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Initially, passed only 25-45% of the self tests

Robert Gorn

Joined: Jan 10, 2007
Posts: 15

I have about 3/4 year of Java experience (3 years ago), but about 10 years with other technologies, mostly related to Microsoft. I've never studied IT related stuff but learned it all myself.

Initially, I did John Meyer's test at the Inquisition mock exams. - The result was 23%.

Now I'm reading the book "SCJP" by Sierra/Bates (about 60 pages/day). After each chapter, I'm passing 25-45% of the self test questions, only. This is quite frustrating.

I feel most questions are really mean - even if you've understood the concepts, they're trying to mislead you.

My strategy is to read the whole book (as several questions in earlier chapters appear to rely on knowledge from later chapters), and next, to review the failed questions in detail.
Next, I would practice other mock exams.
Failed questions I would pin down as commented Java files within a Eclipse Java project.

I would like to complete this exam within three weeks overall, having about 4 days for corrections after having read the complete book, initially.

- Is it normal to initially pass 25-45% of the questions, only?
What would you estimate?

Deepak Bala

Joined: Feb 24, 2006
Posts: 6662

Hi there,

Nope, you need more than 25% to make it on the real exam. You are right in that some of the questions are indeed mean I would estimate that you need about 60% atleast (a rough figure) on the kathy and bert mock exams.

The SCJP, like other introductory exams on any given subject concentrates on low level gritty details. If you can overcome that then this exam will be a breeze. Find a pattern through which you analyze your questions. Back when i finished this exam I went through the syntax then the class layout, member variables, access modifiers, static / non static context and other basic concepts before I dug into the objective of a question (say the objective of the question was to test the candidate on threads).

That way you will ensure that the question does not trick you. It will also save you tons of time. When a non static variable is accessed in main() i just mark the answer as compile time error and ignore the rest of the question.

Thanks for trying out the inquisition mock exam. Good luck

SCJP 6 articles - SCJP 5/6 mock exams - More SCJP Mocks
Bert Bates

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8829
Hi Robert,

Well, our goal was to make the questions a little more "mean" than on the real exam. They're not mean for the sake of meanness, it's to get you well prepared.

I think 3 weeks might be too little time, but it's possible you could get ready in that amount of time. I think that the master exams that come on the CD and online will be a good gauge for you to see if you're ready.

Also, we recommend that you NOT study using an IDE. The exam was entirely created and tested from the command line, and a lot of the questions test your knowledge of stuff that you'll see directly if you work from the command line that might be hidden if you use an IDE.

Good luck!


Spot false dilemmas now, ask me how!
(If you're not on the edge, you're taking up too much room.)
Robert Gorn

Joined: Jan 10, 2007
Posts: 15
Hey cool, John Meyers! And thank you for your reply.
Find a pattern through which you analyze your questions.

Sure, who wouldn't do that?

- But, in (only) the first three chapters of the aforementioned book, you can easily find about 300 patterns to learn.

Fortunately, (not all but) the very most of them are summarized at the end of any chapter.

Unfortunately, there are so many questions that aren't covered yet, i.e.,

When will initializers be executed - when any class instance gets created, when the first class instance of its type gets created, or when the JVM starts? - I wouldn't be able to answer this until now.

Or, overloaded methods with var-arg arguments will be chosen at last. (OK, I had that now in chapter 3.)

Or, when calling a method, an argument passed may be "widened, then boxed" but not "boxed, then widened". There have been two examples for that, but I can't really see why "int --> long --> Long" wouldn't work.

Or, there has been a question to count objects being eligible for the garbage collector. Although, probably, I do understand the issue perfectly, they put the question in a way, that I had to miss one of the nine objects in question.


Anyways, my actual question is, - anyone out there who started with 25-45%, and reached 70% or more, finally?

Robert Gorn

Joined: Jan 10, 2007
Posts: 15
Thank you Bert,

I'm amazed of talking to the guy whose book I'm studying, currently.

So these are your - partly ironical - notes that often open up the theoretic texts. - Well done!

Although - as mentioned above - some of the self test questions might require knowledge which is taught some book chapters later.

- Obviously I've been using IDEs all the time. I.e., I've had never invested too much thoughts on compiler errors - as they've had always been cleanly resolvable.

