This week's book giveaway is in the Mac OS forum. We're giving away four copies of a choice of "Take Control of Upgrading to Yosemite" or "Take Control of Automating Your Mac" and have Joe Kissell on-line! See this thread for details.
Initially take one of the mock exams available online WITHOUT any preparation. Just sit down and write it. Then assess your score and your weak areas. See where you're falling short. Then estimate the effort that will be needed to strengthen these areas. If you've already been working (as in a college or are you a programmer?) with 1.4 for six months you should be in a fairly decent shape but might trip up on the ticky questions, of which there are plenty. Do NOT set a November date without first assessing where you stand. That's impractical. See where you are, think about how long it'll take you to get into shape for the exam, and then add an at least 15% overhead and estimate when you'll be ready and set that as your date. Good luck!
It all depends on your comfort with Java SE 5.0 (and J2SE 1.4 for that matter - you could always take the 1.4 SCJP).
My feeling is initially, the best thing to do is to get some practice down with 5.0 and actually write some code with it. You'll learn what the language features can and can't do, and it'll give you more insight for when it's time to sit for the exam.
Material-wise, personally, I mostly used the Programmer's Notebook from O'Reilly to get myself up to speed with the features I used less frequently that had been brought in with 5.0. I did glance in K&B (I do think it's a good and useful book), but I felt a quick-and-dirty summary was more what I needed, given that I felt more comfortable with the language.
Theodore Jonathan Casser
SCJP/SCSNI/SCBCD/SCWCD/SCDJWS/SCMAD/SCEA/MCTS/MCPD... and so many more letters than you can shake a stick at!
I was planning to take SCJP for 1.4 a year ago, but I decided to save my money and strengthen my 1.5 skill instead. I think Java 1.6 will be rolling out soon, so 1.4 is near ending of its life cycle. Why get certified on an old technology, when you have a choice of getting certified on the most current one.