Background I'm a 15 year old student who has just cleared his secondary education. I have a knack for computers and am currently building my online profile (github, blog, etc.) I already had ~2 years of experience in Java and had been eyeing the Oracle certification for quite some time. Eventually, in the summer vacations, I decided to go all in, bought a few books and sat down and studied for the exam.
Process The books that I used for the certification were:
OCA Java SE 8 Programmer I - Mala Gupta
OCA/OCP Java 8 practice tests - Selikoff and Boyarsky
I spent around 3 weeks studying for the exam with an average time of ~1.5 hours per day. I would go through the chapters and topics in Mala Gupta and do the respective questions for those topics from the practice tests book. I also wrote a lot of practice programs to wrap my head around some new concepts (Java 8 Date/Time API for instance). Most of the content was easy as I had already studied it in school and had prior programming experience. Personally for me, the hard parts were the new Java 8 features and interfaces in Java 8 (this may vary from person to person). My advice would be to spend extra time on the harder parts and comparatively less time on the easier parts (looping and decisions was easy - I went through those in a day each).
Most of my practice programs were written in Eclipse (even though most books ask you to NOT do this). I found eclipse's autocompilation features handy for spotting errors. I then got a chance to tweak the code to see if the error reappears in real time, something that iterative compilation will never be able to do. That did help me learn faster. (again, my methods may not necessarily resonate with someone else's)
Before giving the exam Once I had finished the syllabus, I went through the two practice tests that I had - one from Mala Gupta and one from Selikoff and Boyarsky. I scored 85-86% on both tests. I also gave the free enthuware test containing 25 questions and scored 80% in that. I did not pay for the full enthuware mock test set as I felt pretty comfortable with my performance.
Giving the exam There was a pearson VUE Centre right next to where I live (less than a kilometre away), which simplified travel quite a bit. Time management is not a problem in this exam. I repeat that - time management is NOT a problem. I finished all the questions in around one hour and 15 minutes and spent the rest of the time checking the answers. You will not be hard pressed for time in this exam, so take your time and think through every question calmly and carefully. Do not submit before time.
After the exam Amazingly, I did not get my results in 30 minutes. It took close to one and a half hours for my results to come, and around one and a half days for my certificate to be generated. This is something oracle can definetly work on.
Conclusion If you're a young guy (like me) reading this, my advice would be to give this exam only if you are confident of your capabilities in Java and are passionate about a future in computers. You will also spend a significant amount of your vacation time in studying for this exam. in addition to being slightly tricky, this exam is also expensive and will have to be funded by your parents. Also, there are no short term benefits to clearing this exam: the benefits will only show 10 years later when you turn up for a job interview and proudly proclaim you cleared the OCA at the age of 15. If you're okay with the above, then best of luck for the exam!
p.s: all the code that I wrote for the exam is available here. May come in handy to other aspirants.
"You have to let it all go, Neo. Fear, Doubt and Disbelief. Free your mind"
I hope you find the community here knowledgeable, welcoming and sharing.
Achieving such a high score is a great accomplishment for most people, let alone someone how is only 15 years old. Have a cow for all you hard work.
When you get a few moments please add your story to the OCA Wall Of Fame found here https://coderanch.com/wiki/659980/Ocajp-Wall-Fame.
If your next challenge is the Java OCP 809 exam then you may want to take some time to read some of the stories found on the OCP Wall Of Fame found here
This could really help you save some time, money and frustration.
“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.” ― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace