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Failed first attempt at Java OCA exam - what next?

 
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Hi all,

First, this forum is the best whether looking for advice, explanations or just a general word of encouragement. You guys rock! My situation is that I'm new to Java(3 months experience) and have been studying for the past two and 1/2 months (at least 3 hours a day) using Jeanne and Scott's book plus Enuthuware tests( very good and many questions on exam were similar) I had been doing okay on the practice tests for Enthuware - anywhere between 65 and 85 %, however I believe I started memorizing some of the format of the questions and therefore, were able to answer them fairly quickly. On exam day, I felt prepared but got tripped up on the first few questions and didn't manage my time well creating a time crunch at the end and ended up guessing on about 7 questions at the end blindly with no time to even read them. Needless to say, I didn't re-check my answers either.  The final result was a 50%.  I want to sit for it again in a few weeks but unsure of how to proceed from here. Do I re-take all the Enthuware tests but more closely monitor time on each question? Are there other practice tests sources I should try where I haven't seen the questions so much? What do you guys suggest? I don't wan to overuse the same resources and get over-confident, however, I don't want to use bad practice tests either.

Thank you!!!
 
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That is unfortunate to hear Heather.

As far as taking the same Enthuware test more then once, it's not recommended as noted here http://enthuware.com/index.php/how-to-prepare-for-java-certification

Enthuware Site wrote:You should never take the same Standard Test twice. This is because you will inadvertently remember the answers and you will invariably score a lot higher on this attempt.


If you feel that you have exhausted Enthuware then you may want to try Wizlabs or maybe OracleStudy.
But these do seem to cost a bit more and sometimes some people say that these are not the best resources as they may have outdated questions.
On the other hand Jeanne and Scott have also put out a book with practice questions for both the OCA 1Z0-808 and OCP 1Z0-809 exams (it's one book).
However only take more mock exams after you have done more studying/prep work.

Aside from doing reading preparing by reading Jeanne and Scott's book, were you programming as well?
I have found that creating smaller programs, say 10 to 50 lines has really helped me.
When creating these programs please use a simple text editor like Notepad++ (free) or something like that.
Some people even use Notepad, but that is not recommended for everyone.

While Jeanne and Scott's book is a great resource I have also used the following resources, however I'm not suggesting that you purchase them:
-OCA Java SE 8 Programmer I Exam Guide (Exams 1Z0-808) - by Kathy Sierra (Author), Bert Bates (Author)
(This book comes with an PDF of the book and a test simulator which you install your local system.)
-OCA Java SE 8 Programmer I Certification Guide Paperback - by Mala Gupta (Author)

An other resource/book can be good because not everyone learns the same way and not every author explains things the same way.
Not only that some books may spend more time on one subject then other books because they want to make sure that they cover everything.

Note: If you register Jeanne and Scott's book online then you get access to mock exam questions and some other learning materials.

Important note: You should go over all the questions from all the tests that you took, even the ones which you answered correctly.
Sometimes you may have answered a question correctly, but for the wrong reasons and knowing the correct reasons will help you out.

Finally one thing, which has helped me, is reading posts on this site and answering what I can, as well as asking questions.
I have found that when I attempt to explain an answer I learn the answer much better as I have to think about it more.

Edit: Grammar Fixed
 
Heather Keating
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Thanks. I will try the practice tests that came with the book. The biggest lesson learned for me is that I started the Enthuware tests too early before I fully understood the concepts so now I will only use them to keep my test taking skills sharp and learn from missed questions but now use the score as a real measure. I may look into Whizlabs as well but from looking at some sample questions, they are not very realistic. I guess better than nothing? On the exam, I spent too much time on a few questions with a lot of code and information to take in (including having to scroll up and now); I'm not sure if this is normal or if the test center I chose wasn't very modern. I should have marked those and moved on to questions I felt more confident about. If you have any advice on managing time as I'm new to Java and take longer to read through code, that would be awesome too!
 
Pete Letkeman
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Please do not take the practice tests which came with the book until after you have done some prep work.
Otherwise you may not get the most benefit from taking them that you could.

Time management is an issue for me as well.
Luckily, Roel De Nijs did do some work for us regarding this as noted in this post
https://coderanch.com/t/681820/certification#3198244

Another thing regarding time: Please remember that each question is worth the exact same amount of (1/70) * 100 = 1.43% for your final mark.
If you have trouble areas (I know that I do) or areas where you know that you have to spend more time then you may want to take a guess on that question, mark it, and come back to it after the other questions have been answered.
Do not forget that you do not loose marks for answering a question incorrectly. So take your best guess if you get stumped.

 
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Heather Barnes wrote:Failed first attempt at Java OCA exam


Sorry to hear you have failed the certification exam!

Heather Barnes wrote:On exam day, I felt prepared but got tripped up on the first few questions and didn't manage my time well creating a time crunch at the end and ended up guessing on about 7 questions at the end blindly with no time to even read them. Needless to say, I didn't re-check my answers either.  The final result was a 50%. I want to sit for it again in a few weeks but unsure of how to proceed from here.


I might be wrong here, but you'll need much more time to thoroughly prepare yourself for your second attempt than a few weeks. I assume it will more likely be a few months. Because you clearly don't have the Java knowledge to pass this exam. Your final score was 50% so you answered 35 out of 70 questions correctly. Even if you ignore the 7 questions you answered blindly at the end of the exam, you would have scored 35 out of 63 which is 55.5% and that's still a significant failure. And that might sound (very) harsh, but it's a fact! And although you answered these questions without reading, there's a chance you have answered one (or even two) correctly which means your score would be even lower if we ignore these questions.

