Hello I did my SCWCD today and passed with 81%. Of course thanks to the peopler of JavaRanch and al posters. They really helped me a lot ! About the exam : A lot of EL and tag (classic, simple an tag files), javabeans, etc... Very little questions about security, servlet API and patterns. I used the SCWCD book from Manning, but found a lot of errors, and it didn't cover everything. Especially, EL was not enough. And configuration settings in WEB.XML. For instance, i had a question about welcome files, and one about EJB configuration in the web.xml, but it wasn't in the book. Also the use of variable in the tld, wasn't explained in the book.
Congratulation for your exam Chris. I'm studying on the same book and i'm a little preoccupied for the rewiews that i red about manning's book. Your considerations seem to confirm my suspicions. Is there any other weakness in the book other those you posted?. In particular: are the chapters about custom tag well written or they also are not covered in deep ?
I found the classic and simple tag good, but the tag-file was not covered enough. Try to find some examples on the internet so that you understand them better. If you study security, just read the security piece in the servlet 2.4 spec's. It's only 10 or 15 pages, but there some extra info that could come in handy. One thing i still remember about the book is that in the sessionDestroyed method of the httpsessionlistener, you can't use the session anymore. But this has changed in the new spec. Now you can.
I didn't used the hfsj book so i can't say anything about it. But i heard it is quit good.
The book i used for my scjp was also from Kathy Sierra, and that one was very good.