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My Personal Tidbits of advice on SCJP

Paul Tongyoo
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Joined: Sep 30, 2003
Posts: 91
Woohoo. I just passed the SCJP today with a 93%! Yes, very happy. I wish everyone who is preparing for the exam the very best of luck. Just wanted to drop a piece of study advice to add to the arsenal javaranch already has -- it's probably already been mentioned, so I'll confirm it at least -- but it *really* helped to go through the list of objectives for the exam (list is provided at java.sun.com) and PHYSICALLY CODE AND SUCCESSFULLY COMPILE examples that YOU THINK OF which satisfy each requirement. Doing this really engraved in my memory little things that I took for granted (and thus quickly forgotten) when taking the self-tests and practice exams. Like which methods threw exceptions. oooooooooo those pissed me off.
The only items I used to study for the test was Kathy and Bert's book and that nifty Rules Roundup game they have on this site (the beta runs great!). K&B's book truly DOES cover 99% of what the exam tests; and I say you'll learn the remaining %1 yourself by coding as suggested above. I studied daily with the book beginning September 1st and passed today. Great book. Great deal. I couldn't access the Bonus MasterExam though on the website; not complaining, but I wish the Registration option online wasn't so hidden (or I wish i had my glasses, one of those :-D). Oh! Play that Roundup game until you find yourself memorizing the answers because you've played too much -- it took me that long to finally get 100% (I guess if you memorized the answers because you actually _know_ the material that'd be good too ). I found the game asked questions on those "little things" that i'd forgotten from the book's coverage.
I guess it may be helpful for people to know about how my scores for the practice exams turned out. Well, first off -- I failed the MasterExam that was on the CD. I got a 800-something and the CD said I needed a 900; Sun only requires you to have a 52% on the current exam but I'm not complaining -- I'm glad the CD pressed a higher standard. The difficulty of the self-tests and the MasterExam were very similar to the actual SCJP I took today -- I did notice that the exams by Marcus Green seemed way harder than the test I took today. Again, not a bad thing. Oh, I also averaged 17 of 20 on the self-tests. I'd have to say my best score on a java test was my actual test score today which was a surprise and a relief. So to sum up this paragraph to another bit of advice -- don't let your practice exam scores frighten you if they're low, the p-exams are learning experiences! Just make sure you actually stop and _reflect_ on your practice scores and take action to better prep yourself for the next p.exams and the real exam.
Oh yeah -- MAKE FLASHCARDS! They DO help.
I'll stop blabbin'. Hope everyone does well on their test! Feel free to mail me at aikimonkey567@yahoo.com if you got a question.
Paul :roll:


Sun Certified Java Web Component Developer for J2EE v1.4<br />Sun Certified Java Developer for J2SE v1.4<br />Sun Certified Java Programmer for J2SE v1.4
Barkat Mardhani
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 05, 2002
Posts: 787
Hi Paul,
Great score...
You said you studied only one month. Did you have any experience with Java, C or C++
Barkat
Asha Sat
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 29, 2003
Posts: 22
This is certainly an outstanding score. Are you going for SCWCD?


{ Winners do what losers don't do }
Cathy Song
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 24, 2003
Posts: 270
Way to go Paul. Its great that you got such an amazing score by studying for only 1 month.
Just a quick question, did you use just the K&B book for Threads and Garbage Collection?
Thanks,
Cathy.
Paul Tongyoo
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 30, 2003
Posts: 91
Barkat-- if you are familar with how computer science programs are structured at universities, then those courses were the extent of my experience with Java, C, and C++. But I HONESTLY felt like my Java experience going into the test was very little; basically a one-semester course on basic Java three years ago (semantics, basic OO) and then a two-semester course on Software Engineering principles a year ago (emphasis was NOT coding) where I developed a Java-based app (used the MIDI api and a few design patterns). I also did read through O'Reilly's Java in a Nutshell series (minus the large reference sections, ARE YOU INSANE!?! ), but that was two years ago as well. I'll cite K&B's book again as my primary source of information (and enjoyment; their small jokes came just at the right times in the text).
Asha -- Since I have K&B's book, I am now moving on to the Developer exam. After reading about what the programming assignment will be like and reading the sample spec provided in the book, I am really excited to undertake this project. This sounds like the perfect addition to my *very* small (maybe "almost non-existent" is the phrase i'm looking for) portfolio of software apps. I loved my Software Engineering course in college and I see alot of what I enjoyed learning then being put to the test (literally) for the SCJD. But yes, I plan on taking all the certs from Sun. After completing the SCJP and reflecting on the amount of knowledge gained from just studying for that test, I see the knowledge gained from all the areas the Sun Certs cover as being very beneficial to the development of my app dev skills. Also I figured, as long as I can afford to, why not take the tests? Even if I failed an exam, I'm still going to learn a boatload of cool stuff (yes i was saying this to myself a million times as I was walking in to take the test yesterday ) .
Cathy -- Yes, K&B's book was my primary source for all the topics on the exam. I wish I could say the book covered exactly what my exam covered in those areas, but how the score report came out for the exam it's hard to say.(They don't tell you which problems you got wrong.) But while i took the exam, i don't remember thinking that any threading or GC question covered concepts that I hadn't seen before from K&B's book. Maybe it'd help to say that I scored 100% for the Threading section and 66% (my lowest score out of all sections) for the Garbage Collection section. The scores may hint that the material was insufficient in the garbage collection area but I say it's just me ! I know going into the test I didn't have a 100% grasp of all the different ways you could "isolate a reference" to make its object eligible for garbage collection -- i have a feeling that's where I might've lost the most points.
Oh, about my 1-month time, this is what I did (which i don't think is feasible for people with full time jobs)
For each chapter I did the following:
* Read the chapter up to the 2-min Review
* Took a break for a half-hour to an hour
* Read through the 2min Review, making flashcards for the points
I couldn't remember on my own
* Then skimmed through the chapter again making flashcards for the
little tidbits of info that the 2minReview didn't cover and I thought
were useful
* Took a break (ranged from a couple hours to alot of hours )
* Quizzed myself on the notecards
* Took the chapter self-test
* Checked what I got wrong and made flashcards on those questions/concepts
that I had forgotten/misunderstood
I did this daily (or i guess i should say _consistently_) for the month. It wasn't until the last day before the exam (i HATE how i have a month to study and i STILL end up cramming -- yes I just graduated from college in mid-August) before i learned I needed to code up examples that satisfied the Exam Objectives to really solidfy all the concepts in my head (by that time I had gotten pretty average scores on the self-tests and failed the MasterExam). Coding and successfully compiling my code(important!!) really gave me the confidence (which might have been what i need all along?) that I really did understand what K&B's book taught me.

