After weeks of procrastination and doing poorly on numerous mock exams, I took the plunge and sat for the SCJP 6 today, and passed with a 78. All the mock exams I took (Sierra & Bates, Mughal & Rasmussen, ExamLab, Java Inquisition) ended up being much harder than the exam itself, and that was a good thing, because they "toughened" me up for the real thing. I'm glad it's over!
For the record, there were 60 questions at my test center and a three hour allowance. My examiner permitted bathroom breaks that were not counted in the three hours. And I think I am within my non-disclosure agreement to say that there were two questions that dealt explicitly with serialization, which some other Ranchers have been asking about in the last few days. In general, the questions ran the gamut of topics in the Sierra & Bates book.
To prepare, I read through Sierra & Bates three times and Mughal and Rasmussen once, in addition to taking the ExamLab and Java Inquisition mock exams. I also wrote a number of programs to put theory to practice.
One other resource that I used, which I don't think I've seen mention of here at Javaranch, is Flash Card Exchange. In particular, I used the public flash-card sets from user dgspurgin. He/she created 10 sets, one corresponding to each chapter in Sierra & Bates, and I found them to be very helpful in my preparation for the SCJP. In addition, I used Flash Card Exchange to create my own private flash cards to aid in my study. It's a great tool, and it's free (unless you want to access some advanced features or just feel like supporting its developers, which is not a bad idea!).
Finally I got answers and amusement from numerous posters here at Javaranch, and I appreciate your contributions.
Shaily Gupta: Which materials and how long to prepare are very subjective matters. I spent months preparing, but I think I took so long because I have no practical background in Java or other object oriented languages. I'm steeped in C, COBOL, and Pascal, so it took a while for the concepts to sink in. I think the Sierra and Bates book was my best resource, but I liked Mughal and Rasmussen too, and the other resources I mentioned.
But anyway it turned out that the exam wasn't anywhere near as difficult as all the practice exams. The scariest part is spending all that money on the exam knowing that it will be wasted if you don't pass. Getting past that was an immense relief for me.