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Exam tips and feedback on Sun's epractice and Epractizelabs mock exams

Rodrigo Cunha
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 19, 2008
Posts: 44
I have cleared SCEA5 this morning and boy.. that was a hell of a beating.. for sure the most dificult exam I ever took. It was harder than I thought it could be. Score wasn't what I expected to have.. 68%.

Also, timing was too short.. now before I took the test, when I read people mentioning that on some topics here, it might have gone thru my mind the idea that they could've been overreacting or something.. now please do not make the same mistake I made and listen to this.. THE TIME IS REALLY SHORT!!! I think that maybe they decided to make it that way to turn it almost impossible to get a high score or something.
By the time I finished the whole exam, I had about 3 and a half minutes to review the questions and I still had 4 left blank!

For my preparation, here it goes:
- Cade's book
- Core J2EE Patterns
- Head First design patterns
- Core Security Patterns
- JSF Spec
- Sun JavaWSTutorial
- Java Web Start white paper: http://java.sun.com/developer/technicalArticles/WebServices/JWS_2/JWS_White_Paper.pdf
- Javaranch SCEA forum and here I'd like to add a special thread:
McKenzie 's Wrote SCEA Beta Test Exam Today - Feedback on the Sun Certified Architect Part 1 - specially Cameron and Flavio Oliva feedback(page 2)

Some advices: know your patterns well, (and by well I mean inside out) do not ignore even the most ignorable property of a pattern, know scenarios where you can use every single one of them. They'll give you a scenario and ask which pattern might be suitable to implement such solution.

Prepare for some dynamic speed reading, you really have to read and understand scenarios really fast.

Many people have said that but just in case you haven't read it yet. There'll be no code or UML on it.

Don't expect easy straighforward questions like.. which of the following patterns allow you to have only one instance of an object? nooo! wake up! you're not in disneyland! It's not gonna be that easy... most of questions will be scenario based and will focus on that detail of the pattern that you thought it wasn't so important.

Getting a question right by eliminating the obviously wrong ones won't exactly work for this exam. There will be no obviously wrong questions! Most of the answers are really close to solve the problem.

Be prepared to understand many different jargons.. and to make lots of assumptions (specially on the common architecture questions), they won't make it easy for you!

Despite some forum topics here say that questions are high level, you will be asked about details of technologies, so don't assume you'll be fine if you think JMS is for asynchronous message only and that's it.. be sure you know details of it (not code).

Be prepared for some scope change as well.. many questions will start by guiding you towards a direction and all of a sudden they give you one small unnoticeable detail that can change the whole thing. So read the whole question carefully (but don't waste too much doing it).

Know applicability and details of Dispatch API, JAXP, JAXB, JAXR and many other Webservice related technologies/APIs.. as well as details and applicability of JSF components, you'll be asked for it (inside a tough description scenario).

Don't expect mock exams to help you a lot. Even if they say they cover SCEA 5, you'll find many questions on the old exam, and a few highlevel questions that won't help you much in the real thing.

Oh, and speaking of mock exams, I decided to go over this subject a bit differently. I have acquired 2 mock exams to prepare for the test and I'm gonna give you my opinion on them comparing to what you'll face in the real thing, as follows:

Sun ePractice

Why should you buy Sun epractice:
- It will give you some direction on the areas you need to focus. But only directions, don't even think it will give you a slightly idea of what you'll face in the exam because it won't. Questions on the real thing are a lot harder.
- It will give you some references to start looking at.

Why should you NOT buy it:
- really really easy compared to the real thing. I finished the second form with 89% in a bit more than half an hour.
- poor explanation of questions, you'll see things like.. question A is right, question B, C and D are wrong because they don't address the requirements (no s t! I thought it would be totally the oposite..)

Epractize Labs

Why should you buy Epractize Labs:
- it will help you understand (when not confusing you) some of the topics on the old exam in a very high level way.
- they say they guarantee your money back if you don't pass.

Why should you NOT:
- questions were not even close to what you face in the real exam (regarding difficulty). Too many straighforward questions.
- lots of question on the old exam (by not saying the majority of it): and here I really had the impression that they've collected most of their questions from the old exam.
- really poor english (you really have a hard time understanding what they want to say in some questions/answers). You'll see quite some freakiness here.
- misleading explanations (this is what p****d me off the most! some of the questions were opposite to what you have in the specification)
- poor questions on jsf, webservices and new technologies (and very few of them.. )
- lots of wrong questions (that can really confuse you - specially on the common architecture questions where a scenario is introduced and even the most fine detail can make a huge difference in the correct answer.)
- lots of repeated questions (not including the ones they had an statement denied and considered a whole new question)
- you can find CODE in the mock exam (even though the test does NOT have any CODE)
- really malformed questions and here I include:
* questions with duplicate answers (2 choices w/ exact same verbiage)
* questions pointing out a wrong answer as right and having the right answer on the explanation).
- hard to report errors;
All of this made me believe that this mock exam wasn't reviewed for SURE and made me regret of spending my money on it.

Well, I guess that's about it.. I'd like to wish you all prospective SCEA exam takers good luck!


Rodrigo Cunha<br />SCJP, SCWCD, SCEA5(I)
Nilesh Kaneriya
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 24, 2007
Posts: 19
Congrats.....

