How I studied for the Sun Certified Java Programmer [SCJP] 6 Exam

Including an inline review of two SCJP study guides.

Disclaimer: This is not a guide to passing the test with zero experience and no preparation. The SCJP exam will quickly expose lack of working knowledge. I have roughly 15 years of experience with programming in C and derivative languages, including about 1 year of Java 1.1 through 1.5 and about 2 years of experience with C++.


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Week 1:

Week 2:

Week 3:

  • Took the “self test” questions at the end of every section of the SCJP 6 book. Got only 51% correct.
  • Hand wrote the answers or a fuller explanation of the answers for every question I got wrong.
  • Took the Programmer’s Guide mock exam. When I checked the answers, I noticed that the questions would say something like “select the 2 correct answers” and the answers would give 3 answers, or vice versa. Once I realized how bad the editing was on this book, I stopped using it.
  • Re-took the “self test” questions at the end of every section of the SCJP 6 book. Got only 88% correct. This time, I read through the answer explanations for the incorrect answers, and then re-read the “Two Minute Drill” sections for my two worst sections.

I believe that the SCJP 6 helped me because the format of the questions [choose all that apply] was ultimately harder than the format of the actual certification test questions. The Programmer’s Guide “mock test” format was closer to the actual test format, but I spent way too much time reconciling the test answers and test questions for it to be useful.

Other factors and more detail that you may not care about:

I had the opportunity through to take a class [June 7-June 11 2010] to become certified as a Sun Certified Java Programmer for Version 5. The book used in the class was [SCJP 5 study guide]. At the end of the class, we were presented with the option of registering for either the SCJP version 5 or SCJP version 6 exam by the end of June 2010. I took the risk that I could study the gaps between the Java 5 and Java 6 and pass the SCJP version 6 exam. Little did I realize that the studying effort would be a little more challenging than I first thought.

I had originally read through the Java 1.5 Tiger: A Developer’s Notebook (Java 5,Version 1.5) when Java 1.5 was brand new [5 years ago]. Since then, I have done a small amount of maintenance programming, which got me familiar with a few of the advanced concepts. In addition, the concept of generics was familiar as C++ templates and I have my basic computer science engineering classes from 16 years ago as a foundation for it all.

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