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SCEA5 Beta exam comments

Raj Mishra
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 18, 2007
Posts: 15
This is my experience on how the SCEA Beta5 exam went. I was not able to enter any comments for Sun during the exam but I guess their main intent is to determine the applicability and impact of the questions which they can get from an analysis from all the tests. I actually had some 'ahaa' moments for some of the questions although I was not underestimating the exam by any means. On the other hand, there was a couple of questions that needed knowledge of Java package level class names. I think the thought here is that if you are in an architect role using J2EE technology, you will be encountering these names and using them as part of your analysis / design.

Anyways, for those who are interested these are some of the materials that I looked at before I gave the exam.
Core J2EE Patterns: Best Practices and Design Strategies (2nd Edition) - Deepak Alur, John Crupi and Dan Malks
Core Security Patterns: Best Practices and Strategies for J2EE, Web Services, and Identity Management
Enterprise Java Beans (for v3)- Richard Monson-Haefel
Java Enterprise in a Nutshell - David Flanagan, Jim Farley, William Crawford, Kris Magnusson
Head first design patterns
Java EE Tututorial
Various other SOA-related books

I also read a lot of articles / documents etc that have been uploaded in the various groups mostly related with n-tier stuff and legacy application integration. I would say 50% of the old materials are still a valid read for these exams. I had a ton of books that was on a read-list for this exam but I had to prepone this by a few days and did not get a chance to review them. It would have been a definite plus to review some of the Security topics and the J2ee core patterns. I also would have got a few questions more in the non-functional aspects of a design (not sure if I got it right or not).

Overall, there were 2 most repetituos types - patterns, n-tier architecture and J2ee component design. Make sure you understand how patterns are described, how it is used and what are the differentiating aspects of each one of them. As I mentioned before, I may have missed most of the J2ee core patterns questions (and there a few of them). As an architect, you would have to assume that patterns are necessary tools for solution architecture and I am not surprised there were so many questions on that. I was a little relieved that there were no questions that picked up a Java class and asked what pattern it follows. Similarly with the J2EE core patterns. Be very comfortable with all the patterns. In fact, spend 15 minutes before the start of the exam to jot down the patterns on the scribble pad. It will help as a ready reference during the exam rather than scratching your head in the heat of the moment and making unnecessary mistakes.

The next pattern of questions was related with the best solution for the presentation / web application area. Uderstand what are the variuos advantages / drawbacks for each of the specs in the Web-tier. By this I mean, understand why you would want to use Jsp with tag files as opposed to JSF as an example. Understand the reason why JSF is the next generation for jsp development. There were a few questions that were thrown in that compared these options with other technologies like Ajax, applets, other web development frameworks. So know when you will want to select a particular framework over the rest. Once again, this is one of the core responsibilities of an architect - pros/cons for the technology options.

There were a few questions on B2B / B2C / EAI including legacy system integrations. However, none of them were specific to CORBA (thank god!!). I would have selected Web services as the preferred option for any of this as the first choice and then look at the other options available and the scenario described. It is not always the best option. Understand the available options well for application integration (SOAP / RMI / Web services / EJB services / etc). Also, understand the specs that are related to these (WS-* specs, JAX*, etc).

Read the Core Security patterns (at least the first part of it). There were few questions related to security for the business tier as well as Java Web Start (I had no idea on Java Web Start). Undertand the gist of the question, the real heartache, the real problem. Most of the options given will be applicable in other aspects of a Java-based design but does not apply to the scenario mentioned. If you are unsure, mark it and when you review the question again, just look at the options that you thought were not correct. If you still think that they dont apply, then move ahead. Most of the time, when you review your unsure response after the end of the first iteration, you would be more confident on the correct options.

For people who are doing BPM / BPA and using BPEL, there would be some confusing terminlogies like workflow / business model. but if you have been reading to prepare for this exam ,it wont be a huge issue.

There was no mention about lifecycle of EJB or the container services which was surprising as well as a relief. But understand the JPA specs well including injections / declarative as well as programmatic. On the same lines, understand what can be controlled by both options and when it makes sense to use either.

