After quite some time preparing for the exam, I made my mind four weeks ago and scheduled the exam. I took it yesterday and scored 97% (only two wrong answers).
This is how I prepared: Me and a group of collegues started preparing in January. We are lucky, as our company encourages people and provides us with the study material. We prepared one chapter per week. That gave me the opportunity to get a good degree of understanding of each chapter before going into the next. I also practiced a lot, specially when the theory seemed not enough.
The book I used was HFSJ. The IDE: no IDE at all!!! (this was really important). Just Tomcat5.5, java 5.0 a text editor and the shell (I am a Linux' guy, so I am used to using the console). Ah! And I used the specs whenever either the book nor tomcat weren't enough.
After finishing my first reading of the book, I went for a second one where I tried to memorize some concepts. This second reading took me longer than I thought (but not longer that the first one, where I focused on understanding). As I have more a visual memory, to help me remember APIs I prepared an UML class diagram where I put all the relevant classes, interfaces and methods. Although it took me some time, it revealed really usuful for me specially when it was printed. I also printed some portions of the spec (first part of the servlets spec, DD and TLD's DTD and diagrams, custom tags, directives, standard actions, core JSTL actions and "Marc Peobody on Patterns" notes).
I also visited this forums at least twice a day for the past two months, tried to answer some questions, made some myself and did a lot of mock exams recommended by ranchers (they can be found in Java Ranch's links section). Only the week-end before the exam, I took HFSJ's final mock: I scored 82% but I really did not believe the +20% rule would apply for me, as it looked too high.
The day of the exam, I woke up and leave early. In my case, I had to take the exam in another city. I used the almost 3 hs ride to review the material I took with me: the printed pages of the specs, Marc's notes on patterns and my UML diagram. I arrived to the city, had a light meal waited a couple of hours (while still revisiting some concepts) and headed to Prometric Center. The exam was easier than HFSJ's final mock.
I want now to thank all the people that helped me go through this nice experience: my employer, my work collegues, Bryan, Kathy and Bert for their wonderful book, Marc Green for his site and the mock exams he is giving for free, Marc Peabody for his pattern notes and for sharing his expertise in these forums (and specially for that hand you gave me last Saturday with my final mock doubt: you calmed me down), Satou kurinosuke for being always here helping people, and a lot of other members of this community: like Jothi, Tiffiny, Atul among many others.
So, what's next? Well. I will take a week rest from study and then I'll begin preparing for SCJP 5.0 Upgrade exam (something I wanted to do before this one).
Take care all of you and good luck for your exam. [ May 15, 2007: Message edited by: Sergio Tridente ]
Originally posted by Atul Sawant: why not SCJD or SCBCD!?
Later. I won't have much time for prepapring either of them before my holidays (August) and I don't want to interrupt studying (I did that for SCJP 5.0 and still did not go to write the exam). One thing a the time.