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SCJP 6 passed... and few words of advice

K Mudof
Greenhorn

Joined: May 09, 2010
Posts: 13
SCJP 6 passed at close to 80%. Not too good, not too bad...

First of all thanks to Java Ranchers for sharing knowledge not only in Java problems, but in general programming context. So I would like to share my experience for those who will follow...

Little background. I have been doing Java programming years, years ago. Then had a quite different and exciting career, which after long years of fun I decided to wrap around and put on a hook. So here is a reason for my comeback to Java and SCJP. In short, I had to relearn Java basics almost from scratch. Hope this will put coming next points in some perspective.

I spend about 3 month, with few longer breaks due to heavy load of work, studding SCJP effectively 1-2 hours per day. Sometimes longer, sometimes not at all.

I started with K&B book as advised, which I read 2-3 times, tried to understand and remember concepts, details, tricks etc. I must say I have mixed feeling about this book. Its loose narrative style does not fit me that well. Particularity when some easy problem explanation is spread over few pages mixed with jokes and anecdotes. Whereas later some other important concepts are so condensed that literally every sentence matters. I would prefer less jokes, less pages and more focus problem explanation. So probably I spend too much time on this book alone. Some people might like it, I should move forward sooner.

After that I started to do random quizzes and mock up tests published on the internet, which soon I managed to clear 70-80% most of the time. Then I tried short quizzes from K&B book, not so good results here at that stage, only 20-30%. At the same time I tried Examlab and of course results were disastrous, around 15-20%.

So being only 4-5 weeks from the exam I decided to move toward more intense learning. I bought Ethnuware soft, which during practice I found to be quite a good product. Initially the very first few tests I was doing at 40-50%. Later, closer to the deadline I was on average 70%, sometimes closer to 60%, sometimes closer to 80%. In general I find Ethuware more or less on similar difficulty level as the real exam. Maybe slightly more difficult in some aspects, but not 15% more as reports from Ethnuware users show.

BTW I tried Whizlab, but I hate online software. So I canceled the license, had some heavy fight to get money back. Not good experience at all, I don't think I will tried this soft anymore at all.

After few hard weeks I manage to pass K&B mock up exams at around 60% and Examlab at 40-50%. In the meanwhile I tried to write a lot of small programs to remember API, which probably was my weakest side. I tried to remember as much as I could, but there is so much API and so little time ;-) Guys with more practical experience should have easier task here.

So finally the exam came. Testing center was rather disappointing. Early 1990s, 15'' monitors with 65Hz refresh. My eyes started to hurt me after 1 hour!!! Air conditioning way too cold, freezing. No bottle of water allowed. Question to Prometrics: are you nuts for your policy? Am I going to cheat with small bottle of water? Crazy policy!!! I will think again if I need any other certification from you... absolutely ridiculous approach.

Questions wise. I found the exam slightly out of my comfort zone. Mostly because of obscure font used and lack of keywords being bold, which helps to read through code in Ethnuware. Secondly come question look easy, but as it turned out with lot of tricks and misleading involved!!! Anyway, I manage to pass at very reasonable level all objectives, except Collections/Generics and Concurrency. I knew with Collections I was so so, but Threads were definitely harder then I expected and practiced. Basically that was the part that stopped me reaching +85% score I think. Maybe other test would be easier ;-)

One more advice. Write many, many small programs and practice a lot API. Once you get general concept, thats good, but without practice, few forgotten API function can sink your result!!! You should know K&B book API provided up side down. If I would have 2 more weeks I would get better result. Oh well, anyway, SCJP is passed. Time to move forward...

Thanks again and hope this experience will help somebody,

k
Deepak Bala
Bartender

Joined: Feb 24, 2006
Posts: 6661
    
    5

Thanks for sharing your story.

Congrats !


SCJP 6 articles - SCJP 5/6 mock exams - More SCJP Mocks
Larry Olson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 03, 2009
Posts: 142
Congrats on the SCJP success and thanks for sharing your experience. Yeah, I do agree that the Prometric policy sounds too rigid. I hope they will consider relaxing it a bit.

Also I understand that even though we can simulate the real exams using mock exams, it is not easy to simulate the exact exam environment and settings, which could be very different from your personal settings at home/work. Unfortunately the different exam environment (like too cold, having a plastic pad with a pen, not having water to drink, monitor settings not comfortable etc. ) could have an impact on the score. Well...we don't have a choice.

Anyway it is time for you to enjoy this success and move on to the next frontier...may be SCJD, SCWCD or whatever is your interest. Good luck.
Sandra Bachan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 18, 2010
Posts: 434
Really appreciate your advice.

I had taken Java Programming in undergrad and grad school when I was working towards my CS degrees (nearly 10 years ago). I had taken a break from programming all together as my first job out of school required other skills. Now with my new job, the focus is back in computer programming. Last Jan '10 when I purchased a voucher (went to Sun Java's website, who directed me to Prometric), I thought I would clear this exam by March '10 - boy was I wrong. This is my first serious round of Sierra/Bates (before that, I basically skimmed it) and I find interaction in these forums quite helpful.

Congratulations and all the best!


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K Mudof
Greenhorn

Joined: May 09, 2010
Posts: 13
Sandra,

yes, SCJP is more difficult then it looks. Particularly if good result. more then 90%, is desirable and someone does not have recent few years java programming experience.

With K&B book I would suggest printing "Two-minutes drill" sections. That is good base for remembering tricks you might encounter during exam and mock up tests. AND on top of that updating those drills with short explanation, notes and short examples to remember API ect. Whole K&B book is too extensive for this purpose. You cannot go trough whole process of understaing the problem you forgot, particularly if it runs through quite a few pages. It takes too much time. Good, to the point notes are crucial. Thats what I should do much earlier rather then going through K&B book again. My learning would be much more effective.

And write a lot of small snippets, from memory. Its good way of memorizing.

And obviously it always good to check test code for usual suspects: final variables, overrinding issues, scoping access and more and more...

Get also Ethnuware. They provide 13 or so unique mock up tests for very reasonable price. Dont rush to run all of them. Take one or two. See you weak sections, update your knowledge. Do one or two more tests again. Dont fall into trap of memorizing test answers which will skew you mockup test results. By the time you will get to the last test, you will forget answer from the first one, so you can start again and you will be force to remmebr concept and Java rules behind and based on that find correct explanation, rather then just recalling look of a question. Use it as learning tool and verification mechanism as well.

Good luck

k
Sandra Bachan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 18, 2010
Posts: 434
K Mudof wrote:Sandra,

yes, SCJP is more difficult then it looks. Particularly if good result. more then 90%, is desirable and someone does not have recent few years java programming experience.

With K&B book I would suggest printing "Two-minutes drill" sections. That is good base for remembering tricks you might encounter during exam and mock up tests. AND on top of that updating those drills with short explanation, notes and short examples to remember API ect. Whole K&B book is too extensive for this purpose. You cannot go trough whole process of understaing the problem you forgot, particularly if it runs through quite a few pages. It takes too much time. Good, to the point notes are crucial. Thats what I should do much earlier rather then going through K&B book again. My learning would be much more effective.


k


That's definately good to know. I thought that I would need two or three serious passes of the K&B book before I can understand enough of the material to venture into mock-exams. So I'm kind of relieved. I would be really really happy to take the exam in 2010 itself.
Sundar Singh.D
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 16, 2010
Posts: 1
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