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Failed Core Spring Certification

Dan Fernandez
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 03, 2010
Posts: 12
Hey I often see posts from people saying how difficult they found the Core Spring certification (Ref: ) only to follow up this comment by declaring that their grade was 96%.

I don't know about you, but that really irritates me . Anyway, this post is not about me ranting (well okay, it is just a little bit). It is about my experience which was quite different from Gregory Asimov (name is fictional to protect the near perfect) and his 96% pass rate. Hopefully my experience can help you prepare a little more thoroughly than I, and get you the pass.

My Grade
I sat the exam recently and failed with 68% (you need 75% to pass which meant I was 4 answers short).

My preparation was like this. I applied as a grandfathered candidate because I did not want to fork out the big cash for the four day course (Ref: ). I am a contractor and this also means loss of earnings. Now I know what you are thinking - he doesn't do the course because he is a money grabbing contractor who wants it all his own way, so he deserves what he gets. But read on my friends, there is method in my apparent madness.

So I read the Manning Spring in Action book cover to cover, did the example Spring MVC from the spring site and also covered the Spring 2.5.6 reference documentation. I have also been using Spring commercially for 5 years - although in quite a restricted way - not really using many of the sub-projects. I did look at the Spring sample questions (Ref: ) but these are really of restricted usefulness.

What was in the exam then? Tell us!
Although I am not allowed to comment on the specific questions I can comment on the topics. One of the frustrations that I and many others have, is that there is just no real decent way to simulate this exam from a trusted source like you would with a Sun certification. So you are quite in the dark when it comes to an effective preparation on what is a massive topic. So hopefully the following information might be useful to you.

I can say that the biggest category of questions were on the "container and test".
Full categories included, with the approximate number of questions on each topic in brackets, were:
  • Container and test (19)
  • AOP (6)
  • MVC (3)
  • Web / views (3)
  • JMX (3)
  • JMS (3)
  • JDBC (3)
  • Transactions (3)
  • Remoting (3)
  • Web Services(3)

  • The Manning book does not cover the latter category very well (earlier Spring version).


    The observant among you will notice that this number does not add up to 50 - I am doing it from memory so it is not a literal value but it is roughly representative of the categories and proportions of questions. Also, please bear in mind that due to the random nature of the software you will likely have a different mix not just of specific questions, but number of questions in different categories.

    To prepare for the exam I had to fail the exam
    To be honest I actually had a suspsicion that unlike my many other certs (where I passed first time), it might be necessary to do the exam, fail it and then know what the hell the exam is about to be ready for the second stab. And it was only ~£100 - which still leaves me quids-in over doing the 4 day course. So this is why, my Spring-loving friends, I am not in a state of devastation as Gregory Asimov would have been by incorrectly answering 2 questions. Still, we really should be able to do better than this, shouldn't we?

    Always look on the bright side of life
    In fact failing the exam has been an excellent step at helping me understand what I need to do next.

    I felt good about the container and test questions although the annotation based questions were more than I expected. However, with AOP and Web services I was dumbfounded. JMX and JMS I was a bit unsure on and dropped marks. The rest I felt competent on but undoubtedly not perfect.

    On the whole I really needed to focus on the Spring 2.5.6 reference documentation more intensely than the Manning book - which was my primary focus. I really did not prepare with AOP and in particular the several AspectJ pointcut expression questions - which I neglected to study (could have been another 2 or 3 marks). I also realised that the Manning book coverage of the web services should not be relied on. So I could pick up another 2 marks there - look I have already passed!

    So, in summary the Manning book, although an excellently written and valuable tool for preparation, should really be used as a precursor to getting down to the nitty gritty in the Spring 2.5.6 reference (Ref: ). The very wide nature of this topic makes it impossible to cover all of the bases in detail in the book. Please do not take any of my comments as criticism of this book - in fact I love this book and it is on my desk permanently as an ongoing reference in my workplace. I just think the detail needs to picked up from the Spring guys directly and in my case I need to study more: AOP, Web services, JMX and JMS.

