Just want to say a big thanks to Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates for writing such great books. I'm in the middle of switching careers and really have no programming experience to speak of. I only knew the very basics that they give to us Civil Engineers. So, a couple of months ago, interested in Java technology, I decided a good first approach to learning would be the certification route. I read Head First Java to get acquainted with the Java syntax and OOP. OOP was totally new to me. I then closely read the SCJP book, answered all mock exam questions in the main book and the practice exams. I was disheartened because it was more difficult than I had expected. Well, I stuck with it, and read the SCJP book again and retook all the mock exams. I was getting about 50% correct, and a little concerned. I bit the bullet and just took the real 1Z0-851 and passed with an 80%. I also feel as I have a good foundation to get started writing Java code, with a long way ahead of me. This community is great and I thank everyone.
Here's a follow up to my progress since March. I passed the OCE-WCD6 today with a 78%. First and foremost, I must give a huge thank you to the Head First team for the JSP&Servlets book. It is an excellent resource. I also can't thank Enthuware enough for offering such a great product at a very fair price. I see purchasing these two items as essential to getting the most out of one's studies. Finally, I applaud the efforts of Nikos Pougounias for his Java blog and mock exams, and last but certainly not least Piotr Nowicki for the Servlet3 mock exam material. The support in the Java community is exceptional.
Now, for my thoughts on the exam: There was much more breadth, but less depth than the OCPJP exam. It was certainly not as "tricky", but I can see that one really needs to understand the API well. For a complete programming newbie like myself, it was a bit of a shock at first, but it also has now allowed me to understand how to read the specs and API docs much better. The exam was fair, if ever so slightly more difficult than the Enthuware mock exams for which my average score was about the same. I think I got used to its question style, and the ones on the real exam were sometimes a little different. Tomorrow, I will take a day off and Monday begin the HF EJB book in preparation for the next one I'm going to tackle. Thank you again for all the assistance. I'm enjoying the studies.