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Passing OCAJP 8 with confidence

 
Greenhorn
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Here are a few strategies that worked for me while preparing for the exam:

1) Starting with the basics: As a classics major with no idea of what the c of computer science meant, I tested the waters by reading three Head First books: C, C++, Java.  It is valuable to have a cursory glance at them even if you are from the field because they explain the nuts and bolts of the underlying algorithmic thinking process common to all programming languages.  No other book tackles ideas so interestingly at the granular level.  Moreover, they make for great leisure reads!  Even if you spend 20 minutes every day flipping through their pages, you will thank yourself later.

2) Referring to multiple books for a MECE (mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive) learning approach: I used three OCAJP 8 study guides by the following authors: Boyarsky and Selikoff, Finegan and Liguori, Mughal and Rasmussen.  While exam objectives are constant, the unique narrative style of each tome makes the experience mutually exclusive.  If you are already familiar with a topic, it is reinforced in new ways; and if a topic is rusty/only partially understood, it is absorbed in its totality.  Either way, the benefits of referring to multiple books cannot be expressed in words.  They can only be felt in the surge of confidence and belief while giving the exam.  At the least, try consulting 2 books.

3) Using the command line: Not coding in an IDE significantly boosted my knowledge of writing, compiling and running programs.  While painstaking at first, it is crucial to fully grasp the step-by-step ratiocination of crafting solid error-free code.  The learning curve is steeper, but it makes your foundation stronger.  And a sky scraper is only as strong as its base.  Thus, avoid cutting corners or overlooking this aspect.  Simply reading theory about the command line is not enough.  You should be able to independently deploy source code using programs such as jEdit, Notepad etc.

4) Note-taking: I used 2 tools.  Microsoft Excel--to write multifarious ideas succinctly and keep track of countless details.  Each cell was devoted to highlighting a new fact.  Furthermore, by observing the spreadsheet at a glance I could always see the big picture, which allowed me to not lose sight of the forest in the trees (super important to not go crazy remembering the myriad Java features).  Handwritten notes—making the hand-eye connection while jotting ideas is effective to retain information quickly.  Color coding themes and making diagrams (exception hierarchies, class inheritance features etc.) made remembering concepts fun, instantaneous and less cumbersome.  

5) Giving mock tests: I gave 9 Enthuware exams, as well as those in the books.  Don't get disheartened if you don't do well on Enthuware assessments.  Keep pushing through, look over your mistakes (don't skip this part, no matter how many or few), revise your handwritten and typed notes, approach the next test with renewed faith.  There is light at the end of the tunnel if you don’t give up, study with determination and are optimistic (not overconfident).
 
Marshal
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Congratulations on passing and welcome to the Ranch

I hope you didn't mean exhaustive when you said exhaustive. Nobody knows everything about the language.

I shall move you to our exam forum.
 
Sugandh Gupta
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Hi Campbell,

You are right  I meant thorough.
 
Sugandh Gupta
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Just realized, thorough has a similar connotation.  I actually meant extensive
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Yes, extensive sounds accurate.
 
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Congratulations and welcome to CodeRanch.

When you get a few minutes please add yourself  to the OCA Wall Of Fame
https://coderanch.com/wiki/659980/Ocajp-Wall-Fame

If you next challenge is the OCP 1Z0-809 exam then you may want to check out the OCP Wall Of Fame
https://coderanch.com/wiki/659976/Ocpjp-Wall-Fame
This could save you time, money, effort and frustration.
 
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Congratulations Champion for your big success. Now take a bit of relax and then move to your next target.
Once again many-many congratulations on your big success.
 
Sugandh Gupta
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Thank you!  I have added my name to the wall of fame.  Very happy to be a part of such a thriving community
 
Consider Paul's rocket mass heater.
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