    In preparation for my resit I am also contributing questions to . Others have recommended this as another source of useful information for preparing for the exam.

    I have a statutory 30 day wait before my next attempt. So I will update you on the results then. If I fail again I am not going to bother resitting. But let's not think like that. I WILL PASS.

    DF
    deepak adlakha
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jul 27, 2001
    Posts: 325
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    I am sure you will give your best in next attempt !!!
    Mark Spritzler
    ranger
    Sheriff

    Joined: Feb 05, 2001
    Posts: 17250
        
        6

    Dan,

    Thank you so very much. I really think we should put the post somewhere,like a sticky so everyone can see it.

    I teach the Core Spring class for SpringSource and myself have never seen the exam, so find it difficult to answer questions on what is on the exam.

    I have told people that the current version of "Spring in Action" is too dated. It mostly covers Spring from the perspective of Spring 2.0 and so much has changed from then.

    Mark


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    Dan Fernandez
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Jun 03, 2010
    Posts: 12
    deepak adlakha wrote:Thanks for sharing your experience.

    I am sure you will give your best in next attempt !!!


    Thanks Deepak - I certainly will. I have already got my head around the pointcut expressions - so I am on the right path.

    DF
    Dan Fernandez
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Jun 03, 2010
    Posts: 12
    Mark Spritzler wrote:Dan,

    Thank you so very much. I really think we should put the post somewhere,like a sticky so everyone can see it.

    I teach the Core Spring class for SpringSource and myself have never seen the exam, so find it difficult to answer questions on what is on the exam.

    I have told people that the current version of "Spring in Action" is too dated. It mostly covers Spring from the perspective of Spring 2.0 and so much has changed from then.

    Mark


    Thanks for your response Mark.

    Various blogs all over the web (including JavaRanch) have pointed to this Manning book as a vital reference so I tended to react to the online consensus. It was my mistake though to not spend more time on the official reference.

    I think the main point I have tried to make in my post is that I felt like I was operating in the dark in preparation for this exam. The springsource site has a recommended study list here http://www.springsource.com/files/uploads/all/pdf_files/page/cert_study_topics2.pdf but this is just a 3 page bulleted list. It is often possible to purchase exam simulations from either the technology provider, or 3rd parties. This is not the case with core Spring certification.

    So the other point of my post was to help publicise to focus on the up to date reference documentation. It might also make people consider the training provided by people such as yourself. But as pointed out this is less attractive to contractors such as myself.

    I also plan to do my bit by contributing to the http://www.blackbeltfactory.com/ui# Spring questions. I have already added some based on the reference documentation.
    Mark Secrist
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jul 01, 2003
    Posts: 89
    Thanks Dan for the great feedback. There is also another free spring test simulation at: http://www.skill-guru.com. I think they could benefit from any questions you could submit. I'll be taking my core certification soon so your expreience is very helpful to me.

    Mark
    Mark Spritzler
    ranger
    Sheriff

    Joined: Feb 05, 2001
    Posts: 17250
        
        6

    Yes the "sample" questions/study guide on Spring's website is a bunch of questions that one of the SpringSource instructors had created for "pop" quizes to ask the next morning to go over what we covered the day before, and they are open ended to open discussion, but they aren't at all the questions that are exactly on the exam.

    Mark
    Mark Spritzler
    ranger
    Sheriff

    Joined: Feb 05, 2001
    Posts: 17250
        
        6

    Looking at the blackbelt factory questions for Spring. They are too old and based too much on Spring 2.0 stuff. It should be rewritten instead of even just adding new questions. The old questions should be removed.

    Mark
    Dan Fernandez
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Jun 03, 2010
    Posts: 12
    Mark Spritzler wrote:Looking at the blackbelt factory questions for Spring. They are too old and based too much on Spring 2.0 stuff. It should be rewritten instead of even just adding new questions. The old questions should be removed.

