Oracle Certified Associate in practice. Preparing for certification

Published in the Java Developer group
Today I'd like to talk about how I passed my first Oracle certification. Oracle Certified Associate in practice. Preparing for certification - 1

The exam

Oracle Certified Associate Java SE Programmer (1Z0-808) is the first stage of Oracle certification on the path to becoming a professional Java developer. This certification is confirmation that you have basic knowledge of the language. You are given 2.5 hours to complete the exam. It consists of 70 multiple-choice questions. A passing score is 65%. A list of topics can be found on the exam page in the Review Exam Topics tab. The exam costs $150.

Objectives

To be honest, for a long time I couldn't decide whether getting a certificate was even worthwhile. Many people think it is a waste of time because your performance on the tests doesn’t reflect your level of knowledge, but rather your level of preparation for a particular exam. Many people feel there are a bunch of trick questions, where parentheses are used in the code rather than curly braces, so it will not compile. However, I had my own reasons:
  1. It's an opportunity to fill in the gaps in my knowledge, to structure my theoretical foundation, and to put everything in its place.
  2. Becoming a certified professional attracts the attention of recruiters from various companies, and in negotiations, I could use the certificate as grounds for a pay raise.
  3. And, if the employer is going to pay, then why not?

Scheduling and fees

To avoid procrastination and to set some kind of deadline for myself, I decided to pay for the certification right away and scheduled the exam date for 3 weeks out. To do this, you need to find a test center in your city (usually Pearson VUE), register both on their website and on the Oracle website, and then link the accounts. Be careful to enter your personal data correctly, because you can only change it by contacting the customer support service. Once you've registered, you need to choose an exam, a local certification center, and the date and time of the test and make your payment. There are two payment options: through a bill issued by Oracle (how to pay it is unclear and there is an additional 20% commission), or directly through Pearson VUE. It is better to pay through the test center — more convenient and less expensive.

Preparation

To prepare, I used two sources:
  1. The book OCA/OCP Java SE 8 Programmer Practice Tests by Scott Selikoff and Jeanne Boyarsky.

    It contains 450 sample questions and one 80-question multiple-choice practice exam, as well as explanations. For convenience, you can use this website and take the practice exams online. This is super convenient — you can immediately find out whether your answers are correct, read associated explanations, and see general statistics for all tests. I was already familiar with this book. Some information is set aside, and my average score on all the tests was 79%.

    I have mixed feelings about this book: there are lots of typos, a lot of unnecessary trick questions and the questions are generally much easier than on the exam itself. So in your preparations, I wouldn't recommend limiting yourself to this book.

  2. Training from Enthuware.

    It's $10 for a semi-annual subscription to the web version as well as the unlimited desktop version.

    The preparation available here is about the same as with the book mentioned in the first paragraph: 600+ questions along with explanations. But the questions here don't include mistakes. Each question has several possible answers, and there are explanations for each question at the end of the book.

    And it's really worth it. The questions in the mock tests turned out to be, if not a perfect match, then the most similar to the questions on the real exam. So I highly recommend spending the $10 and gaining access to this great training resource. Here my average score on the tests was 69%.

Passing the exam

On the chosen day, you should arrive at the certification center 20 minutes before the exam. It is important to note that you must bring two forms of identification with you. I missed this point, but luckily in addition to my driver's license, I had my passport in my jacket pocket. Why this is required, I still do not understand, but still, it is worth keeping in mind. After you fill out all the forms, you will be asked to empty your pockets of their contents (IDs, keys, watches, bank cards, checks, and everything else). Then they will lead you to your computer. The exam is recorded on video. They give you a laminated sheet and a marker that you can use to take some notes. The exam proved to be difficult. As I prepared, I read repeatedly that the Enthuware tests are more difficult than the actual exam, and since I failed only one of eight practice exams from Enthuware, I arrived with complete confidence that I would pass. In fact, I can't say that the questions were easier. They were similar, but definitely not easier. Also, there wasn't a single trick question. I passed the exam with a score of 81%. They informed me of my score immediately upon completing the exam. Within 30 minutes, I received the results via email, and within 48 hours, I received the certificate itself in electronic form. The results include a list of topics where you made mistakes. By the way, here's what the certificate itself looks like:Oracle Certified Associate in practice. Preparing for certification - 2In the end, I can say that I don't regret the time I spent to achieve the certification. There were many interesting test questions, and the topics covered (specifically in this exam) are things used in everyday work. I earned the designation of a certified specialist, but most importantly, I strengthened my knowledge.Oracle Certified Associate in practice. Preparing for certification - 3
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