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JavaRanch » Java Forums » Certification » Junior/Associate Certification (SCJA,OCAJ 5/6/8)
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Bert Bates

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8898
Hi Guys,

There seems to be lots of understandable and dangerous confusion about these exams. Let's compare them:

=== OCAJ

The old SCJA is now called OCAJ. In other words OCAJ ~= SCJA.

- This exam was designed for professionals who might not be programmers but who want to understand some aspects of the Java programming world. It's a very broad exam, but not very deep. For instance, this exam tests candidates on a basic understanding of ME vs. SE vs. EE.

- Passing this exam (the OCAJ), DOES NOT fulfill the pre-req for taking the new OCP 7 exam.

- This exam overlaps VERY LITTLE with the new OCA exam. Study materials for the old SCJA / OCAJ, WILL NOT prepare you for the new OCA exam.

=== OCA

This new exam IS the pre-req for candidates without an existing SCJP certification who want to earn the OCP.

- This new exam, the OCA, is MUCH deeper and harder than the old SCJA / OCAJ. In fact, this exam covers the same topics and depth and breath as about 60% of the SCJP 6 exam. It's deep and challenging!

- Let me repeat: Study materials for the old SCJA, WILL NOT prepare you for the new OCA exam.



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Robert James Liguori
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 27, 2007
Posts: 544


You made this statement, "This (SCJA) exam overlaps VERY LITTLE with the new OCA exam. Study materials for the old SCJA / OCAJ, WILL NOT prepare you for the new OCA exam."

Below is a quick-look of the overlapping objectives between the Sun Certified Java Associate (CX-310-019) and the Java SE 7 Programmer I (IZO-803) exams, showing that SCJA material will surely assist in studying for *many* of the objectives:

SCJA: 1.2 Describe, compare, and contrast concrete classes, abstract classes, and interfaces, and how inheritance applies to them.
OCAJP7: 7.1 Implement inheritance
SCJA: 1.4 Describe information hiding (using private attributes and methods), encapsulation, and exposing object functionality using public methods; and describe the JavaBeans conventions for setter and getter methods.
OCAJP7: 6.7 Apply encapsulation principles to a class
OCAJP7: 2.3 Read or write to object fields
SCJA: 1.5 Describe polymorphism as it applies to classes and interfaces, and describe and apply the "program to an interface" principle.
OCAJP7: 7.2 Develop code that demonstrates the use of polymorphism
SCJA: 3.1 Develop code that uses primitives, enumeration types, and object references, and recognize literals of these types.
OCAJP7: 2.2 Differentiate between object reference variables and primitive variables
OCAJP7: 7.3 Differentiate between the type of a reference and the type of an object
OCAJP7: 6.8 Determine the effect upon object references and primitive values when they are passed into methods that change the values
SCJA: 3.2 Develop code that declares concrete classes, abstract classes, and interfaces, code that supports implementation and interface inheritance, code that declares instance attributes and methods, and code that uses the Java access modifiers: private and public.
OCAJP7: 7.6 Use abstract classes and interfaces
OCAJP7: 6.6 Apply access modifiers
SCJA: 3.3 Develop code that implements simple class associations, code that implements multiplicity using arrays, and recognize code that implements compositions as opposed to simple associations, and code that correctly implements association navigation.
OCAJP7: 4.1 Declare, instantiate, initialize and use a one-dimensional array
OCAJP7: 4.2 Declare, instantiate, initialize and use multi-dimensional array
SCJA: 3.4 Develop code that uses polymorphism for both classes and interfaces, and recognize code that uses the "program to an interface" principle.
OCAJP7: 7.2 Develop code that demonstrates the use of polymorphism
SCJA: 4.1 Describe, compare, and contrast these three fundamental types of statements: assignment, conditional, and iteration, and given a description of an algorithm, select the appropriate type of statement to design the algorithm.
OCAJP7: 5.1 Create and use while loops
OCAJP7: 5.2 Create and use for loops including the enhanced for loop
OCAJP7: 5.3 Create and use do/while loops
OCAJP7: 5.4 Compare loop constructs
OCAJP7: 5.5 Use break and continue
SCJA: 4.2 Given an algorithm as pseudo-code, determine the correct scope for a variable used in the algorithm, and develop code to declare variables in any of the following scopes: instance variable, method parameter, and local variable.
OCAJP7: 1.1 Define the scope of variables
OCAJP7: 2.1 Declare and initialize variables
OCAJP7: 6.1 Create methods with arguments and return values
SCJA: 4.3 Given an algorithm as pseudo-code, develop method code that implements the algorithm using conditional statements (if and switch), iteration statements (for, for-each, while, and do-while), assignment statements, and break and continue statements to control the flow within switch and iteration statements.
OCAJP7: 3.5 Use a switch statement
OCAJP7: 3.4 Create if and if/else constructs
SCJA: 4.4 Given an algorithm with multiple inputs and an output, develop method code that implements the algorithm using method parameters, a return type, and the return statement, and recognize the effects when object references and primitives are passed into methods that modify them.
OCAJP7: 2.5 Call methods on objects
SCJA: 4.5 Given an algorithm as pseudo-code, develop code that correctly applies the appropriate operators including assignment operators (limited to: =, +=, -=), arithmetic operators (limited to: +, -, *, /, %, ++, --), relational operators (limited to: <, <=, >, >=, ==, !=), logical operators (limited to: !, &&, ||) to produce a desired result. Also, write code that determines the equality of two objects or two primitives.
OCAJP7: 3.1 Use Java operators
SCJA: 4.6 Develop code that uses the concatenation operator (+), and the following methods from class String: charAt, indexOf, trim, substring, replace, length, startsWith, and endsWith.
OCAJP7: 2.7 Create and manipulate strings
SCJA: 5.1 Describe the purpose of packages in the Java language, and recognize the proper use of import and package statements.
OCAJP7: 1.4 Import other Java packages to make them accessible in your code

