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Those Who Scored High (90%+), How Did You Prepare?

Yalvin Duha
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Joined: Apr 07, 2012
Posts: 40

I do not know where I stand as of now, but I started preparing for the exam about a few weeks ago, and I'm planning to take the test in the middle of June (less than 2 months from now).

I have not rigorously coded for the past 7 years, in any language to be honest. As I finish each section of K&B, I'm going through the end-of-chapter mock exams, and I'm scoring 70% which is very disappointing. Because I do go dig around on every little topic as much as I could, write codes, rewrite them, try to get as whacky as the language permits, I feel like doing 70% is a very weak result. It's freaking me out, and I'm doubting that maybe I should postpone the exam by a few weeks (you can do that, right?)!

Besides 100's of codes I've written (by the end of chapter 4), I'm creating a long list of rules and exceptions that I realize either I didn't know or having a difficult time mastering them (according to the exams or little codes that act up unexpectedly), with, of course, ample of examples for ease of studying. I create a package for every topic, and accordingly, sub packages for various scenarios just to keep everything tidy and easy to navigate in case I needed to review them later on. Concurrently, I throw all the necessary bullet points in my notes so I can scan them quickly. I keep going back and forth between my codes when something pops up in my head, or I encounter a precarious question, article, comment, etc., which become a daunting task.

I was hoping -- planning actually -- to finish K&B and some other book, by mid-May, so I could start taking at least 20-25 full or partial mock exams by mid-June, but by the pace I'm going, I don't think that would be feasible. I'm realizing that I'm making some really dumb mistakes while taking K&B end-of-chapter exams which should bump my score to mid 70's%, but no more than 1 or 2 (out of 10-15 questions). Is this a good starting point? If I was coding for the past 7 years, I would have probably studied for less than a few weeks, but then again, like some, this is not my situation.

What are your suggestions?

P.S. Are there study groups in major U.S. metropolitans that one can get in contact with and do a group study? I've heard for some certifications people do that. I don't think the JUG groups provide that.
saloni jhanwar
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Joined: Feb 09, 2012
Posts: 583

Yalvin Duha wrote:I do not know where I stand as of now, but I started preparing for the exam about a few weeks ago, and I'm planning to take the test in the middle of June (less than 2 months from now).

I have not rigorously coded for the past 7 years, in any language to be honest. As I finish each section of K&B, I'm going through the end-of-chapter mock exams, and I'm scoring 70% which is very disappointing. Because I do go dig around on every little topic as much as I could, write codes, rewrite them, try to get as whacky as the language permits, I feel like doing 70% is a very weak result. It's freaking me out, and I'm doubting that maybe I should postpone the exam by a few weeks (you can do that, right?)!

Besides 100's of codes I've written (by the end of chapter 4), I'm creating a long list of rules and exceptions that I realize either I didn't know or having a difficult time mastering them (according to the exams or little codes that act up unexpectedly), with, of course, ample of examples for ease of studying. I create a package for every topic, and accordingly, sub packages for various scenarios just to keep everything tidy and easy to navigate in case I needed to review them later on. Concurrently, I throw all the necessary bullet points in my notes so I can scan them quickly. I keep going back and forth between my codes when something pops up in my head, or I encounter a precarious question, article, comment, etc., which become a daunting task.

I was hoping -- planning actually -- to finish K&B and some other book, by mid-May, so I could start taking at least 20-25 full or partial mock exams by mid-June, but by the pace I'm going, I don't think that would be feasible. I'm realizing that I'm making some really dumb mistakes while taking K&B end-of-chapter exams which should bump my score to mid 70's%, but no more than 1 or 2 (out of 10-15 questions). Is this a good starting point? If I was coding for the past 7 years, I would have probably studied for less than a few weeks, but then again, like some, this is not my situation.

What are your suggestions?

P.S. Are there study groups in major U.S. metropolitans that one can get in contact with and do a group study? I've heard for some certifications people do that. I don't think the JUG groups provide that.


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Seetharaman Venkatasamy
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Joined: Jan 28, 2008
Posts: 5575

group study? cant you do it here?
dennis deems
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Joined: Mar 12, 2011
Posts: 808
I used the K&B study guide with the CD of mock exams, and the K&B book of practice exams. I had a deadline of six months from the start of my employment to pass the exam. I was working full time and studying mostly on weekends. Still, I tried to read at least a little bit in K&B every day -- about fifteen minutes or so in the evenings. So: it's possible to score well without giving over your whole life.

First, I read the book through from start to finish. That took about three weeks. I read slowly enough so that I felt I understood everything BUT I didn't linger over topics. I did the self-check quizzes at the end of each chapter, but at this point I wasn't concerned about my low scores (and they were very low, about fifty percent usually, which vexed me, but I pressed onward) -- I just wanted to get through the book. Then I took the first two practice exams from the book of practice exams. Now I had an idea of which topics I really had solid knowledge of, and which ones I really didn't.

Here's the big mistake I made: I took a break. My head was so full of Java I thought I would go mad, and I had surgery to deal with, so I thought I could afford a few weeks away from it. Instead, I should have tried to work in at least half an hour each day. I'm not unhappy with my score but I was terribly nervous up to the day of the exam, needlessly so.

When I felt ready to resume studying, I read the book again. Yep, all the way through a second time. But the second time, I breezed through chapters where I felt secure. And I really pored over the chapters where I felt shaky. Also, I started writing small programs to demonstrate concepts, to verify and challenge my understanding of things. This really, really helped a lot; I don't think there's any substitute for working through things in your own code. By the way, when I say "small programs" I mean really really small - just enough to enable me to see the concept in action and no more. I don't know exactly how many programs like this I wrote, but it's easily more than 200. I started taking the mock exams on the CD. Again, my initial scores were depressingly low. Don't be excessively alarmed by low scores on the mocks! I don't think I ever got higher than 70 percent. Also, I think the mock exams are randomized from a pool of questions, so take them at least enough times so you cycle through them all.

Now I started making flash cards. Honestly, I'm not sure they helped me much at all, but I had co-workers who had done this, and the cards made me feel I was doing something productive. What was much more helpful is that I visited this site probably every day, and when the topic of discussion was the same topic I was working on it really helped a lot.

The final weeks before the exam, I took the mock exams over and over. I was lucky because at that time Oracle was offering a free online practice exam, and I took it two weeks before my exam date. It gave me a lot more confidence. I saw strong similarities between oracle's practice questions and the ones in K&B. And if I could do the whole thing over, I would spend a lot more time just working with the K&B practice exams. I only took 3 out of the 6 from the book of practice exams. The real exam questions aren't nearly as tricky, but their structures and code snippets are extremely similar.

Hope this helps. Best of luck!

P.S. The mock questions are deliberately written to trick you into making dumb mistakes! And while studying I made them all. Just try to recognize those tricks when when you encounter them again.
 
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