Thanks for all your praise!
Paul
Barkat Mardhani
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 05, 2002
Posts: 787
posted by Paul:
Barkat-- if you are familar with how computer science programs are structured at universities, then those courses were the extent of my experience with Java, C, and C++. But I HONESTLY felt like my Java experience going into the test was very little; basically a one-semester course on basic Java three years ago (semantics, basic OO) and then a two-semester course on Software Engineering principles a year ago (emphasis was NOT coding) where I developed a Java-based app (used the MIDI api and a few design patterns). I also did read through O'Reilly's Java in a Nutshell series (minus the large reference sections, ARE YOU INSANE!?! ), but that was two years ago as well. I'll cite K&B's book again as my primary source of information (and enjoyment; their small jokes came just at the right times in the text).

With that experience and one month for preparation for exam, you did a great job.
I do not have any Java programming experience. Neither C or C++. I have used Visual FoxPro alot and SAS and SQL ext. Nothing technical like Java or C. I have been preparing for this test for a while on part time basis. Still I am getting like 83% in K & B master test. I guess I have long ways to go....
Barkat
Paul Tongyoo
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 30, 2003
Posts: 91

I do not have any Java programming experience. Neither C or C++. I have used Visual FoxPro alot and SAS and SQL ext. Nothing technical like Java or C. I have been preparing for this test for a while on part time basis. Still I am getting like 83% in K & B master test. I guess I have long ways to go....
Barkat


Don't forget I _failed_ the K&B exam - but I can understand you being hesitant if you haven't coded a small app in Java before. If you got time after work, it wouldn't hurt to dabble in some mock project you can think up. I bet that'll be the confidence booster that'll give you the edge to pass (which it seems like you _would_ pass already with an 83%). I didn't even finish the app I did for my S.E. course -- the main benefits I got from the project was getting comfortable developing with Java and getting a feel for what the difference was between _designing_ an app and _implementing_ it. I suggest coding an app that uses the Swing API so you can see how easy it is to make a cool program in Java.

Paul
Barkat Mardhani
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 05, 2002
Posts: 787
Thanks Paul. Next test in K & B, I got 93%. Just running out of time at the end of test. Your advice is right on money about writing an app. I try to work on it.
Thanks
Barkat
Gurukeerthi Gurunathan
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 10, 2003
Posts: 10
Barkat,
Is that the 'Self-Tests' section in K&B that you are talking about, when you say 'test in K&B'.
Thanks,
Guru.
Barkat Mardhani
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 05, 2002
Posts: 787
I am talking about exam 1 and 2 on the cd.
Unni Kainila
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 26, 2003
Posts: 45
Barkat,
The test on the CD that comes with K&B book gives you 90 minutes only for the test, isn't it? Sun exam will ahve 120 minutes. But ideally, you should be able to finish Sun's exam in 90 minutes, and use your last 30 minutes for a couple of more passes thru your answers...I find that approach worked for me. (I read in this site that same was the experiences for many..). Again from my presonal experience, my Score in Sun's exam was very close to the MasterExams.
Do Dan's exams as well - if you have not done so. They are harder than the real exam...but it is a good work-out!
Good luck
Unni
Barkat Mardhani
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 05, 2002
Posts: 787
Thanks. How do I get the bonus exam?
Marlene Miller
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 05, 2003
Posts: 1391
Hi Barkat,
When I did the two Sierra-Bates mock exams, I ran out of time. I had to try three times on the first exam and twice on the second exam before I was able to finish in 90 minutes.
Exam 1. (1) answered 39, wrong 5 (2) answered 47, wrong 3 (3) answered 64, wrong 3.
Exam 2. (1) answered 51, wrong 1 (2) answered all 65!, wrong 2
I decided I can finish in time or I can answer correctly, but I cannot do both together, either one or the other. So I postponed taking the real exam for some more practice.
Marlene
[ October 01, 2003: Message edited by: Marlene Miller ]
 
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