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Passed exam, 70% this is how....(prep tips)

Robert Elbourn
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 15, 2007
Posts: 69
Hi there thanks for the help from this forum. I took my exam and finally passed it with 70% felt I could have done better as the exam wasn't too difficult but the questions are obviously designed to catch you out more than I was led to believe...

I have been doing java on off for over 7 years, but fairly light, so I knew the basics, and could work out the advanced stuff.

I bought the K&B book which is a good book. Although it does tend to explain principles from only one perspective. However paired with this forum it was a pretty effective partnership.

Before I took the mock exam I had read through the book thoroughly twice (on public transport) and answered all of the questions three times.

I hated the mock exam on the cd, failing it with 39% (they dont tell you how many answers are right in each question) even with an open book later I only got about 80% because in these exams there are things you just don't "see" until its explained to you. You virtually need to act first like compiler sometimes then like a jvm to get them right.

Note: my exam technique has never been good,and I am not very good with trick questions, the mock exams are tricky to beef you up for the real exam.

Also I did plenty of concept proving in eclipse 3.2, taking example questions and modifiying them to see how every combination and permutation of the concept works.

Having flopped on this exam I decided to buy the Whizzlabs exam suite thing.
This I thought was good with a good user interface and very good feedback area. I didn't involve myself too much with the learning stages but went through to the exams, there are 5 or 6 that come with it!

Anyway I systematically failed 5 more mock exams averaging around 50%.(note dont ever give up) I would then go through each exam finding out why:
1) I got it right (reenforcing the truth)
2) I got it wrong, seeing whether I didn't know, or got caught out with a trick.

Each of the exams (in my opinion) visits slightly different concepts in the subject areas so I didn't visibly improve much for a while as the stuff I learn't wasn't tested on in the next mock exam.
eg. exam 1 tested synchronized(this) concepts wheras
exam 2 tested synchronized on a new String object
and exam 3 tested synchronized on a common string object
each producing different results...

So after failing about 6 mock exams I did not give up!
(note dont ever give up)

My seventh exam which was the final whizlabs exam I managed to pass with about 68%, I was very happy! I think the final exam puts together all the priciples tested in the first four (I may be wrong though).

So I took the bonus masterExam and narrowly failed it, I didn't enjoy the format of it at all and the feedback is poor compared with the whizzlabs feedback.

Then I booked my exam.

Then I retook the exams I had failed on whizlabs and passed 4 more in the 10 days before my exam.

I looked at a couple of concepts the night before, and took the exam.

The exam seemed to give me more than 3 hours but I didn't need them all.
I took a bottle of water to the exam (this is important).

The first question included a thread method interrupt() which I thought wasn't on the syllabus so I was expecting the exam to be nothing like the syllabus.
Because of the problems with prometric being (in my opinion) a flakey producer of software (check their website) and the reports that the drag and drop questions reset once you have done them and review them, I decided that I wasn't really confident about reviewing many questions so I tried to get them right first time!!! My objective was to pass the exam rather than score mega highly so I wasn't going to sweat over a couple of questionable answers when I knew the rest were ok! I think the professional benefit of getting a mega high score is small as its nothing like real development life (in my experiance) anyway I digress....
Also the drag and drop questions only drop correctly when the dragged item is partially over the drop area, if exactly over it wont work !!!)

The first hour and a half of the exam was difficult, partially because of the user interface and partially because its a LONG exam, and if I quit right then I would have failed. But when you get over 36 and 43 of the 72 questions then its easier because you know you are getting to the end!!

Finished the exam, it printed out in an adjoining room (it didn't tell me right away that I had passed which was quite stressfull as I nearlly throttled the guy to get the results!! )

Anyway I was relieved I had passed but a little disappointed it wasn't higher because I actually knew all of the concepts and more that I wasn't tested on but thats the way it goes....

So thats my story:

key facts:

I was averaging 70-80% on retaken whizzlabs exams (where I didn't remember the answers or maybe 1 or 2 from the previous fail) and I was also getting through them in about 2 hours 30 mins.

I didn't spend time going back and doubting my previous answers unless if it was an obvious syntax error! I did the same with my whizzlabs mock exams.

I took a bottle of water into the exam (at least 500ml)and also had a loo break (sometimes its just good to let your brain reset)

I worked virtually everything (except the directory structure, javac stuff )
out in eclipse, I must have written 10 projects with about 15 classes in each project testing threading, inheritance, co-variant returns etc...)

Thats it! I hope this (long sorry) helps someone else to pass the exam!

You know when you are ready when you know you are ready!

feel free to ask questions! or pm me. but in short if you are ready if:
1) you fully understand the concepts
2) you are passing mock exams comfortably

Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Aug 16, 2005
Posts: 15092

Congratulations! And thanks for writing a long topic about how you prepared for SCJP.

I'm going to move this topic to the Sun Certification Results forum. Click the link at the top of this page to continue the topic there.
[ February 20, 2008: Message edited by: Jesper Young ]

Java Beginners FAQ - JavaRanch SCJP FAQ - The Java Tutorial - Java SE 8 API documentation
sandhi mridul
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 25, 2008
Posts: 71

Also,Thanks for sharing your strategy for preparation of Exam with us.

Milton Ochoa
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 23, 2007
Posts: 336

Robert Congratulations! And thank you for sharing you preparation, this story give me faith to take the test shortly.
Joe Harry
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 26, 2006
Posts: 10032


SCJP 1.4, SCWCD 1.4 - Hints for you, Certified Scrum Master
Did a rm -R / to find out that I lost my entire Linux installation!
Sharma Ritu
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 25, 2007
Posts: 261
Congratulations! We are glad to have contributed to your success! We look forward to contributing to your future certification exams.

Best wishes
Ritu Sharma
Whizlabs Software
Success, certified!
World's BEST Java Certification Preparation Solutions
With Unconditional 150% Test PASS Guarantee!
Robert Elbourn
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 15, 2007
Posts: 69
yeah that was quite good Whizzlabs! Fair to say it really helped get me though

one of the notable differences in your exams and the actual java one was the use of stupid method and class names like...

Foo(Bar bar) {

FooBar(Bar bar) {

Foo foo = new Bar();

and all that confusing talk!!

it might be worth doing similar things (or not...)
Cameron Wallace McKenzie
author and cow tipper
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Aug 26, 2006
Posts: 4968

Congratulations! And great tips!

-Cameron McKenzie
I agree. Here's the link:
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