The exam started with specific SOA related questions which was a huge morale-booster for me. It got me all fired up. Keep in mind that as you get towards the end of the exam, you will have the tendency to not be as alert as your first couple of hours. Shake it off and remember why you spent the better part of your life for the last 2 weeks preparing for this certification. If you are still not able to concentrate, then mark the question and move on. But when you revisit it, get your act together. I did not get any of the huge (2 para) questions that other posters mentioned on this forum, so I might be underestimating a little bit here. But if you have prepared well, and understand the specs well, and get the gist of the question quickly, then it will be a cakewalk. Just make sure you have had enough sleep the night prior and a healthy breakfast on the day of the exam. By the time I was a couple of hours in the exam, the hunger spasm was creating a distraction. Once again, focus on the exam and push away any distractions.

Please note that above comments are not in specific order. Hopefully it will help a few people who are going to take the test in the next few remaining days.

This is my first Sun certification so I cannot comment on how this one conpares with the previous versions, but I think the mix of the questions, the difficulty level and the scenarios are very applicable for an EA. I was expecting a few more SOA/EAI related questions as well as BPM and how J2EE plays a role in this but overall I think this is a well-rounded set of questions. Towards the end of my preparation phase, I was getting a little frustrated (for various reasons), but after giving this exam I think this is going to turn out to be one heck of a certification for any software architect to strive for.

Raj.
PMI-Certified - PMP
IBM Certified - SOA Soln Designer, Business Process analyst, WID
Hong Anderson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 05, 2005
Posts: 1936
Thank you.


SCJA 1.0, SCJP 1.4, SCWCD 1.4, SCBCD 1.3, SCJP 5.0, SCEA 5, SCBCD 5; OCUP - Fundamental, Intermediate and Advanced; IBM Certified Solution Designer - OOAD, vUML 2; SpringSource Certified Spring Professional
Cameron Wallace McKenzie
author and cow tipper
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Aug 26, 2006
Posts: 4968
    
    1

This is your first Sun certification and you went for SCEA? Wow, now that's diving in head first, without really knowing if there's any water in the pool.



I agree with your book selections. The big thing whole that remains though is the JSF part. You really do need to know a good deal about JSF without having to know the intricacies a programmer would need to know. It's tough finding a document that will provide that level of detail.

I agree with your comments about reviewing answers after an iteration of similar questions. Sometimes the answers in one question would fill in some holes on some other questions. I certainly found that during the man-in-the-middle and session capture security questions. Of course, we were blessed with lots of questions. When the exam is cut down to 50 or 60 questions, test takers probably won't be so lucky. I guess we can consider ourselves 'blessed' that we took the 160 question SCEA architect exam.

Thanks for the comments!

-Cameron McKenzie
Manishi Manush
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 05, 2006
Posts: 24
Hi raj ,
Thanks for the feedback. I would like to know couple of things based on your experience.
This will help me in concentrating only those portions which are required.

1) what chapters to concentrate in "Enterprise Java Beans (for v3)- Richard Monson-Haefel"
as far as the exam is concerned.
2) what books to follow to study for n-tier architecture and component design
3) Do you still think it is useful to study 'Head first design patterns'
after studying core j2ee patterns and GoF
Cameron Wallace McKenzie
author and cow tipper
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Aug 26, 2006
Posts: 4968
    
    1

As far as EJB-3 goes, spend a good deal of time understanding the connection between stateless session beans and the ability to wrap them in a web service. Also know the compatibility of the other types of EJBs with web services. There were a number of questions on that topic.

It was definitely a services oriented exam at many points.

-Cameron McKenzie
Raj Mishra
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 18, 2007
Posts: 15
I would suggest doing a couple of iterations on the EJB book. If that is not possible, make notes along the way and use them later. If you have used EJBs in your project before then it will not take a long time for you to do a quick walkthrough. Just read the sections that are new / different from the what you already know.
The thing about patterns is that the first step in understanding / applying the pattern is always the difficult step. The Head First book made understanding the patterns more easy with a visual representation that was easy to follow. I actually have not read the Gof book so cant comment on it. But I think it will serve the same purpose if you understand them.
I really did not read any specific books for n-tier. This type of information is there everywhere. If you have been doing n-tier stuff, then chances are you already know most of the concepts. Looking at some of the Sun documents will not hurt. Same thing for component design. why will you use an EJB in your projoect? Why is servlets necessary if it is just a nuch of static html pages? Why will you want the overhead of a stateful session bean if you can maintain the state elsewhere? things of that nature. There is really no specific book that will give you the answers to these questions. It will be something you will gather based on experience and understanding of the capabilities provided by the different J2EE specs.

