I'm trying to do some planning for the OCAJP 7 certification preparation, and for this I need an estimation of how long such preparation usually take on average. I realise that individual averages will significantly depend on the individual (in terms of technical aptitude, past experience, self-discipline and so forth), but I would be keen just to hear what this community thinks.
The only knowledge I have about Java and its syntax is from industry news and from reading the first three chapters of SCJA 6. I believe my basic understanding of the generic Java syntax is relatively adequate.
How familiar are you with OO concepts like encapsulation, polymorphism, inheritance,...?
OO formed part of my studies, so I am familiar with most OO concepts, and I know enough about OO in general to be resourceful if I don't understand something.
6 weeks equate to about 240 man hours, which is a bit better than my originally proposed 320.
Does anyone else have an opinion about the 240 man hours? Too much, too little?
It depends on your programming experience. If you already program with Java and are comfortable with its syntax and theory then the 240 hours is probably good. If you are learning to program to pass the test then 320 (or more) is more like it. You won't pass it unless you can look at code snippets and compile it in your head, or quickly on paper, and move on to the next question. Also, the concepts of encapsulation and polymorphism, as well as associations are embedded within the test. What that means is that you need to know these terms and these concepts because they will figure into the questions whether or not the test question directly asks you if you have an understanding of them. It is not an easy test for a novice programmer who is learning to code and is also under the gun to pass a certification test.
I started studying for the test about mid September, 2012 because it is a goal I set for myself at work and my employer is sponsoring me. There was pressure to take the exam at the end of 2012 so I could wrap up my 2012 goals. I had no illusion of passing the exam and made that clear but I took the test anyway and failed it. I studied hard for three months and put about 240 hours into my preparation.
I have the OCA Java SE7 Study Guide for 1Z0-803 by Finegan and Liqouri. I have read that book about three times, done all of the tests, and all but a few exercises. The mock test on the CD I scored a 91 on but that test is really for the concepts in the book and should not be used as a gauge for exam readiness. I personally think this book is vital to passing the exam. I also have Java: A Beginners Guide by Herbert Schildt. I use the Enthuware mock tests and it was my performance on these tests that told me I was not ready for the exam. These questions are tough, especially for a novice.
There is no substitution for programming and programming experience and that alone is what I think prepares one for this exam. I am planning to assess my readiness in 6 months and if I feel ready I'll do it. Having taken the test once has given me great insight, but even so, without that ability to compile that code in my head quickly and efficiently I know I can't pass this exam.