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Do mock exams cover EVERYTHING

rich tana
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Joined: Aug 25, 2008
Posts: 31
HI there
I have read and studied this Kathy & Bert v6 book until my brain literally started to swell. I am now focusing more on the popular mock exams like Devaka and the K&B. This question is for those that have taken the actual SJCP v6 exam. Do all the questions literally cover *ALL* scenarios on the real exam? I am kind of worried I might not have covered everything as I now focus on the mock exams. I also don't want to be guesssing on the exam in case the mocks mights have missed something. I know there are random questions on the real one, but I just don't want to over study where I cannot retain it all. Also, as a real human, my brain can only hold so much.
If you have any further study tips in trying to remember all this stuff, that would be helpful to. I am also writing code as well.
Also, thanks for letting me post my frequent questions here and getting awesome answers!!
Marcel Wentink
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Joined: Sep 19, 2008
Posts: 157
Do all the questions literally cover *ALL* scenarios on the real exam?


I am bit confused what you expect. Well I think no not *ALL* scenarios are ever coverd. I think that is impossible. If that was the case you won't have to think on the exam, and just reproduce the scenarios you memorized from other questions. You have to understand the theory and conclude what the answer would be on a type of question you have never seen before. But that's why you're an engineer aren't you?

rich tana
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Joined: Aug 25, 2008
Posts: 31
Hi Marcel
What I meant was, when most people study for a university level exam out of a course text book, it is quite common that all test questions cover a lot of the scenarios in the target course exam or at least cover all questions in the course exam. Most university exams are designed this way. In this case, SJCP is a vendor supplied exam but I am wondering if the Kathy & Bert (or any other mock exams) really cover a lot of the questions in the REAL exam. Has anyone seen gotcha kind of questions in the real exam they never knew about? I am hoping the mock exams prevent this type of scenario. Thanks. I am just wondering if this makes sense.
Ruben Soto
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Joined: Dec 16, 2008
Posts: 1032
rich tana wrote:Hi Marcel
What I meant was, when most people study for a university level exam out of a course text book, it is quite common that all test questions cover a lot of the scenarios in the target course exam or at least cover all questions in the course exam. Most university exams are designed this way. In this case, SJCP is a vendor supplied exam but I am wondering if the Kathy & Bert (or any other mock exams) really cover a lot of the questions in the REAL exam. Has anyone seen gotcha kind of questions in the real exam they never knew about? I am hoping the mock exams prevent this type of scenario. Thanks. I am just wondering if this makes sense.

Rich,

I think what the mocks do is help you understand the underlying concepts. Once you know the underlying concepts, then you can answer a very wide range of questions. You can't expect all specific questions to be covered, since there is an infinite variation of them. You need to focus on the exam's objectives and the underlying concepts. The only place where you really will need to use your memory is in the API, and in that case the only way to cover everything is to cover all the classes that are specified in the objectives on their own. That takes a lot of time, by the way.


All code in my posts, unless a source is explicitly mentioned, is my own.
rich tana
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Joined: Aug 25, 2008
Posts: 31
Thanks Ruben. I got the concepts down but I just really need to focus on the class methods as explained in the K&B book. I should be ok? I just want to satsify my paranoid way of thinking.
sebastian tortschanoff
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Joined: Mar 19, 2009
Posts: 68
Well, by all means, you've satified mine :-)
Actually i'm on site 580 in K&B. This took me almost 16 days maybe 17 (including all questions), and i'm tired...

...must...get...to........the........end.................soon


Power from within.

Failed SCJP 2 times :-(
Marcel Wentink
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Joined: Sep 19, 2008
Posts: 157
rich tana wrote:Most university exams are designed this way.


Not where I come from Rich! Sorry. Now I am even more confused. Or surprised really. Over here at Dutch university level you have to be able to understand the theory behind the stuff taught, and be able to answer questions totally never seen before. This is what the high level is all about. Being tested to be that creative that you can answer any question about the things you learned, without having seen that type of question before.

And I think SCJP comes close to that level, although it's lower still. Also, I do not what to insult you or your country, but that you state the above, does not really make me have confident in the level of the university exams in the place you went to college. Euh, sorry for that. But really, just reproducing question types already seen before is not scientific (and hence university) level questioning to me. Scientific is creative deduction, is being able to see things nobody showed you before.
rich tana
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Joined: Aug 25, 2008
Posts: 31
No worries. I think trying to explain myself electronically is really hard. Don't worry about it? Thanks for attempting anyhow.
Ruben Soto
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Joined: Dec 16, 2008
Posts: 1032
Marcel Wentink wrote:
rich tana wrote:Most university exams are designed this way.


Not where I come from Rich! Sorry. Now I am even more confused. Or surprised really. Over here at Dutch university level you have to be able to understand the theory behind the stuff taught, and be able to answer questions totally never seen before. This is what the high level is all about. Being tested to be that creative that you can answer any question about the things you learned, without having seen that type of question before.

And I think SCJP comes close to that level, although it's lower still. Also, I do not what to insult you or your country, but that you state the above, does not really make me have confident in the level of the university exams in the place you went to college. Euh, sorry for that. But really, just reproducing question types already seen before is not scientific (and hence university) level questioning to me. Scientific is creative deduction, is being able to see things nobody showed you before.