Best of luck on your exam.
Raj Mishra
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 18, 2007
Posts: 15
Manishi,
Sorry I was not very helpful in my previous response. Look at the SCEA for J2EE Study guide. I am not able to tell who the authors are from the PDF but I think it is Paul Allen and gang. For some reason this book was not given good remarks on the Amazon and other places but I fonud the book extensive and quite helpful. Browse through that book as a summary a day before the exam. I think it is in the files section on one of the SCEA prep. groups. If you cant find it let me know.

Cameron,
I had a feel of the depth before I made the jump. I was managing a Java/C++ team till a couple of years back and recently changed roles to an architect where I had some hands-on Java experience with SOA pilot projects. The last I read a spec was during the CMP days (what a disaster) and fast-forward to JPA (cool!!). Same thing with JSP and now JSF (Eclipse makes JSF very developer friendly). So yes, it was a head-first dive but I know what I was getting into. I am just angry at myself for not giving more time to prepare for it and getting stalled a couple of times (I lost 3-4 hours there). I am sure it would be easy for folks who are already neck deep into J2EE which kind of surprises me why there are so many programming-type questions on most of the SCEA forums. Hopefully with this new set of questions the focus would be on architecting / designing a solution rather than low-level apis.
Manishi Manush
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 05, 2006
Posts: 24
Thank you Raj for your reply. I already have the book.
Raj Mishra
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 18, 2007
Posts: 15
Another comment I just recalled after reading another post over here. For the drag n drop questions, if you revisit it and click on the 'exhibit' again, your previous selections will not be retained. You will have to match them all over again. I had marked all questions of this type (since they were so simple that I did not spend too much time on it and was hoping to catch any mistakes later). But when I found out that I will have to do that over, I did not revisit any of the remaining. It is difficult to make up your mind to redo something after a 3/4 hour grueling exercise. I am hoping somebody from Sun can take this as an improvement suggestion since it is definitely not user-friendly.

Also, is the passing percentage for this exam the same as the normal SCEA exam? Considering the length of the exam and the unknown (potentially 'unfavorable') algorithm for the selection of the most appropriate questions for grading, I am of the opinion that the passing percerntage should be lower. I would be really interested, as I am sure others would as well, in knowing Sun's position on this.

Thanks.
Vivek S. kumar
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 19, 2006
Posts: 25
Hi Raj or any other rancher

could you please point me to the pdf you are taking just 2-3 post above... which is not recommeded but you find it useful..

Vik


"Make Your Own Rules and Rock The World"
Manishi Manush
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 05, 2006
Posts: 24
Hi Raj: Thanks for reminding about the Drag & Drop (D&D) questions. I did not see anybody(scea5 beta writers) mentioning these type of question from previous posts.
what kind of questions you got in D&D? I know that there are no code related questions or API related questions or UML related questions. I was wondering what kind of questions you got?
ankur rathi
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 11, 2004
Posts: 3830
The exam contained questions about following technologies:

1. Design Pattern (GoF and Core J2EE).
2. Presentation technologies (JSF, JSP, Servlet, Tags, Ajax, HTML, Applet etc), mostly where to use what technology.
3. EJB.
4. JPA.
5. JMS.
6. Security.
8. WebServices, SOAP, JAXB, JAXP, XML over HTTP.
8. One tier, two tier and three tier and related NFRs (Non Functional Requirements).

Please add if I missed one or two...

I am just wondering, are these technologies enough for an enterprise architect!!!


[ October 22, 2007: Message edited by: ankur rathi ]
James J Zhang
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 06, 2004
Posts: 11
SCEA 5 is a great upgrade to previous version. I had taken SCEA in 2003. Although I have gained more architectual experiences within these years, I still feel some of question are challenging to me. Because I have depth knowledge in Java WS, JSF, JPA and previous exam experience, I didn't take any technical readings to prepare this time.

