I haven't yet passed any portion of the Architect exam, although I am planning to register for Part I the first week of March.
I have passed the Programmer's exam a few months ago and am about to submit my Developer's exam project.
I worked with Java very briefly right after 1.0 was released, mainly doing some web applets for a couple of months. After that I moved away from Java and did primarily web thin-client work, with a little VB, perl, and C/C++ for a few years.
Eight months ago I started working with J2 again, doing some very intensive projects using RMI and also JSP/XML/Servlets.
For the most part, I found my "real-world" experience far more useful than book study. That said, I would not neglect book study, but I would use it to complement real-world coding.