    Mark


    Good tips - I will check out the other site and see if it is possible to get the Spring 2.0 ones removed.
    Dan Fernandez
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Jun 03, 2010
    Posts: 12
    Mark Secrist wrote:Thanks Dan for the great feedback. There is also another free spring test simulation at: http://www.skill-guru.com. I think they could benefit from any questions you could submit. I'll be taking my core certification soon so your expreience is very helpful to me.

    Mark


    Thanks Mark - you were right.

    This mock test is amazing and of a high standard - http://www.skill-guru.com/test/81/core-spring-certification-mock

    I recommend this to anyone else preparing for the exam.

    DF
    Mark Secrist
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jul 01, 2003
    Posts: 89
    I just got an email notice that they've added a couple of additional tests for Spring 3 at:
    http://skill-guru.com/test/81/core-spring-3.0-certification-mock and
    http://skill-guru.com/test/86/core-spring-3.0-certification-mock-test-2

    I haven't had a chance to try them yet.

    Mark
    Dan Fernandez
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Jun 03, 2010
    Posts: 12
    Mark Secrist wrote:I just got an email notice that they've added a couple of additional tests for Spring 3 at:
    http://skill-guru.com/test/81/core-spring-3.0-certification-mock and
    http://skill-guru.com/test/86/core-spring-3.0-certification-mock-test-2

    I haven't had a chance to try them yet.

    Mark


    Thanks Mark. I have tried these out and they are easily the best resources on the web for preparing for this exam. They are 50 questions each and really tough like the real thing. There is a small fee which is trivial really.

    Thanks again.

    Dan
    Mark Secrist
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jul 01, 2003
    Posts: 89
    Dan Fernandez wrote:
    ... I have tried these out and they are easily the best resources on the web for preparing for this exam. They are 50 questions each and really tough like the real thing. There is a small fee which is trivial really.


    Dan,
    That's great to hear from someone who's been through the real test once. Do you feel ready to take the test again?

    Mark
    Dan Fernandez
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Jun 03, 2010
    Posts: 12
    Mark Secrist wrote:
    Dan Fernandez wrote:
    ... I have tried these out and they are easily the best resources on the web for preparing for this exam. They are 50 questions each and really tough like the real thing. There is a small fee which is trivial really.


    Dan,
    That's great to hear from someone who's been through the real test once. Do you feel ready to take the test again?

    Mark


    Yes - it is booked in for later this month - fingers crossed.

    Daniel
    Mario Mayi
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Jul 06, 2010
    Posts: 1
    Dan, many thanks for the info.

    Just out of interest, I have been checking prices and schedules of Spring certification courses and you are right, they are not exactly cheap
    and off goes one week of your holidays.

    Does anybody know if it is worth taking that route?

    What the heck can you learn within those 4 days that you cannot learn on your own or are those courses geared towards giving you the info
    necessary to pass the exam which you would not normally discover on your own. From what I can gather, people spend a lot of time
    doing their own research, reading, experimenting, tutorials etc and that is sufficient for I would say 60% of the exam but where people do get
    caught is that additional 'I wasn't expecting that' extra so I am wandering if that is where the benefit of these courses really kicks in.


    Regards
    -Mario
    Dan Fernandez
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Jun 03, 2010
    Posts: 12
    Mario Mayi wrote:Dan, many thanks for the info.

    Just out of interest, I have been checking prices and schedules of Spring certification courses and you are right, they are not exactly cheap
    and off goes one week of your holidays.

    Does anybody know if it is worth taking that route?

    What the heck can you learn within those 4 days that you cannot learn on your own or are those courses geared towards giving you the info
    necessary to pass the exam which you would not normally discover on your own. From what I can gather, people spend a lot of time
    doing their own research, reading, experimenting, tutorials etc and that is sufficient for I would say 60% of the exam but where people do get
    caught is that additional 'I wasn't expecting that' extra so I am wandering if that is where the benefit of these courses really kicks in.