You are right, Marcel. But there is a fundamental difference between this (Computer Science) and something like Mathematics (one of my majors.) There is a degree of arbitrariness in some aspects of Computer Science that are not found in Mathematics. For example, if you need to know how the API works, you can't just understand the underlying principles (although it helps.) Some things are a little arbitrary, and the only way to know how they work is by memory. That is quite unfortunate, but it's part of what Computer Science is. Whereas with Mathematics, if you know a set of theorems and what notation to use, if someone asks you to prove something you can use your logical deduction and your imagination to come up with a completely original proof. That is also a big part of Computer Science, but I think any programming language has many more arbitrary components than Math can ever have, because a programming language is a human invention, whereas Math is a discovery of something that is the way it is and couldn't be any other way. (I hope you understand what I mean by this.)
rich tana
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Joined: Aug 25, 2008
Posts: 31
Well my Polytech school here in Canada at Ryerson likes to test for real world scenarios, not to see if we are walking compilers. It seems this is the biggest complaint of these SJCP exams in which some employers don't value them. EIther way, I understand the logic of the level of trickiness to these questions. I just think some of them are way over the top. I would never see this in other languages unless some developer likes to be abusive in their coding styles. If that is the case, maybe they should work for NASA instead of some bank let's say.
Ruben Soto
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Joined: Dec 16, 2008
Posts: 1032
rich tana wrote:Well my Polytech school here in Canada at Ryerson likes to test for real world scenarios, not to see if we are walking compilers. It seems this is the biggest complaint of these SJCP exams in which some employers don't value them. EIther way, I understand the logic of the level of trickiness to these questions. I just think some of them are way over the top. I would never see this in other languages unless some developer likes to be abusive in their coding styles. If that is the case, maybe they should work for NASA instead of some bank let's say.

You would be surprised. I worked for a very well known company, and in my department we used Python. If you look at framework Python code with heavy use of metaprogramming, then nothing will scare you after that.
rich tana
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Joined: Aug 25, 2008
Posts: 31
I hear you Ruben. It seems that this is the biggest gripe against Java. It seems I love the complexity of it but there also seem to be many ex-Java programmers going into something like Ruby on Rails.

Anyhow, never mind that. I am trying to figure out realistically if there are any of these of 'over the top' kind of questions in the real exam. I am referring to the level of trickiness and gotchas in the K&B test questions. I know some say the real exam is easier, but how much easier. Are the REAL questions more direct and have fewer snags? The verbage in the book has elevated my state of Paranoia meaning I may be over studying way to much. I am not even sure if I am wasting too much time on it One of my other fellow programmers dumped the K&B book because of it. I mean we are not college kids here, we are developers with 20+ years experience. I am trying to figure which mock exams reflect the true difficulty on the exam.

Ruben Soto
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Joined: Dec 16, 2008
Posts: 1032
For the record, I wouldn't say Java is more/less difficult than Python. The difficulty in any program comes from the focus and style that you use. Metaprogramming and framework programming in general I think are more complicated than application programming, but even this might be a gross oversimplification.
Juee Doo
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Joined: Sep 26, 2008
Posts: 232
congrats!
Santiago Bravo
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Joined: Jul 25, 2008
Posts: 226
I would not say *everything* but they do cover the core areas. The most important thing is that you generally score well on the mocks and if you are getting questions wrong you learn from them.


Santiago
My Path to SCJP Certification My Path to SCWCD Certification
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8803
    
    5
Hi Rich and other candidates,

I'd like to speak to "trickiness and gotcha's"

Each Sun Java certification exam is created by a team of about a dozen experienced Java developers. Most of the members of the team have extensive experience teaching Java and mentoring new Java developers. The folks on the exam team have a LOT of experience watching people struggling with Java, and one of the goals of the team is to make sure that SCJPs can handle the common Java topics that tend to cause confusion amongst beginners. Of course, no exam is perfect, but that's the orientation of the exam. In a nutshell, questions that might seem "tricky" are almost always spawned from real world experience.

I suppose you could argue that Java itself has "gotcha's", but in that case I'd have to argue that an SCJP ought to be able to handle them.

Additionally (while I'm on my soapbox ), all of the questions on the real exam, AND all of the questions from the book were developed without the use of an IDE. It is the consistently and strongly held opinion of everyone on the exam creation teams, that you should use an IDE only after you've really mastered the fundamentals.

While I'm at it, let's talk about API memorization for a minute

In any complex endeavor there will be a certain amount of memorization required. You can't be a writer if you haven't "memorized" the alphabet or "memorized" how spell most basic words. We really struggle with how much memorization should be a part of these exams, and I think that we've moved in good directions over the last several years. That said, the exam creation team considered every objective very carefully, and concluded that there are certain parts of the API that are just good to know. I will say that when we create API-related questions we try to stick with the most useful and commonly used methods within the classes we're addressing. We ask questions like: "Do you know how to instantiate this class?", "Do you know how to put things into this collection, or find things in this collection, or take things out of this collection?". Additionally, no matter what aspect of Java you eventually end up in, you WILL need to be able to use the API effectively, and so forcing you to learn a few fundamental classes also teaches you how to use the API in general. (For instance, does a "factory" make sense to you?).

I guess the bottom line for all of this is that Sun wants the title "SCJP" to really mean something. The folks on the exam creation team want to feel like an SCJP can go into a job interview and really hold their own.

hth,

Bert


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sebastian tortschanoff
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Joined: Mar 19, 2009
Posts: 68
Halleluja!

This was my thought, when i first started with the book. There will be no time to guess - only to know - in the exam.
rich tana
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 25, 2008
Posts: 31
Hail to the Almighty Bert and all,
This helps a lot. My only concern is when are you are over studying for the SJCP? I feel i know the basics pretty good including the majority of the API. The problem now lies in when my confidence gets shots from the K&B book questions. I flunk most of them due to simply forgetting one of 'gotchas'. The other problem I have is the level of difficulty on the real exam versus the mock questions or books questions. As said, at what point can you say you are over studying? I sometimes feel like a cat chasing my tail.
Thanks for the help either way
 
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