I'm happy to announce that I took Part 1 today and passed with a score of 91% (44/48)
Or, in JavaRanch-English: Today I "appeared" and "gave" SCEA Part 1 and "cleared" it with 91%
I gave myself exactly 1 week to prepare for this examination. On balance, it is probably the easiest certification exam I have taken as it doesn't deal with too many low level detail/specifics. About 50% of the questions are insultingly easy; you'd have to be someone who has just walked off the street to not get these questions right. A further 25% of the questions can be worked out with a high degree of confidence by a process of elimination ( the wrong answers are quite obviously wrong). Which leaves the last 25% requiring some degree of experience or knowledge and common sense.
Preparation Material: - Mark Cade book (online via Safari subscription) - Paul Allen Book (only chapters on Legacy Connectivity and Common Architecture - read at book store) - Online free mocks (more on that later) - Half-an-hour before exam - Google for a few clarifications.
Study Timetable: - Monday: 3-4 hours - speed read most of Mark Cade book (ignored case study and skipped over details of design patterns)
- Tuesday: 2-3 hours - Flipped through 2 chapters of Paul Allen Book in book store: Common Architecture + Legacy Connectivity. The time could probably have been better spent given that the material in the Allen book was terrible IM.
- Wednesday: No study.
- Thursday: No study.
- Friday: 3-4 hours - brushed up on design patterns and took some mock tests: (Free Whizlabs practice questions: http://certification.about.com/od/freequestions/a/blscea_intro.htm) Not a bad mock. Some questions similar in style to the real exam. Other questions very different in style. Specifically, questions pertaining to the lower level details of EJB methods etc. Worth doing this mock.
- [Val removed link due to copyright violations]
I only did a couple of pages of questions but probably should have done more. Some of the scenario-based questions for Common Architecture, Legacy connectivity, Applicability of J2EE, Design Patterns etc. are quite similar in style and content to the real exam.
This list of questions, is probably all you really need + Cade in order to pass the exam.
- Saturday: 4-5 hours - re-read UML in Cade and filled in some holes. Read some notes from some people: (Pete Morgan's Notes: http://www.sarahandpete.com/work/SCEAexamnotes.pdf) These are actually excellently prepared notes but goes into too low level detail on some topics. Suggest you ignore all J2EE design patterns except DAO. Ignore protocols - stick to those in Cade IMO. Just read through at least once. (Tim Ho's Notes: http://www.coderanch.com/t/150016/java-Architect-SCEA/certification/passed-part-today) Just read through once quickly. Some redundant/irrelevant info contained. Took some mocks: (Amit's mock: http://www.stormpages.com/jnagal/mock.html) Has some good questions but I feel a lot of the EJB questions are too low level for the SCEA exam. Method signatures for Home and Remote interface, deployment descriptior details etc. I believe these are not topics required for the exam. Take your chances. The Applet also appears to have some bugs in it: marks some of the answers before you've taken the test and no scroll bar to read long questions. On balance, probably not worth doing unless you have spare time.
- Sunday: 2-3 hours - took some mocks and re-read some bits of Cade. (http://www.moelholm.com/) Did both mocks quickly: circa 20 mins each. Scored around 58% each! This was the night before exam. In reality, these mocks are harder because they don't tell you the number of options to choose. The wrong options are not obviously wrong (In the real exam, many options can easily be eliminated because they are completely ridiculous). Lastly, some of the questions are far more low-level than in the real exam. Also, I did them very quickly and probably would have scored higher under more exam-like conditions. - Monday(exam day): 1-2 hours: read through some revision notes of other people on the train to the exam: (John Weatherbie's notes: http://stephane.weber1.free.fr/SCEA/Notes/John_Wetherbie_Notes.txt) Looked up the Entity bean lifecycle on my PDA whilst in the waiting room: In hindsight, these three pages + Cade probably would have been more than sufficient EJB preparation for the exam: [ UD: removed links to copyrighted material ]
If you aren't familiar with the whole concept of EJBs then you probably shouldn't be taking the exam! However, there seem to be some other content from the book that might give you sufficient background.
Disadvantages: - I have never done any Java programming professionally. - I have never designed, written or deployed an EJB. - I haven't even been working in IT for over 2 years.
Advantages: - I am a native English speaker - there are zero barriers to reading, understanding and comprehending learning material or exam questions. - I can speed read pretty well - pick out salient points in text and consume a lot of information quite quickly. - Computer Science Degree back in '98 - Been "around" server-side Java technology on the periphery for a few years a while ago. Always wanted to get into it but never got a job. All of the concepts were not new to me. Server-side business logic. Network topologies. Internet protocols etc. somehow these are all things that I know about without actually having done any in the context of Java.
I can only go by the questions I was asked in the exam, you may be asked completely different questions. With that in mind here are my comments on various exam objectives:
These were very straight forward. After all they are the basic concepts. UML questions were very easy. Stick to Cade content. If you must supplement - make sure you are looking at UML 1.x material. Suggest you don't use latest version of Fowler's UML distilled. If you can get older version, might be worth it. Just know the basics - it's all quite straight forward.
I can't recommend any decent learning material to cover this objective. The Paul Allen material was rambling and disorganised. If you take the mocks I took, you will start to see "patterns" emerging with respect to the type of questions and concepts you need to know about.
Again, after taking the mocks, you will see patterns emerging. Topics like: Screen-scraping, Object mapping etc. You can learn about these JUST from the mocks. You don't need to know the details, just when to use them - the question normally gives a big fat clue.
CAVEAT: A lot of mocks put a great deal of emphasis on Java IDL, RMI-IIOP, CORBA etc. This emphasis may not be consistent with the actual exam. I didn't do any special preparation on these topics outside of what is mentioned in Cade. However, once again, once you review your mock answers etc. you should pick up enough from these tests to "learn" about the topics.
