This week's book giveaway is in the OCAJP 8 forum. We're giving away four copies of OCA Java SE 8 Programmer I Study Guide and have Edward Finegan & Robert Liguori on-line! See this thread for details.
I took the SCJP 5 exam recently in the U.S. This message contains nothing substantive about the contents. It covers some practical matters, to give a better idea of what to expect.
After registering for an exam date and time, I was told to arrive at least 30 minutes in advance. (Prometric doesn't seem to think people might want to know this before picking a time.)
Naif that I am, I arrived 30 minutes early. No one was there. About 20 minutes before the scheduled time, the first staff person showed up, and about 5 minutes before the scheduled time, I was sitting in front of a computer starting on the tutorial.
Everyone signed in on a single sheet of paper with a row for each person and columns for name, arrival time, ID, etc. I filled in my name and arrival time; a staff person then filled in the numbers from my ID. Everyone who arrived after me could thus see all the information, until the page filled up and the staff started a new sheet of paper. I hope no one was dishonest and had a good short-term memory. If you're at all concerned about this, I suggest using forms of ID with a relatively low potential for fraud.
One paper I signed said the exam might be videotaped. I didn't see any cameras, but didn't look closely.
Cell phones and pagers are banned, as are all foods and drinks. I wasn't even allowed a sealed clear plastic bottle of spring water. Combined with an overheated room and a hard chair, it was a long, hot, dry, uncomfortable three hours.
The only reason I can think to prohibit drinks is to prevent accidental spills on the computers. In this case it would have been no great loss. The CRT was old, with a very visible and annoying flicker. The scroll wheel on the mouse didn't work, but fortunately wasn't needed. Performance was adequate, but for what we're paying I don't think a computer built sometime in this century is too much to ask.
There's an optional tutorial that can be run before the real exam. It shows how the exam works. However, it doesn't cover drag and drop, so I offer a few observations.
The software could be very picky about where an item could be dropped. Sometimes I needed to move the item around slightly. The cursor changes to indicate when dropping is allowed.
The dropped item obscures whatever it's dropped on. For fill-in-the-blank coding this is no problem, but there are also questions with multiple sub-questions, where the answer to each sub-question is to be dropped onto the sub-question. Once each sub-question is answered, it's no longer possible to see what the sub-question was. Only the answer is visible.
If you change your mind about a dropped item, you can drag it away.
There is no way to review a drag and drop question. Attempting to do so gives a dialog that says the question will be reset.
(That's all about drag and drop.)
Some questions refer to an exhibit, typically some code. A button at the bottom of the screen pops up the exhibit in a separate window. Fortunately, there was always enough room to position the pop-up window so that it and the question were both visible.
Scratch paper is not allowed. I was given two erasable plastic boards and a felt-tip marker.
When the exam starts, the agreement legalese is displayed. This is when the timer starts counting down. If you plan to read what you're agreeing to, you can read it before the exam on Sun's web site, when the timer isn't running.
I finished my first pass with about 20 minutes left to re-check the questions I had marked for review.
It took three business days after the exam before I could register on the Sun Certification I7 site. The instructions in Sun's FAQ didn't quite work. What did was to browse Sun Certification I7 then click the First Time Users link.
Now I get a lapel pin. I'm just waiting for all the job offers to pour in.
The rest of this message is excerpts from the email Prometric sent after I scheduled the exam. I didn't see any of the lockers they mention, but I didn't ask.
What do I need to bring (and not bring) to my exam?
You will need to bring two (2) forms of identification to the testing site. One must be a current, government-issued photo ID, such as a valid passport or driver's license, with a photo that looks like you. Be sure the names on your ID are displayed the same way it is displayed on your exam record, and that both ID's have a current signature that look like yours. Examples of other pieces of ID are credit cards and check cashing cards.
* The test will not be delivered without the appropriate form of identification. Thomson Prometric Test Center Administrators have the right to refuse seating you for the exam if they are unable to properly identify you.
What not to bring:
* Do not bring notes, pens, pencils, paper, large purses, or backpacks to the test center. Supplies needed for taking the exam will be provided by the test center.
* No cell phones or pagers are allowed in the test room. There are small lockers (12" H x 12" W x 12-18" D) available for candidates to store keys and small purses during the exam.
* There is no secure storage available for large books, bags, or large coats. Thomson Prometric cannot accept responsibility for loss or theft of items left in common use areas such as the waiting rooms.
When do I need to arrive for my exam?
* You should arrive at the testing center at least 30 minutes before the test is scheduled to begin. Tests are given by appointment. On days with no appointments scheduled a center may not be opened. If you have an appointment you can expect the center to open at least 30 minutes before your appointment.
* It takes about 3 - 5 minutes per candidate to complete the sign-in process. If you are the 10th person to arrive, it will take us about 30 minutes to start signing you in. If there are questions about your ID, your registration, any of the pretest qualifications, or if you are late, you will be asked to wait until other candidates are signed in. Don't worry! Each test is individually timed; your test will not start until you are signed in and seated.
* Once you have notified the center staff that you are here and ready to test, you can relax and watch the process. We do this all the time, and look forward to our time with you once your turn comes.
* Please note that the exam duration may include an exam tutorial and client survey.