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Review of current SCEA Exam

Jimmy Clark
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
This review is about the first part of the current SCEA exam.

Assessment of Unfied Modeling Language is not included - This is a bit unsettling and mostly reflects the "criteria" that the exam creators felt was "relevant". In my opinion, UML is one of the most important aspects to object-oriented design, and is a real tool that the architect uses to communicate with his/her team. Large-scale enterprise systems can't really be designed and maintained without it. When new engineers come on board, the UML documentation is critical to helping them come up to speed quickly. It should not have been dropped from the exam.

Weakly written objectives - The objectives for the exam are unclear and very vaque. They do not reflect what knowledge based is being assessed. For instance, there are very few knowledge questions and a ton of subjective design-oriented questions, i.e. which design opinion below is the best?

Too many "name the best design" questions - The questions are not clear and there typically are too many answers that make sense. Software design is a gray area and there rarely is only one concrete design that works. Combine this with all the Java acronyms and you end up with a really difficult question to answer "correctly". Are EJB3 and JPA different concepts? No, they are not.

Over emphasis of presentation tier technologies - Java Server Faces all over the place. Too much emphasis on JSP pages and Java Server Faces. When compared with the number of questions about non-technical (QoS) requirements, it seemed that they pulled questions from the other certification exams for Java Developer or Web Developer. Individuals that just recently received Web Component Certification (SCWCD) will do extremely well on the current SCEA exam.

Looking to the future, I might not expect too many authors to write about exam preparation. The exam should be worked on a bit more. It was released too soon and is off a bit on the material covered. Instructional Designers are good, but this exam needs Sun Architects to review it and edit and guide, in my opinion.

Hope this helps.
[ April 19, 2008: Message edited by: James Clark ]
Hong Anderson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 05, 2005
Posts: 1936
UML is required in Part 2 exam, so I think part 1 doesn't need to include UML.

And don't forget this is "Sun" certified exam, it isn't strange that there are many questions about JSP, JSF, and EJB.

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
Jimmy Clark
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
The Class and Sequence diagrams that are required for Part 2 are not sufficient in my opinion. There is much more to UML than these basic diagram types. It was an important part of the previous SCEA exam and I feel it should not have been removed.

There are many other "Sun" certification exams that include Java Server Pages, Java Server Faces and Enterprise JavaBeans, e.g. SCWCD, SCBCD

My comments above are about the number of questions about these "low-level" API. There are too many questions concerning "presentation tier" API. Afterall, not all Java applications are Web applications and the basis of enterprise architecture deals with non-technical concepts, i.e. capacity, distributed computing, scalability, performance. Actually, it seems like the test creators either extracted questions from the other lower exams or the creators were not software architects. Either way, the credibility of this certification has been weakened, in my opinion.
[ April 20, 2008: Message edited by: James Clark ]
Roger Sun

Joined: Apr 02, 2008
Posts: 12
What kind of questions about JSF? Are they about coding or just conceptual questions?

One World, One Dream.<br />Welcome to Beijing!<br />SCEA 5 Part I, SCEA 5 Part II & III preparing
Jimmy Clark
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
There are no questions about coding or syntax level method/field structures. My comments above concern the amount of questions. These are conceptual questions, but there are too many, in my opinion. As mentioned, these questions combined with a bunch of JSP questions result in an unbalanced exam that deals very little with architectural concepts.

As a result, developers with recent experience with these technologies will be able to do well on the part I exam. It seems like it is basically an extension of the web developer certification.

Clustering, heap management, object-oriented design & domain modeling, profiling, instrumentation, replication, memory allocation, capacity planning; knowledge of key architectural concepts is not assessed.

The ability to recite the definitions of the GoF design patterns does not indicate knowledge of how they are applied to software design. There are no questions concerning "how" and "when" to use the patterns. Just questions that ask what they are. It seems backwards. There are questions of "choose the best design" for dealing with presentation API, yet there are no questions that ask for design with the design patterns. This aspect combined with the removal of UML assessment is very revealing.

The marketing strategy behind the "SCEA certification product" might need some revision, in my opinion.
[ April 21, 2008: Message edited by: James Clark ]
I agree. Here's the link:
subject: Review of current SCEA Exam
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