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27 Comprehensive Exams

 
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I just uploaded the November 4 version of my mock exam. This new version has 497 questions distributed across 27 comprehensive exams and 46 single topic exams.
This is the first version of my exam that covers all of the major topics of the 1.4 version of the SCJP exam. Now, it will be interesting to see how a score on my comprehensive exams compares to a score on the real exam. Of course, I will need a lot of help from those of you that will soon be taking the real exam. A comparison between your score on some of my comprehensive exams and the real exam would be very interesting. I'm sure that a lot of people would love to see the result on the certification results message board. If you would prefer not to post your scores, then please email them to me.
I hope to hear from you soon.
 
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Hey Dan,
How do you factor in time limits? The Sun cert exam gives you 2 minutes / question. How much time should folks take on your exams - if you want to compare the two?
 
Dan Chisholm
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That's an interesting question. My exam questions tend to be longer than the real exam so more time will be needed. My comprehensive exams usually have 18 or 19 questions. If each question requires about 3 minutes then one exam should take a little less than an hour.
To all of those that are willing to post a score, it would also be interesting to see how much time is usually needed to complete one of my comprehensive exams.
 
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I think we've talked before about how Dan's questions really serve TWO goals -- they are both testing your understanding AND acting as a learning experience, whereas other strictly-mock-exam-simulations are designed to assess your readiness. And I agreed with Bert in an earlier post that time *IS* potentially a factor in the 1.4 exam.
So I'm thinking that Dan's questions will indeed test your knowledge and understanding, as well as provide a valuable learning tool, but they don't attempt to completely and exactly simulate the exam, so you shouldn't try to use them as a way to assess your readiness to sit the exam. There's a difference between having the *knowledge* for the exam and actually being ready to *take* the exam.
To *take* the exam, you need to be able to interpret the questions in a reasonable amount of time (under 2 minutes each), focus very intensely for at least 90 minutes, and be able to look at a question from all sides, rather than being distracted by things that *look* like the problem but really aren't.
Cowgirl's brain tip o' the day:
Did you know that *water* is one of the most important tools you have to beef up your brainpower? The brain wants and needs to stay bathed in fluid, and if you are dehydrated, your brain won't function as well. So when you study, drink water. When you aren't studying, drink water. When you take the exam, see if they'll let you bring a bottle of water in! (and in any case, drink plenty right *before* the exam).
We all know that one of the best post-alcholic-frenzy headache remedies is to drink lots of water BEFORE you go to bed.
Bottom line: your head wants water!
Cheers,
Kathy
 
Dan Chisholm
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Judging by the posts on the certification results message board, I think that everyone understands that my exam is most effectively used as a learning tool early in the exam preparations process rather than as a tool for measuring preparedness for the real exam. More specifically, the single topic exams are an effective set of learning exercises while working through any exam study guide.
A student that is working through any programming class at a university will do so by listening to lectures, reading a textbook, and by working with a lot of code. At the end of the class the student will take an exam. Although the exam is a critical part of the process it is actually only a small part of it. The majority of the experience is actually the learning process and the experience of working with a lot of code. That's the part of the process that my web site is designed to address. I refer to the content as an exam because that is what a person is most likely to type into a search engine. In reality, my web site provides a much more effective learning experience than testing experience.
Having said the above, my latest version of the exam is the very first that actually covers all of the major topics listed in the objects for the 1.4 version of the exam. With previous versions of the exam, there was no chance of any useful correlation between the results of my exam and any other. This is the first version where any sort of correlation is even possible. It would be interesting to see what happens.
Preparing for an exam is like training for a downhill ski race. The first step is to learn the basic techniques on the ski runs in your hometown. The final step is to do your final preparation on the actual ski run where the competition will be held. If either step is omitted your chances of success are reduced. My web site provides an excellent opportunity to learn the basic techniques. Other exams will provide a better preview of the actual exam. Sounds like symbiosis to me. Anyone that does not agree is free to skip one step or the other.
 
Kathy Sierra
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Originally posted by Dan Chisholm:

Preparing for an exam is like training for a downhill ski race.
<snip>
If either step is omitted your chances of success are reduced.
<snip>
Anyone that does not agree is free to skip one step or the other.


I could not agree more (and good analogy). I skipped a step when learning to snowboard, and found myself on a very steep hill sliding down flat on my a**.
Memorizing answers to mock exams gets you good at... those questions. If you don't really learn the background material, you won't be able to apply your knowledge to the new scenarios on the exam questions.
Cheers,
Kathy
(I went back to skiing )
 
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So how about this analogy, Dans exams are like lead boots for running, you put them on and woah life is hard, you are truly working at the task in hand. But, and this is a big but, your (brain) muscles are working real hard. When you take off the lead boots you move like the wind on a windy day and before you know it the exam is passed and you are posting here to thank and Praise St Dan of SCJP.
 
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Marcus, I wish your prophecy comes true for me. I'm taking the exam on the 14th of Nov.
Will you have a 1.4 mock exam before that?
 
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Dan Chisholm
U did a good job. I started learning Java around November last year and I am planning to write the 1.2 exam (310-025).
Infact, I am right there at your site as I am writing this. I think I'll concentrate on the Topical questions first, so that I can start with those topics relevant to the 1.2 exam.
Thanks for the effort you put in to provide such a material. You'll get fitback as per my real exam scores and that of your tests.
Ikechukwu Morah
(SCJP1.2 to be)

[ November 06, 2002: Message edited by: Ikechukwu Morah ]
 
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