Omar Al Kababji  Weird Thoughts From a Weird Mind...

In the dates 08/2008 & 06/2009 I prepared and obtained some Java certifications, I got the Sun Certified Java Programmer (SCJP), the Sun Certified Web Components Developer (SCWCD), and finally the Sun Certified Business Components Developer (SCBCD). In this post I will talk about this experience and how I prepared for these exams.

Why Should I get certified?
This is an important question that you have to answer. For me getting a certification was important for two reasons:

     1. Its a paper proof for recruiters that you know the technology.
     2. You will gain a deeper understanding in the technology.

The most important is the first point, the IT market is full of competition, if you want to find a good job you have to show that you are better than others, and certifications help doing so. To apply for a job you normally send your CV to recruiters, which in turn filter good CVs from not that good CVs based only on what they see in your CV, your goal is to get your CV pass this filtering process and get called for an interview (where you will show them how you Rock).

Keep in mind that even if you have a certification it doesn’t mean you master that certification technology, working experience is important too. In the end Sun Microsystems will not make passing a certification exam impossible, this is business and if nobody is going to pass certification exams Sun will not sell exam vouchers. So keep in mind that having a certification is good, but not having a certification doesn’t mean you are not good. Bottom line: experience beat certification but certification is a plus.

SCJP Preparation
This is the first serious certification exam provided from Sun Microsystems, actually you can take another exam before SCJP named Sun Certified Java Associate (SCJA) in which you will get questions like:

     Q1. Java is a _______________ language. (A)Procedural, (B)Object Oriented, (C)Query.

So get started from SCJP and leave SCJA for marketing people that want to show their colleagues they know Java. Now lets get prepared for the SCJP exam.

Read the SCJP exam objectives
It’s very important to know what are the exam objectives in order to know what to study, and what not to study.
Study Book
The Best book is the Sun Certified Programmer for Java 5 by Katherine Sierra & Bert Bates known as K&B, this is the only book you will need to pass the exam, don’t waste your time reading from other books. The book is well structured, and provides a group of mock questions at the end of each chapter that will help you better understand the concepts. I read this book twice and I felt almost ready for the exam. (WAIT!! you need to do other stuff). 

Note: When I did the exam it was for Java 5, however future versions of Java will be available for sure, so you may find the same book for Java 6 (or even Java 11g. Will Oracle name the next version of Java like this?).

Mockup Questions
Its is very important to exercise on mock questions, I found the java inquisition exam simulator very helpful. It seems that inquisition questions are a bit tougher than the real exam, so if you score 70% in inquisition you will for sure pass the real exam (unless you got the 70% by luck). In addition the following links contain some useful questions:

   Java Beat
   Java Ranch Mock Questions 

You Don’t Understand Some Stuff?
If during your study you have some questions and need answers, visit the Java ranch forum, subscribe and post your questions there, you well get almost immediate feedback, they will help you a lot, I may answer some of your questions too ;-)

How Much Time Will I Need?
I hate this question, but its always asked. The answer is IT DEPENDS on you, if you have a good experience in Java and you are a fast learning guy you could prepare for the exam in 1 week, you may even pass the exam without studying if you are really good in Java (but do you have to Risk?). 

My suggestion is to read the entire K&B book provided above, and do the mock questions after each chapter, and based on your results decide wether you are ready or not.

How to Buy the Exam and Schedule it?
I recommend visiting the SCJP FAQ page in the Java Ranch, you will find many useful information about how to buy the exam voucher, schedule the exam with a prometric center, in addition to a group of links to online mock questions, and other SCJP experiences and success stories.

One final thing, if you search on the internet you will read a lot of successful stories about people who got certified, you will read that John studied 3 days only and got 100%, Mary studied 2 months, half an hour a day and got 98%, yes it is possible but keep in mind that people tend to share their success stories and hide their failures, reading a lot of successful stories around doesn’t mean that everyone passes the exam. You have to prepare well and do your best. 

Wish you Good Luck, in your own preparation.

Next: The Road to Java Certification 2

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