Well, getting this done in three weeks would be my ambition (and is still a goal of mine), but I'd be still happy to pass this within four or five weeks.

Thanks for your estimation
and best regards to both of you
Ken Truitt
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 23, 2007
Posts: 124
I scored from 35% to 50% on the first pass. I've read the book 3 or 4 times now, and I'm scoring 50% 100% (maybe I should throw that one 50%
out of the sample).

A couple of things to keep in mind:

1)the frequent "(choose all that apply)" component of the chapter-end
tests will not appear in the real exam--they tell you exactly how many
correct answers there will be. So the real exam is easier in that respect.

2)the chapter-end questions often involve several tricky concepts at a time, only one of which concerns the subject you studied for that chapter--but this will be the case for the real exam too.

3)It's an 800 page book, and EVERY concept that appears in those pages is
fair game for a question, even if it's not terribly relevant.

4)These tests are more about memorization than good on-your-feet intelligence. You need to know the concepts well so that you're not
trying to figure them out from the question or remember them by studying
clues from the question. You need to come to the questions knowing
all the concepts you're supposed to know. The question will be difficult
in its own right, even if you do have the core concepts memorized.

Having said all this, I would say 3 weeks is a bit ambitious. This is a
really hard test covering alot of material.

Good luck!

SCJP 88% | SCWCD 84%
Robert Gorn

Joined: Jan 10, 2007
Posts: 15

(Although I'm probably spoiling my thread - remember, my core question would be:
Anyone started by 25-45%, and reached 75-80%? - How did you do?)

I think that the master exams that come on the CD and online

here I might be allowed to criticize the CD that comes with your book, seriously:

The CD is Windows-only (is Java Windows-only, too? ) . - Thanks to Wine, there's no problem with installing and executing the additional exam program under Linux(!).
But next, there's no syntax highlighting, no rich text, no drag & drop, no resizable (i.e., maximizable) windows (they are fixed size, hope that fits, no it doesn't ...(!)), and no continuing of previous exams.
Additional problems with this program do exist as well, and it might need a major rework regarding the programming basis.

- I would really like to see your book and the Inquisition program combined.

Thanks, though, very much
[ October 11, 2008: Message edited by: Robert Gorn ]
Ankit Garg

Joined: Aug 03, 2008
Posts: 9304

Originally posted by Robert Gorn:

- I would really like to see your book and the Inquisition program combined.

That's Well said...I also feel that the Master Exam must have Drag and Drop questions at least(if not all the things that you said)...

Ken said that he is scoring 100% on the self tests after 4 passes. That's not a big deal. I think reading same questions more than twice is a waste. I read the book only once and then read only the exam watches and two minute drills the second time. On the first pass, I marked the question that I got wrong from the self test, and in the second pass I used to feel that I was a fool that I got those ones wrong.

Actually its just a matter of knowing the potential pitfalls that you might get into while reading a question. Once you know most of the traps and pitfalls, then it becomes easier. So instead of going for the same questions over and over again, you must go for new questions, that will tell you new pitfalls and traps.

That said, this is just what I feel, someone might not agree with me here...

SCJP 6 | SCWCD 5 | Javaranch SCJP FAQ | SCWCD Links
Efesa Origbo

Joined: Oct 02, 2008
Posts: 15
Hey Andrew,
For what its worth, i think we are in the same boat. My philosophy for preparing for the exam is simple "SUCCESS LIES ON THE FAR SIDE OF FAILURE".
What this means is that you try to go through all the questions on the K & B book as well as the learn key exam, and "fail" as many questions as you can in the process. The logic is, once you've failed the question type, you'll easily spot it in the real exam, and smash it!

hope this helps.
Bert Bates

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8829
Hi Guys,

I agree that the book's test engine isn't very good - we've been talking about this with the publisher for years and we haven't made any progress. If anyone wants to write one as a fun project that would be cool

Anyway, I should warn you that the "real" test engine that you encounter at the Prometric center is better than the one in the book, but it still sucks! The issue is that Sun needs to administer the test fairly across the entire planet so the engine must run on the weakest hardware that might exist anywhere. So window resizing limitations, excessive scrolling, and the infamous drag and drop bug are to be expected when you get to the test center.


I agree. Here's the link:
subject: Initially, passed only 25-45% of the self tests