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Are questions in real exam intentionally misleading too?

Tapio Niemela
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 06, 2006
Posts: 77
Hey, are the questions on the real exam (1.6) also intentionally misleading? I spotted on KB book on page 167 question about constructors:



What is the result?
A. subsub
B. sub subsub
C. alpha subsub
D. alpha sub subsub
E. Compilation fails
F. An exception is thrown at runtime

If one reads this type of code/question/answers as a human being he will most likely fail in answering. Instead one has to turn into computer/compiler and then he can see that SubSubAlpha isn't extending the "middle class". I say middle because it was intentionally but between Alpha and SubSubAlpha. This sort of questions are totally against how human mind works. Humans are in a sense much clever than the computers. Computers do what is told to. Humans use their intuition and automatically ignore "unimportant" things. Yes, one can agree that the thing that SubSubAlpha extends Alpha is indeed important. But how do you spot that? You are already automatically ignoring unimportant things, how do you "know" that THIS one is important? Also I'm quite sure that most of us agree that this piece of code is very bad quality and unintuitive. Also it's missing (like whole SCJP) link to the real life. It's much easier to understand code that has some "meaning" in the real world, isn't this part of meaning of OOP?

If the exam really intentionally misleads developers I think I have wasted enough time with it, and I'll have to continue studying something really meaningful (there's tons of books of OOP principles, design patterns, DIP etc) instead of trying to turn into robot (that fight humans will eventually lose)
Jeevan Reddy
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 10, 2009
Posts: 142
You write what I think, sometimes. It is annoying. It is as if they are deliberately trying to cut the points instead of testing us on Java concepts.

But here, we just pass the exams and move on.


SCJP 1.6 (94%)
http://faq.javaranch.com/java/JspFaq
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8815
    
    5
Hey Tapio,

I understand that some of these questions seem misleading. The background is that Sun is working under constraints:

- provide a fair test, worldwide
- provide it for a reasonable fee
- work within the confines of a couple of hours
- work with tools and test engines that must support 'lowest common denominator' hardware (again worldwide)

One of the fall outs of the above, is that the exam creators are constrained, usually, to cramming a lot of code into about 12 lines. This is because of the exam delivery environment. So, the question writers have to test for some fairly tricky concepts, and do it in just a few lines of code.

So the bottom line is, since you're working towards a certification with worldwide value, for not a lot of money, you're gonna have to get used to looking very carefully at 12 lines of code. Come to think of it, sometimes in the real world you'll be forced to look at code you didn't write...

hth,

Bert

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

Joined: Jan 06, 2006
Posts: 77
Bert Bates wrote:Hey Tapio,

I understand that some of these questions seem misleading. The background is that Sun is working under constraints:

- provide a fair test, worldwide
- provide it for a reasonable fee
- work within the confines of a couple of hours
- work with tools and test engines that must support 'lowest common denominator' hardware (again worldwide)

One of the fall outs of the above, is that the exam creators are constrained, usually, to cramming a lot of code into about 12 lines. This is because of the exam delivery environment. So, the question writers have to test for some fairly tricky concepts, and do it in just a few lines of code.

So the bottom line is, since you're working towards a certification with worldwide value, for not a lot of money, you're gonna have to get used to looking very carefully at 12 lines of code. Come to think of it, sometimes in the real world you'll be forced to look at code you didn't write...

hth,

Bert


Hey Bert, thanks for your reply,

I understand that due to exam constraints questions needs to be kept short, so they can't have real-life aspect. But I still can't understand why they have to be misleading. Would it be bad if the exam was testing more about java knowledge, instead of testing how one spots hiding, nonintuitive pitfalls? (Personally, I find these pitfalls very annoying as you might notice ) So, for example, this SubSubAlpha-thing should be testing "is it possible to call private constructor in super" instead of "can-you-still-see-when-you-were-misleaded". This way we might get higher percentage of qualified exam takers. Or if that's not desirable the percent of correct answers to pass could be raised..

Also, shouldn't certifications mean that cerfified person is actually capable of doing the certified thing? What I've heard and read is that some people just read/practise FOR the exam, they practise every possible pitfall ("like parrots") maybe really not understanding the concepts. Or then there's even cheat exams available. After the exam they don't know how to apply their "skills".

Yes, I have to *sometimes* (usually 4-5 days per week) look for code I didn't write. Even the lowest quality I've seen aren't as misleading as some questions in the test exams. Also as I mentioned, those code has some real-world value within, so those are more easy to understand than Foo foo=new Foo(bar); examples..
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8815
    
    5
Hey Tapio,

Just FYI, this kind of discussion has come up before, and you can search for older versions of discussions - they will undoubtedly be more complete than this thread. That said, there are a few things I've heard a lot from SCJP candidates and SCJPs...

- studying for the exam makes your understanding of the fundamentals stronger.
- cheaters exist, but they still have to, eventually, write code on the job
- studying for the exam helps clue you in to not just 'a way' to do a task, but to 'the way Sun intended' for you to do a task

So, the exam questions themselves often don't follow best practices, but if you study with the attitude that the objectives are there for a reason, you'll find the questions won't be that 'tricky' or misleading.
 
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