I passed the SCJP last friday, doing even better than I expected I would. I read this forum a lot, using other people's posts to build my confidence and focus my study, so I feel it's my turn to return the favor.
First: what I used to prepare:
I learned a good amount of the Java language in the classroom (I am a Computer Science student and it was the language used in the first programming course), so I am used to test questions about finding syntax errors in some short code. As for actual real-world programming experience, however, I have very little outside the few homework assigments from that course.
To learn the material I used RHE and Exam Cram simultaneously (RHE to learn a chapter each day, Exam Cram to reinforce that chapter the next). After I finished both books, I spent about 2 weeks doing at least 1-2 practice tests per day:
JQ+: Extremely useful. I did the 9 included practice exams, my scores ranged from about a 63 to an 85, so it would seem their claim that the tests are harder than the actual exam holds true. Worth the $20 and then some!
Marcus Green's Exams: Everybody says how great these are. Everybody's right. Marcus, I know you read these posts. Thank you! (As everyone else says, these seem to be the best indicators of how you do on the actual test. I got a 78, 82 and 82 on exams 1, 2 and 3 respectively)
The test breakdown:
Based on the number of questions I know I got wrong, I can say exactly (I think) the number of questions I had in 3 of the sections:
Language Fundamentals: 9 questions
Overloading, Overriding, Runtime Type and Object Orientations: 7 questions
Threads: 7 questions
One complaint I've got about the test: The grades are rounded down! I'm too used to a school where .5 and higher gets rounded up, I guess. A shame, though...53 out of 59 is an 89.8. I'm sure everyone else who gets that grade, like myself would've loved the 90. Oh well, I'm thrilled that I passed, and I think I'm going to try and get SCWCD done in the next 3 weeks or so before I start school again.
Thanks a lot to everyone who posted encouraging messages about their own passing in the last few weeks! Sorry if this message ran on a bit too long.