I read the chapter on legacy connectivity in Paul Allen. I wish I could get that time back. This chapter was terribly written. More to the point it covered a great deal on JCA which is not mentioned in the objectives and doesn't really make an appearance in any mocks. Unless, someone can tell me that they've had a JCA question in the real exam, I would suggest ignoring JCA altogether except for knowing high level concepts for what it's trying to achieve - but then you probably already know that.
As stated earlier, I think a lot of mocks put too much emphasis on lower level API methods, signatures, returns, undefined Primary Key classes, deployment descriptors, CMT vs. BMT, low level methods for rolling back transactions etc.
After taking some of the mocks, you will learn about these topics by default anyway without having to do any explicit learning. However, I still believe the level of detail in the mocks is not quite right. You may get asked different questions to me though!
Stick to the objectives. e.g. differences between Stateful and Stateless: - Stateless session beans aren't passivated therefore any options involving the passivation of stateless session beans are meaninless regardless of the rest of the option content. - Stateless session beans don't maintain conversational state etc.
EJB Container model
There's not much to this objective really. Pooling and Passivation. Refer to the pages mentioned above + Cade and you should be set:
[ UD: removed links to copyrighted material ]
Cade covered it. I think the only ports you need to know are 80 and 443 for HTTP and HTTPS.
Understand which protocols are connection-based and which are connection less. Unless you've been living under a rock all of this should be common knowledge.
Applicability of J2EE
I didn't do any special preparation on this topic. In fact, I can't remember the questions I was asked on this topic. I think these questions are fairly obvious when J2EE is applicable or a complete misfit but I may be underestimating my inherent understanding through being in the industry for a while.
The questions I got on this subject were very easy. The descriptions had very obvious clues about which pattern it was talking about.
I did no specific preparation for this topic as the concepts were already familiar. It all seems quite obvious: Point to Point, Publish/Subscribe. Synchronous. Asynchronous. Learn from the mocks. You'll notice a pattern.
The questions on messaging are generally loaded with clues about whether messaging is appropriate and whether asynchronous or synchronous is required. Just do the mocks, and you'll get the idea. Again, some mocks asked questions on the methods involved e.g. onMessage(), receive() etc. I believe this is too low level detail for the SCEA exam. Then again, it's quite easy to learn that stuff in a few minutes.
There's not much to it. Cade is more than sufficient IMO. The same kind of questions come up in all of the mocks and they can't really ask much different questions in the real exam. Just use your head when thinking about what might need to be internationalize in an application. The wrong answers are obviously wrong. java.text for formatting etc.
Well, I got two questions wrong on this topic (out of 4)! I think I know which ones. I was expecting more on the topics of Public Key cryptography, digital signatures, Certificate Authoritys etc.
It's difficult to know whether my questions were typical of what other candidates got or will get.
I had two questions on Applet related security. Cade didn't cover quite enough on this as far as the exam was concerned. However, you'll probably be able to answer the question just from experience when you've downloaded untrusted applets etc. and perhaps had dialogs pop up.
It seems that there is so much information about this exam online now that it is probably quite severely devalued and any idiot like me can take it and score very highly. The content of the exam is very dated and it's important to prepare with material that covers the older stuff that is in the exam.
Good luck to those yet to take it!
[ February 12, 2007: Message edited by: Peter Cook ]
[ February 13, 2007: Message edited by: Valentin Crettaz ] [ August 03, 2007: Message edited by: Ulf Dittmer ]
Congrats and thanks for this fantastic post. My husband and I are about to start on the quest to become certified and both our backgrounds are almost exactly the same as yours... will post once we've completed it on our successes. It sure is nice to have a nice day-by-day guide to just start off on.
Congratulations and Thanks Cook!!! That is great piece of information, will definitely be useful a lot for newbies like me.I see great posts from you here in the forum.
Joined: Feb 01, 2007
Originally posted by LadyMahler: Congrats and thanks for this fantastic post. My husband and I are about to start on the quest to become certified and both our backgrounds are almost exactly the same as yours... will post once we've completed it on our successes. It sure is nice to have a nice day-by-day guide to just start off on.
Thank you. Bear in mind that I'm quite a fast reader/learner. I didn't realise this until a few years ago when it became apparent that I was 2 to 3 times faster at getting through material than some of my colleagues. Lucky me.
The Mark Cade book is also very concise and easy to read. Just make a note of which objectives are not covered by it. The list of objectives at the back of the book is out of date compared to the Sun website.
Joined: Feb 01, 2007
Originally posted by Rahul Toaikani: Congratulations and Thanks Cook!!! That is great piece of information, will definitely be useful a lot for newbies like me.I see great posts from you here in the forum.
Thank you. I've only made a few posts so far but I hope you find them useful...don't confuse me with someone else who has a similar name and has been around here a lot longer than me: Peter Cooke!
Peter wrote: Or, in JavaRanch-English: Today I "appeared" and "gave" SCEA Part 1 and "cleared" it with 91%
Nice observation Here's some bacground on that: "appeared" appears to be a colonial hangover; archaic english? "gave" appears to be a literal translation of the colloquial Hindi term "Exam Diya" or "I gave the exam". "Cleared" appears normal even in US English. But hey, I speak native JavaRanch-English, too. So, I could be wrong.
Originally posted by Shapra Benglur: "Cleared" appears normal even in US English. But hey, I speak native JavaRanch-English, too. So, I could be wrong.
I looked in the Oxford English Dictionary, which has 23 categories of meaning for the verb "clear" in 7 groups. It does mention "to clear an examination paper (mod. colloq.)" but I have never heard this usage from anybody who learned English in North America.