heard Paul who I think works for them say that you should do about 5-10% better on the real exam than you do with the mocks given you don't have a huge test taking issue and, well, I was getting 75% and scored 80% so it worked out that way for me.
Gotchyas: - Please ask the attentdant to give you two markers before you even get in there. I had heard that the markers were clumsy, so for the first half of the test I was using this dried up marker and finally it completely ran out of ink! I had to run back into the front desk and ask for a new marker which ended up working much better...I realized I should have went for a new marker earlier in the test. So please do your self a favor and test out the marker first and see if you can get a second marker just in case JMTC
- I also was so happy to finish question 72 I accidentally clicked through passed the screen with the results chooses print results before realizing that I had inadvertantly passed my results screen. No big deal as I was able to go up front and get the printed results but it would have been nice to have seen results.
- D&D although you should figure this out easily, note that you have to drag to slightly below and to the right (not above the destination target)
- Time alloted: There have been rumors of the 2:55 being extended; then some say that the extra time is for the intro; I strongly advise that one of the moderators who has relations with Sun look into this as I swear I had well over three hours AFTER answering the questions in the intro. I was so nervous I sort of ignored the clock and tried to focus, but there's definitely something weird with that and Bert or someone should probably check into it and get back to the group as this is confusing.
What I could have done to do better: As is with the mocks, there are mistakes you make because you just don't know the specifics of the question being asked (say you've forgot some minor nuance/syntax in the API, or you just haven't read or seen what the question is asking about) On the mocks, I found that about half of the time I probably just didn't know the pertinent data, and the other half I somehow just screwed up or missed something obvious. I have no way of telling on the real exam as I didn't see exactly what I got wrong but I suspect it was somewhere about the same. Having missed 14 probably about half were from something stupid and the other half I was truly stumped.
If I had maybe 2 more weeks I feel I could have broken the 90+ mark as stuff just started to really come together in the very last week before the test. If score is important to you, go ahead and reschedule for another two weeks or so out, and you WILL see an improvement. I would strongly suggest just getting software mock before you even need it and don't penny pinch. If you're really really good at java, and you just want to pass the thing without spending any money extra you may have success. However, I'm sure I would have been at least 10% lower without simulation help. I've seen that poeple who had very high scores sometimes had access to both enthware and whizlabs while also taking other well known free mocks. They must have studied very hard and are good test takers. I would assert that similar questions missed in practice more than once really start to stick as you start feeling stupid for making the same mistake twice. Obviously, the more questions you've taken the better. I definitely didn't give myself the time or resources to do everything possible: I didn't take the free 10+ question the bates offers, the rasmussen mock, any online mocks, and solely used enthuware.
So I'm going on vacation with my girlfriend to Nevada City for the weekend through Tuesday so I probably won't reply to responses. Hopefully my jabber jawing is of some help to next weeks batch of test takers LOL Good luck and thanks to all who helped out in this wonderful little community!
Very, very nice, Nico! No need to compare your score to the "hotshots"--from reading all your posts here, I think you may have a better handle on Java concepts than even some of the 90+% scorers who merely crammed for the exam. Congratulations, and enjoy your vacation!
Congratulations, Nico! Glad to know that our product was helpful Please do let us know about other annoyances as well (I know the one that you mentioned earlier and we are working on it) so that we can make it better.
SCJP 5.0, SCJD URLyBird 1.3.3, OCMJEA 5 (SCEA) Factory Homes
Joined: Oct 09, 2007
Paul, not sure if you'll get this now that it's been moved (you don't seem to have a private message option), but please look on the 'discuss this' forum for your products for my posts as I think I had a couple of more bugs that I found there. Moreover, you should probably have someone do a 'once through' for typos in the questions. I remember seeing mainx and System .out (space) and a couple of others like that. As for the strange wording in a few of them, I think I had some strange wording on the real test so that probably just toughened me up so to speak. Oh, and lastly, when I'm reviewing the test (after all done) and I'm looking at your explanations for the question I got wrong, I would many times switch to a shell and run a dummy java program to try to grasp the concept. Many times, if I took too long (well, whatever that means), I would come back and the test review was closed. Invariably, I couldn't remember the question # I was looking at so I'd have to approximate and then scroll through until I found it. I'd call that a minor bug. BTW, I was doing this on a Toshiba Satellite laptop running Kubuntu Gutsy with Linux kernel 2.6+. Speaking of that, overall your product worked great on Linux as I'm sure most folks are using windows. I made an alias in my shell to the jar so i could just type 'ets' and fire it up...never had a problem. Thanks again! Your product is nicely priced and quite effective for learning the wrinkles of java.