    Regards
    -Mario


    Mario,

    From the post that Mark gave above it appears that the Spring course is not specifically aimed at, or aware of, the exam as such. I guess it would be a great opportunity though if your budget or employer can pay for this. But if it is coming out of your own pocket I would consider self-training - even if you fail the exam once - you will still be quids in. And the skill-guru tests are still only $0.99 and seem to be spot on for catching the "extras" you might not expect.

    DF
    Kevin Florish
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jan 06, 2009
    Posts: 175
    Mario Mayi wrote:
    Just out of interest, I have been checking prices and schedules of Spring certification courses and you are right, they are not exactly cheap
    and off goes one week of your holidays.

    Does anybody know if it is worth taking that route?

    -Mario


    Hi Mario unless you can prove a track record with working with Spring you really have no alternative but to take the course if you want to do the certification.

    Having taken the course and passed the exam I can say from a personal viewpoint that the course didn't really help me pass the exam.

    It is a very well run course and comes with great software and documentation that you can take home from the course and use after to really get you up to speed in Spring. The actual exam itself is very similar to a lot of Sun certifications where you have to memorize a lot of information and ideas to pass it. These can be gained form various texts on the subject which are outlined by Dan at the start of this thread.


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    Pradeep bhatt
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Feb 27, 2002
    Posts: 8919

    Who is issuing the certificate ? Is it Spring Source ?


    Groovy
    Kevin Florish
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jan 06, 2009
    Posts: 175
    Pradeep bhatt wrote:Who is issuing the certificate ? Is it Spring Source ?


    After passing the exam you need to contact the Spring training department where you aquired the exam voucher from, relevant to your country.

    They send you a PDF certificate (you may need to email and contact them several times) that you can print off.
    sasank manohar
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Feb 14, 2008
    Posts: 186
    persistancy is the key to success, keep trying and all the best


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    Jeanne Boyarsky
    author & internet detective
    Marshal

    Joined: May 26, 2003
    Posts: 30586
        
    154

    Information moved to the SpringCertificationFaq wiki. Feel free to more info. The wiki also contains a link back to this thread.

    Unstickying the thread now per discussion with the forum leaders.


    [Blog] [JavaRanch FAQ] [How To Ask Questions The Smart Way] [Book Promos]
    Blogging on Certs: SCEA Part 1, Part 2 & 3, Core Spring 3, OCAJP, OCPJP beta, TOGAF part 1 and part 2
    Dan Fernandez
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Jun 03, 2010
    Posts: 12
    Hello again to all followers of this thread and any new visitors who are curious to hear about the Spring 3 certification exam.

    I am glad to report that I passed the v3.0 exam with 90% after 2 months of hitting the books after failing the v2.5 exam.

    I can report that the question topics were broadly proprotioned as before with container and AOP questions forming around half of the total questions.

    I can safely say that using the official reference manual and the 2 exams on the skill-guru site (listed above) were the key for turning this around.

    Good luck everyone!

    DF
    Jeanne Boyarsky
    author & internet detective
    Marshal

    Joined: May 26, 2003
    Posts: 30586
        
    154

    Dan,
    I posted more detail for the Spring 3.0 exam along with how it relates to the class. I started my own thread because I couldn't bring myself to put in a thread titled "Failed Core Spring Certification."
    dhecksel
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Feb 02, 1999
    Posts: 19
    The Spring In Action book has been revised for Version 3.0, including:

    MVC
    Messaging
    Remote Services
    Using annotations to reduce configuration
    Working with RESTful resources
    Spring Expression Language (SpEL)
    Security, Web Flow, and more

    - Dave


    http://davidhecksel.com
    Dan Fernandez
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Jun 03, 2010
    Posts: 12
    Hi all,

    I just found this site: SpringCertification.com and the UK version SpringCertification.co.uk which is looking to provide a useful central point for everyone's questions / resources to prepare and pass the Core Spring certification.
     
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    subject: Failed Core Spring Certification