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Passed OCA 1Z0-808 Java® SE 8 Programmer I @ 98%, OCP 1Z0-809 Java® SE 8 Programmer II @ 96%

 
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Hi all,

A couple of weeks ago I've passed my OCAJP with 98% and 4 days later OCPJP with 96%.

At an age of 49, with almost 20 years of Java Programming experience on my back, it was about time to eventually get certified.
Most of my Java experience is based on the way outdated Java 1.3.1 API, but recently a lot of Android Programming comes on top, so I've been kind of "into Java 7" in advance as well.
My exam preparation mostly consisted of self studying, for which I have used the following books:

OCA: Oracle® Certified Associate Java® SE 8 Programmer I Study Guide Exam 1Z0-808 by Jeanne Boyarsky and Scott Selikoff
Nailing 1Z0-808 Practical Guide to Oracle Java SE8 Programmer I Certification by Igor Soudakevitch
OCA Java SE 8 Programmer I Certification Guide by Mala Gupta
OCP: Oracle® Certified Associate Java® SE 8 Programmer II Study Guide Exam 1Z0-809 by Jeanne Boyarsky and Scott Selikoff
Oracle Certified Professional Java SE 8 Programmer Exam 1Z0-809 A Comprehensive OCPJP 8Certification Guide by S G Ganesh, Hari Kiran, and Tushar Sharma
OCA/OCP Java® SE 8 Programmer Practice Tests by Jeanne Boyarsky and Scott Selikoff

Additionally, I have performed online exam simulations using the Test Banks by Wiley/Sybex which came with Jeanne's books, then Enthuware and Kaplan tests.
Finally, I got the opportunity to participate in a "bootcamp" consisting of a pretty intense Java Exam training together with the two Exams, held by Firebrand in Wyboston/UK (I'm a german citizen) on sunday 14th - sunday 21st October 2018.

Initially I started reading Jeanne's OCA book in 2016 but put it aside after a few weeks due to heavy work load on my current job.
This year in June, my employer decided to give me the opportunity to pay me for a training and the exams on short notice, and there's been no doubt that I'd take that opportunity.
As the course and exams would take place in October, there's been only 16 weeks left for me to prepare for both exams.
I took a look at all my books and figured that I'd stick to Jeanne's and Scott's book series as the main source, which gave me 16 chapters to walk through - that fits perfectly for my 16 week schedule.

OCA wasn't too hard to learn as most of what's being dealt with on OCA is daily business for me.
I finished the 6 chapters within 4 weeks, including 2 weeks summer vacation where I almost didn't do anything for the exams at all.
I've been in the high 80s, low 90s on each chapter's review questions and scored 92% on the assessment test, so I decided to mark OCA "done".
OCP was a much tougher ride as there's quite some new stuff to Java 8, with some of the new stuff being quite complex with lots to learn and to remember.
Some chapters (dates, strings, localization, exceptions, assertions, IO, JDBC) were quick&easy as they were mostly known to me, but others (generics, collections, concurrency, streams) took a lot longer and proved to be a real challange.
Review questions came out accordingly, partly high 70s/low 80s, partly high 80s/low 90s again. Assessment test eventually gave me 80% so I felt reasonably prepared.

In the final weeks prior to the bootcamp I've performed endless mock exams and I think that paid out in the end.
Still I've had my issues with generics, collections, concurrency and streams, so I put my hopes in the bootcamp to get these topics explained in a different way there.

The Firebrand bootcamp was a true challenge, but it was worth every penny spent on it.
We started out with a dozen participants and in the end, after the OCP Exam, I've been the only "survivor", but I won't blame that on Firebrand.
One other participant passed OCA at 68% but failed on OCP, and another one postponed OCA and took it when the two of us did the OCP, he passed OCA with 78%.
All others either failed OCA or didn't take any exam at all as they figured they won't make it in advance.
When I've ordered the Firebrand course, I've read lots of reviews in advance, as it wasn't quite cheap and I didn't want to do no mistake there.
They're quite fair in most respects, for instance those who failed on the exams have a second chance "for free" (only have to pay the exam fee but can retake the course for free), and those who decide not to take the Exam during the course can still attend the course itself, and get a free voucher to take the Exam on a later date.
Firebrand doesn't deny the degree of challange either, for instance there's no doubt in advance that your course will be an exhaustive 12 hour ride per day (well, they don't tell you that you have some "homework" to do on your hotel room after that).

Right before taking the OCA Exam, we've been doing a couple of Kaplan Mock Exams before, and I've been well in the high 90s so I felt pretty good prepared for the Exam.
Well then, with a certain lack of sleep, on wednesday 17th October 2018 it was time to take the OCA Exam, and without trying to show off, after the first 3 questions I knew that this would be a cakewalk.
I got one questions wrong, scoring 98% on the exam. Fun fact is that I've had that question on my review list 3 times and only on the last loop I changed from the right answer to the wrong one. Sh*t happens.

On the following days the pace needed to be stepped up, unfortunately some of us didn't seem to be able to follow anymore.
Once again, not Firebrands fault, and my trainer Mark Lovatt really did a splendid job.
He finally opened my eyes on those OCP topics I didn't fully understand before, and on the day before the Exam I've been up in the 90s in my mock Exams all over.
The only drawback on the whole course was that on thursday I started coming down with a flu, with quite some impact on my powers of concentration.
That might be one reason why I managed to get 3 questions wrong, shame on me. Anyway, 96% isn't too bad of a score for OCP either.
The OCP Exam itself was considerably tougher than OCA, which was to be expected. I've been doing well with my timing and had 40 minutes left when I finished my first run through the questions, with 8 questions being on my review list, so I had plenty of time to think on these 8.
Nevertheless, you must be aware that while you might manage to scratch the 65% with quite some guesswork on OCA, the same thing won't work for OCP: Here you definitely need to know what you're doing, otherwise you'll be lost.