Heather Barnes wrote:I had been doing okay on the practice tests for Enthuware - anywhere between 65 and 85 %


For me that's very hard to believe. If you consistently scored between 65% and 85% on your first attempt of an Enthuware exam, your actual exam score should have been higher than 50%. But since you have mentioned "memorizing" in your explanation, you'll probably have taken each exam multiple times and then your mock exam score is completely useless (because you'll answer questions correctly based on memorization instead of actual knowledge).

Do I re-take all the Enthuware tests but more closely monitor time on each question? Are there other practice tests sources I should try where I haven't seen the questions so much? What do you guys suggest? I don't wan to overuse the same resources and get over-confident, however, I don't want to use bad practice tests either.


I assume you have a detailed score report indicating which are your weaker exam topics/objectives. Before taking any other mock exams, you have to study first. Read through the study guide again and maybe even purchase another one to get some other insights (point of views) and probably some additional sets of mock questions as well. If you have taken Enthuware mock exams multiple times, it's probably useless to give a good indication of your readiness for the actual exam. So that's why you need to have a few other mock exams (e.g. from another study guide).

You also didn't provide much information about how you have prepared. Did you only read/study the study guide and then took mock exams? Did you write loads of small code snippets? Did you use an IDE when writing code snippets? Also when you have taken a mock exam, you should always read the explanation, even if you answered the question correctly! And the reason why: you might have answered the question correctly for another (incorrect) reason.

And finally, if you use the search function, you'll find plenty of topics with advice to prepare (and ace) the OCA exam. Here are a few:
  • Studying so hard just to fail(1z0-808)
  • Failing Java SE 8 Programmer I
  • Bad Experience with OCA 7 exams
  • Any tricks about how to manage the 120 min for so many question?
  • second failed OCAJP
  • Need some advice after failing the exam


  • Hope it helps!
    Kind regards,
    Roel
     
    Heather Keating
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    I did take a few of the Enthuware mock exams more than once,however, I did pass the last-day exam without having seen the questions before. You are right that I clearly do need to increase my Java knowledge in certain areas. I did also get very nervous on the test after I knew my timing was off. A bit more detailed on how I prepared: Reading the OCA book from Jeanne and Scott multiple times and reviewing my test answers after each one and going through where I have holes again with the book concepts and online resources such as Stackoverflow and Coderanch. I purchased the additional practice questions book also from Jeanne and Scott for OCA and OCP and went through each chapter and then reviewed the concepts I missed again. The one thing I didn't do as consistently was write snippets of code for each concept - I focused more on doing this for areas I often got confused on. Is this maybe where I missed in my preparation?
     
    Roel De Nijs
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    Heather Barnes wrote:The one thing I didn't do as consistently was write snippets of code for each concept - I focused more on doing this for areas I often got confused on. Is this maybe where I missed in my preparation?


    Definitely!

    Learning a programming language is like driving a car: you don't learn how to drive a car by just reading a book (a few times), you have to get your hands dirty. During your preparation you should definitely write a boatload of small code snippets, preferably using your favourite text editor, javac (to compile your code) and java (to run your code). On the exam you need to assess code snippets, spot compiler errors, select the correct output,... (without an IDE). Each code snippet in the study guide should be the starting point to do plenty of experiments (change access modifier, change return type, add throws clause, mark an instance method static or final, and so on). And before you compile (and run) the program, you try to predict what will happen after you made the changes. Then you compile the program (and if it successfully compiles, run it as well) and see if your expectations/thoughts were correct.
     
    Heather Keating
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    This is added to my new game plan! I'm going to purchase another study guide book to get a different perspective as well. Thank you for keeping it real with me haha! I've decided to not schedule the re-take yet as the extra pressure and rushing through more preparations will not help me in the short and long run. I hope to feel ready to take it on again in a few months.
     
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    Sorry to hear that you have failed. But don't lose hope Champion. Its not the end of the world. Prepare another time and you can definately crack it. Try to use different materials this time so that you get something new. You can use Whizlabs Simulator. Those simulators are good enough. You can use youtube videos to get things more clear https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTXd89t8ngI&list=PLcj5PWxT3sFQqY7BheqtR9fUsPUv4I8sB.
    And don't lose hope champion, you can definately crack it.
     
    Heather Keating
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    Hi all!

    Just an update: I passed with a 77% today. Thanks for all the advice and explanations from this forum! After taking your advice for another month, I felt ready to take it again. I gave every question a first pass with 35 minutes to spare going back to ones I marked for review. The moral is to not give up or get discouraged and take time to have fun away from the studying stress.  
     
    Pete Letkeman
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    That is great news Heather. Congratulations!

    Hopefully not you can relax a bit.
    When you get a few moments please add yourself to
    https://coderanch.com/wiki/659980/Ocajp-Wall-Fame

    If you next challenge is the OCP 1Z0-809 exam then please take a look at
    https://coderanch.com/wiki/659976/Ocpjp-Wall-Fame
    To see what others have used to prepare for the test. This could save you time, money, disappointment and frustration.

    If you did purchase another resource/book then let please let everyone/us know.

    Once again, great job and I'm glad that you stuck to it.
     
    O Shea
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    Congratulations champion. Good to see that your hard. Now take a bit of relax and then move your next Target. Once again many-2 congratulations on your success.
     
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