The new exam covers more senarios than before, such as data warehouse based JEE application. The test shows equally repect to all technologies. Nothing is better than another without specific circumstances. As an software architect, it's our duty to choose the right solution to solve specific requirement, rather than simply picking one only based on its popularity. Less J2EE development details were tested, after all this is not the exam for developer's role.

Because there were more senario based questions, of course there were more chances leading to ambiguity. Sometimes I was strugglling to figure out the real intention of the question. My poor english forces me reading twice on most questions and answers. That left me less time thinking. Luckly I could finish them all.

I spent 4.5 hours in a small test room with 30C degree in temperature. The air condition was broken that day. Although I have brought a bottle of water with me, it's not allowed to bring it in. As someone said, beta test is NOT FREE.


SCEA, SCJWS, SCJP, OCP 9i/8i, Teradata.
Cameron Wallace McKenzie
author and cow tipper
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Aug 26, 2006
Posts: 4968
    
    1

I found there was a fair amount of 'ambiguity' in the SCEA exam questions.

I often though "you know, if I posted this SCEA question on JavaRanch, I bet you'd get a million different responses."

All part of being an architect.

I would imagine that if Sun sees certain questions just had too many people answering different things, they'd take it out of the final SCEA exam pool. That's sorta the point of the beta.

-Cameron McKenzie
Raj Mishra
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 18, 2007
Posts: 15
Ankur, along with the knowledge of the different technologies, you also need to balance it with the capabilties and existing investments that the company has already made in order to be successful. Other areas that I can think of that an architect should understand is - legacy applications and the integration architecture, evaluating and designing components as reusable services, specifying appropriate phased approach (degree of agile development vs. waterfall), etc. Some of the areas that gets very little attention (also part of the SCEA exam) is around QoS and NFRs. These become a discovery process at best or becomes a risk at a very late stage of the project. I cant think of any specific technology that can be added to your list, but I would definitely suggest investing some time in the whole SOA / business process optimization bandwagon. If the industry is able to leverage the growing / maturing SOA methodology, then very soon there will be a different language that software developers will be speaking.

James,
If the AC was brokem, I would have guessed that as a matter of courtesy, they would allow the the test takers to take a water break. I guess not
I did not get any questions on a 'data warehouse based J2EE app'. I am not sure if it would actually make sense to design a Java program for a DW or where it would fit-in overall in a DW solution. There are other technologies that would be more pertinent (and efficient) for ensuring data quality / data integrity / etc.
[ October 26, 2007: Message edited by: Raj Mishra ]
arvin ramon
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 04, 2007
Posts: 31
Test centers always allowed for water breaks... Those minutes come out of the exam time from you...
Burk Hufnagel
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 01, 2001
Posts: 814
    
    3
Originally posted by Raj Mishra:
Vivek, here is the link to the pdf.


Raj,
I think the person posting that PDF on the web may be violating the publisher's copyright. It looks like the older version of the book, but I suspect it's still a legal infringement - you should consider removing the link from your message.
Burk


SCJP, SCJD, SCEA 5 "Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science!" Agatha Heterodyne (Girl Genius)
Raj Mishra
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 18, 2007
Posts: 15
My apologies to the author. I did not mean to propogate the problem.

Thanks Burk.
Lakshmi Narayanan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 29, 2008
Posts: 58
Hi,

WebServices, SOAP, JAXB, JAXP, XML over HTTP.
do we need to know programmtically abt JaxB, JaxP?
Please help.

Thanks
Lakshmi

Originally posted by ankur rathi:
The exam contained questions about following technologies:

1. Design Pattern (GoF and Core J2EE).
2. Presentation technologies (JSF, JSP, Servlet, Tags, Ajax, HTML, Applet etc), mostly where to use what technology.
3. EJB.
4. JPA.
5. JMS.
6. Security.
8. WebServices, SOAP, JAXB, JAXP, XML over HTTP.
8. One tier, two tier and three tier and related NFRs (Non Functional Requirements).

Please add if I missed one or two...

I am just wondering, are these technologies enough for an enterprise architect!!!



[ October 22, 2007: Message edited by: ankur rathi ]


Thanks<br />Lakshmi<br />SCJP 1.4 - 90%<br />SCWCD 5 - 89%
 
Consider Paul's rocket mass heater.
 
subject: SCEA5 Beta exam comments