I'm starting to study for the SCJP. I am studying with Head First Java, and I have the Sierra/Bates SCJP study guide. I am reading from the start of Head First Java and working towards the end, doing the exercises as I go along. I am trying not to skip any exercises. This method is really slow. My question about using the texts is: do you read the book and do the exercises as you go along, or do you read the book first then go back and do the questions? I'm thinking maybe it would be faster to read the book first. The book is really thick, and it's hard to always have it open whle you are programming the exercises, does the really thick book seem awkward for you guys?
I think it depends on person, you should go with what works best for you. Personally, if I remember it correctly, I think some of the coding project examples from head first java wasn't really focused enough or user friendly enough for me to really type everything out. You have to be the judge though. The important thing is try to understand as much as you can on each section, make sure you are following as closely as possible. Of course certain topics are more important than others, so hopefully you can understand and know how to use the important topics.
As to practice coding projects, there may be some other sources/sites where you can get better coding examples for each section/topic than the ones from the book. You may have to spend sometimes to find those examples though. Good luck.