All in all, I must say that these were my best assets on the Exam Preparation, in that order:
  • My trainer Mark Lovatt, a true expert and great teacher.
  • Firebrand training. Worth every penny spent for the bootcamp. Great organization, second to none quality and speed of training.
  • Jeanne's and Scott's book series for the OCA/OCP Exams.
  • Igor Soudakevitch's hints for taking the Exam. Must read!


  • The Questions in Jeanne's books were quite similar in difficulty level, layout and complexity to the Exam ones.
    Enthuware was close but no match IMHO.
    Kaplan tests were rather confusing, as the way of asking questions didn't quite match what you'd see on the Exam, and the difficulty level sometimes just exceeded expectations. I would recommend to pick Kaplan as "last resort" if you've got nothing else to check your skills on elsewhere anymore.

    That's it for now.
    As there's no OCM for Java SE Programmers available, I'm finished with my Java Certification Path now probably.


    Mike
     
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    Now, those are good marks: well done

    And welcome to the Ranch
     
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    Michael,
    Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your experiences. Those are incredible scores!
     
    Enthuware Software Support
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    Wow, great score!
    Congratulations!!
    How much did the training cost if you don't mind me asking?
     
    Michael Stiefler
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    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Michael,
    Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your experiences. Those are incredible scores!


    Thanks Jeanne
    Like a little side story?
    I use to have some kind of background image on my PCs to motivate myself for learning.
    Now on the Firebrand course, of course they've used preconfigured and somewhat "locked down" PCs but on day two of OCA I've been done with some preparation questions in half of the time we've had, so I decided to give it a go and tried to get a custom wallpaper set on the PC in front of me.
    Turned out to be no big deal, and eventually the top image of this page... https://www.selikoff.net/2011/04/12/how-toastmasters-helped-me-present/ ...accompanied me for the rest of the course

    Paul Anilprem wrote:Wow, great score!
    Congratulations!!
    How much did the training cost if you don't mind me asking?


    Thanks Paul.
    I think Firebrand asks you to get in touch with them personally and ask for quotes for a reason and I don't want to destroy their business model, but let me say that if you calculate 1000 EUR per day, including taxes, accomodation, exam fees etc. pp., you should be quite close.
    If we say that officially the course is 7 days long, but actually the "introduction" held on the arrival day's evening is already the first part of the course and counts like half a day, then you're even damn close to what I've paid.


    Mike
     
    Paul Anilprem
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    Thanks for the information, Michael. I was intrigued by your response and so I checked out their website. They indeed do not mention the cost of the training upfront. On one page they say, "Since 2001 we've trained exactly 68.075 students and asked them all to review our Accelerated Learning.".  Very interesting
     
    Michael Stiefler
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    Paul Anilprem wrote:On one page they say, "Since 2001 we've trained exactly 68.075 students and asked them all to review our Accelerated Learning."


    Of course that includes all kind of training/certification courses, not just Java ones, and it summarizes all the training centers they have.
    But it roughly matches their turnover of £12M in 2017.
    As I said, I'm completely satisfied.
    Indeed they ask you to fill out a feedback form, which you can do online as well, however they seem to be slightly sluggish in updating the responses on their own webpage, what you read there is mostly several years old.
    I did leave a feedback a Trustpilot which seemed the most recent list to me: https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.firebrandtraining.co.uk


    Mike
     
    Jeanne Boyarsky
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    Michael Stiefler wrote:

    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Like a little side story?
    I use to have some kind of background image on my PCs to motivate myself for learning.
    Now on the Firebrand course, of course they've used preconfigured and somewhat "locked down" PCs but on day two of OCA I've been done with some preparation questions in half of the time we've had, so I decided to give it a go and tried to get a custom wallpaper set on the PC in front of me.
    Turned out to be no big deal, and eventually the top image of this page... https://www.selikoff.net/2011/04/12/how-toastmasters-helped-me-present/ ...accompanied me for the rest of the course


    That's awesome! Glad I could keep you company!

     
    Michael Stiefler
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    It's been my pleasure

    One more funny incident I forgot to mention about the OCP exam:
    As I've managed to get a cold "just in time" (I've mentioned that), I must have been slightly mentally absent: I forgot to take my glasses with me
    The good thing was that the screens in the test center were rather large and crisp, so I could make my way through nevertheless.


    Mike
     
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    Congrats Mike!. Great score in both exams.
     
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    Michael
    Congratulation those are really great scores  
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    Great score!  Congrats.
     
    Campbell Ritchie
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    PCK, welcome to the Ranch
     
    Purushotham Chikkanayakanhalli Krishnegowda
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    Thank you Ritchie, I had my OCA 1z0-808 on last week of Aug'18.  I scored 98%, a cakewalk!  My OCP 1z0-809 exam is scheduled next week.  Will share my experience soon.👨‍💻
     
    Michael Stiefler
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    98 on OCA, welcome to the Club, great score
    Good luck for your OCP Exam!


    Mike
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