Thanks a lot for sharing your experience. It would help a lot to all SCEA aspirants.
[ July 03, 2008: Message edited by: Nilesh Kaneriya ]

Nilesh Kaneriya<br />SCJP 5.0 | SCWCD 1.4 | SCBCD 5.0
Deepak Bala
Bartender

Joined: Feb 24, 2006
Posts: 6661
    
    5

Congrats !

Thank you for sharing your experience.


SCJP 6 articles - SCJP 5/6 mock exams - More SCJP Mocks
Paren Parikh
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 36
Hey Rodrigo,

Congrats, I have question.. how much do you one would need to focus on EJB 3.0 stuff and Java Security..

Thanks,
Paren
Rodrigo Cunha
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 19, 2008
Posts: 44
Originally posted by Paren Parikh:
Hey Rodrigo,

Congrats, I have question.. how much do you one would need to focus on EJB 3.0 stuff and Java Security..

Thanks,
Paren


Actually it all depends on your background on both subjects. If you have time to prepare for the exam, read Core Security Patterns and for EJB 3, I think the best source will be the spec itself. Also, one of the books I liked was O'Reilly - Enterprise JavaBeans 3.0, Fifth Edition.

I believe both will give you some background to prepare for the exam, but again.. you won't find answers for the exam in there, questions will be always included in some scenario so you'll have to know how to apply the technologies in a very specific context.

Good luck and keep in mind that the exam is hard and specially that time won't be enough, so be prepared to read and understand questions as fast as possible.
wang andrew
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 12, 2008
Posts: 31
Congratulation Rodrigo !
I am glad I didn't buy Epractize Labs.
Cameron Wallace McKenzie
author and cow tipper
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Aug 26, 2006
Posts: 4968
    
    1

I'm glad that post of ours was able to help you out a bit in your success.

The exam time is very restricted.

It's a really tough exam. You don't see alot of high scores, just people passing, and being very, very relieved to have done just that.

Congratulations! Great SCEA exam feedback!

-Cameron McKenzie
Paren Parikh
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 36
Hello Rodrigo,

When you said that questions were scenario based so out of the 64 questions how many were scenario based ? All ? or 50 %?

Any input is highly appreciated..

Regards
Paren
Rodrigo Cunha
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 19, 2008
Posts: 44
Originally posted by Paren Parikh:
Hello Rodrigo,

When you said that questions were scenario based so out of the 64 questions how many were scenario based ? All ? or 50 %?

Any input is highly appreciated..

Regards
Paren


I'd say 85% - 95% were scenario based.
Be prepared to know the advantages and drawbacks of using certain technology on a specific scenario that they'll come up with. I'm not allowed to give you a specific scenario here.. but they'll test your ability to understand a scenario and apply a set of technologies to it. That's why I think it's kinda hard to point out a "read and you'll pass" book for this certification.

Good luck and hope this help.
Regards
Patel Ashish
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 31, 2006
Posts: 5
Hi,
thanks for sharing your experiance.
Paren Parikh
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 36
Rodrigo,

Thanks for your valuable feedback

Regards
Paren
sri san
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 30, 2008
Posts: 18
I do agree with Rodrigo Cunha on SCEA exam review and especaillay Whizlab and EPractize simulators. But, IMHO, time is quite sufficient. Regarding, exam time, it's subjective, I had done my questions in 90 mins and had 30 mins for review. It all depends, as Rodrigo Cunha, mentioned how quickly you can read and comprehend questions.

So, pracise a lot!

Good luck!

Cheers,
--Sannidhi--
setu patel
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 09, 2008
Posts: 5
I just (08/09/08) cleared the SCEA 5 part 1 with 60% (don't mind that score :-)). It was very good experience, I was thrilled when I got my score. I was planing for this exam since while but wanted to wait till get reviews from others about java 5 and what to expect on EJB 3.0 questions. I still think there is no enough information online about the format of the new exam. Based on my preparation I should be getting more that 75%, but some questions just drag me down.

First of all the simulator are good but don't expect question format anywhere near to those, the real questions are very tricky and you almost feel all answers are same, very hard to choose.

here some information on questions and patterns and newly introduce technologies.

1) No java code question nor any question on whats new on java 5 like enhance for loop, generics, etc.

2) Most design pattern questions were around their applicabilities (multiple choices)

3) Few EJB3.0 questions, what is changes as part of session beans and entity beans

4) Quite few question on JTA and integration of JTA with other technologies

5) Quite few question on JSF and integration of JSF with other web tier technologies

6) Also few question on web services and their role in SOA.

All other areas of exam where same as it would for older SCEA, like same amount of question on security, web tier, business tier and QoS requirements.

I would say study as you would for the older SCEA exam and add JSF, JTA, JDO and web Service (SOA). With that you should be fine.

-Setu (Samir)
Chaminda Amarasinghe
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 17, 2006
Posts: 402
Hi Rodrigo Cunha,

Thank you very much for your valuable thought,

Congratulation

Prasad Eranki
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 17, 2009
Posts: 1
Thanks alot guys this thread helped me to clear the exam , especially rodrigo's heads-up about exam.

Regards
Prasad Eranki
 
Don't get me started about those stupid light bulbs.
 
subject: Exam tips and feedback on Sun's epractice and Epractizelabs mock exams
 
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