This week's book giveaway is in the OCAJP 8 forum. We're giving away four copies of OCA Java SE 8 Programmer I Study Guide and have Edward Finegan & Robert Liguori on-line! See this thread for details.
I took a course at the Sun Network Conference which was pretty much a prep job for the exam - it helps to familiarize you with the 'gist' of what's on the exam and what isn't. I didn't do exceptionally well on part one, but considering that I didn't really study for it I guess I did okay. As the football coaches say - it doesn't matter if you win by one point or 21, a win is a win. As such I passed SCEA Part I with a score of 79. I've been working in Java doing architect level work for a great many years so I'd say that the test is 'misleadingly easy.' I absolutely cannot recommend the master exam book on the subject - I'll just say that its not entirely on the mark with respect to the questions it asks. I also found several editorial issues with the book as well as some sample exam questions that simply were unanswerable in context. There is also a lot of information in that book which is not in any remote way subject material for the exam. While its useful for learning all the bits and pieces of J2EE - its not necessarily well suited for prepping you for this exam. Back to my 'misleadingly easy' comment. The types of questions asked of you on the exam are the type such that you must really understand what they question is asking you or else you'll be thrown for a loop. I would strongly suggest writing down stuff - especially when it comes down to some of the questions asking 'what solution would you use for this architecture'. At first glance the test will appear to be very easy - but that's not really the case, so check your work not once but twice - BUT once you choose an answer, be damn sure that you want to change it. I found the scoring of the exam very useful - if unfamiliar. It will tell you the percentage/grade based on certain areas of the exam. There were many (most) areas that I scored 100% on. But there were some that I did poorly on - scoring 50% and 69%. I will revisit those going forward just to make sure that it was my misunderstanding of the test questions and not the technology that made me miss the question. I've downloaded part II of the test - the architecture design, and this part is actually less ominous than the first part because I do this for a living and have architected many solutions many times in the past. While this one poses some 'interesting' constraints/requirements, I feel much more comfortable with this part of the test - and consider the 3rd part pretty much a gimme since I will certainly know my own work when asked about it