The OCAJP7 (Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 7 Programmer (OCAJP7) certification) does have extended coverage, especially in the case of constructors and exception handling.

Here are some of the new requirements in the OCAJP7 that the SCJA fell short on:

2.4 Explain an object's lifecycle
2.6 Manipulate data using the StringBuilder class and its methods
3.3 Test equality between strings and other objects using == and equals ()
3.2 Use parentheses to override operator precedence
4.3 Declare and use an ArrayList
6.2 Apply the static keyword to methods and fields
6.3 Create an overloaded method
6.4 Differentiate between default and user-defined constructors
6.5 Create and overload constructors
7.4 Determine when casting is necessary
7.5 Use super and this to access objects and constructors
8.1 Differentiate among checked exceptions, RuntimeExceptions and Errors
8.2 Create a try-catch block and determine how exceptions alter normal program flow
8.3 Describe what exceptions are used for in Java
8.4 Invoke a method that throws an exception
8.5 Recognize common exception classes and categories

I hope this information assists our fellow certification candidates.

Robert Liguori

My Blog (I frequently post on Java, JSF and NetBeans)
Bert Bates

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8898
Hi Robert, et. al.,

I want to urge caution here. I'd much rather advise candidates to over-prepare rather than under-prepare.

On the surface, it would seem reasonable to compare the wording of the old Sun objectives to the wording of the new Oracle objectives. Reasonable, but not accurate.

There was virtually no overlap in the teams that made these two exams. In many cases, even though the objectives sound similar, the depth of questions on the new exam has been greatly increased. I'm really not slamming existing SCJA books. But those SCJA books were written for an extremely different exam than the new OCA.

Full disclosure here... often people ask if Head First Java is good for any of the Java certification exams. I have said publicly many times, and I'll say it again now - Head First Java is NOT designed to help you prepare for any of the Oracle Java certifications. Similarly, when Sun moved the EJB exam to EJB 3.0 I was very forthcoming in the EJB forum, telling everyone that our EJB book would NOT be sufficient for the new exam. It was a good book for the old exam, as I'm sure the SCJA books are for the SCJA exam.


Palak Mathur
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 29, 2007
Posts: 316

Hi Bert and Robert,

Since there is so much confusion regarding OCA/OCP Java 7 examination, wouldn't it be better to go for OCP Java 6 exam and then take OCP Java 7 exam as an upgrade?

Palak Mathur

Palak Mathur | My Blog | TechJaunt | What is JavaRanch? | List of All FAQs
Kate Thomas

Joined: Nov 24, 2009
Posts: 13
Hi Bert ,

I am planning to go for " Java SE 7 Programmer I" , And i am interested in preparing from your & Kathy's Book "OCA/OCP Java SE 7 Programmer I & II Study Guide"

I really want to pass this exam ASAP ... and want to look forward for "Java SE 7 Programmer II"

May I Know when your new book will be available...Or if you can guide me from where i can get started to prepare for exam. Initially getting started from your book " Sun Certified Programmer for Java 6 Exam 310-065" would be helpful in preparing for " Java SE 7 Programmer I" ??

That would be very thankful..

Jonathan T Cohen

Joined: Jun 29, 2012
Posts: 5
I stumbled across the videos on YouTube. They aren't a replacement for the prep materials but they are fantastic for practicing the multithreading section. I found them extremely useful.

I agree. Here's the link:
subject: OCA vs. OCAJ vs. SCJA
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