This is my first post on JavaRanch. A very warm greeting to all my fellow Java programmers. I cleared the Java SE 7 Associate exam (1Z0-803) on 21st May 2013. I was a Java newbie and had never thought or even heard about getting Java certified when I ventured into learning Java. So this is how I think a Java newbie should try to 'tame' Java and get his Java certified.
1) Try to get a good understanding of the fundamentals of Java. Bruce Eckel's Thinking in Java is a good staring point.
2) Slowly but steadily graduate to SCJP 6 study guide by Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates (I have now given a place for them in my heart alongside Mr. Bill Joy, Mr. James Gosling and Mr. Bruce Eckel). You will find many concepts discussed in detail by Mr. Eckel being used by Kathy and Bates to explain some of the trickiest questions that may appear on the exam.
3) Last but not the least, give utmost importance to Mr. Bates's golden words in this thread. I saw this only the night before my exam and could not concentrate much on ArrayList class and that's precisely where I lost my 5% of total marks. Anyways I am happy with my 95% and would like to thank all who have helped me in achieving this goal.