11 January 2006
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I took and passed the Sun Certified Java Programmers Exam in September 1998. This documents concentrates on the JDK1.5 Programmers Certification. You can read my faq about earlier versions of the exam at http://www.jchq.net/faq/jcertfaq.htm
Being certified will demonstrate to employers a minimum level of knowledge of the Java language. It will also concentrate your mind on the fundamentals of the language. With the proliferation of GUI based tools it is possible to create good looking Java applications without understanding what is going on "under the hood". It doesn't try to cover all of the Java technologies. You can become certified an still know nothing about JavaBeans, EJB, or servelets. On its own being certified will almost certainly not get you a job, but when deciding between two otherwise identical candidates, certification may give you the edge.
At the time of writing most learning material is aimed at the JDK 1.4 version of the exam. This means it is probably easier to study for and pass that exam. However although the certifications do not officially “expire” it may be more useful to your own knowledge to study for the current version aimed at the JDK1.5.
The exam costs US$150 in the USA and is approximatly proportionally priced in other parts of the world. You can buy a voucher on line which is valid for one year. To buy the voucher in the US go to http://www.sun.com/training/catalog/courses/CX-310-055.xml
For approximatly US$2,000 Sun offer a course called Java Sun CAP for OO Programmers Preparing to Become a Sun Certified Programmer
If you read between the lines of the course description you will see that it is more a general Java programming course than a narrow certification course. For example it covers GUI and networking programming.
The good thing about online/web courses is that you can work in your own time at your own pace and with a good course you get email or online chat access to real live tutors. http://www.whizlabs.com/online-training.html
At the time of writing there are only two books available specifically aimed at the JDK 1.5 version of the exam. These are my own TigerTamer for Java 5 (http://www.examulator.com/tamer) and the updated version of the Roberts and Heller Certification book. ISBN: 0782144195 http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0782144195/examulator-20. You might like to look at the well reviewed certification book by Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates Certification book (ISBN: 0072253606) which can be found at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0072253606/examulator-20
Creating accurate mock exams with questions that reflect the topics and difficulty of the real thing is a very time consuming task (I have spent 5 years working on this so I should know). So for the very best mock exams it is generally worth paying a little money. However there are also some very good freely available mock exams on the web for the JDK1.4 objectivesbut at the time of writing the very few are avialable aimed at the JDK1.5 objectives. You can see my own 60 sample questions available at
http://www.examulator.com/phezam. I also highly recommend the 11 questions available from Sierra and Bates at http://www.wickedlysmart.com/SCJPStudyGuide/Java_5_SCJPquestions.html
Please email me at marcusavgreen at gmail.com if you are aware of any free mock exams aimed at the JDK 1.5 objectives. If you are up to paying $75 for 180 days access then Sun offer the following
Exams are usually taken at the offices of training organisations that have a relationship with the company Sylvan Prometric. Sylvan Prometric is the organisation that administers the Novell and Microsoft certifications. Contact Sylvan Prometric for exam sites or check out their exam centre locator on their web site at http://www.prometric.com.
No, you need to contact Sun, pay for the exam and they will send you a voucher. This will come as a letter and attached to it is the voucher, which is a slip of paper printed with the magic serial number. You then contact Sylvian, quote the number and tell them where you want to take the exam. You negotiate the available time and book the exam. Be aware that the exam has an expiration date of 12 months from the date of issue. I got mine "free" with the Sun course and it had expired before I took the exam. They sent me a new one for free however
I'm not sure how long it takes before they can be seen online, I suspect the delay is measured in weeks rather than days. You will need your sylvan testing Id which you will find somewhere in your paper work. The URL for the database is https://www.galton.com/~sun_s/login.html.
The exam consists of around 72 questions. You have 175 minutes (just under 3 hours) to answer them. Most people do not find that time is a problem and you will probably finish with time to spare. It is not one of those tricky adaptive exams that concentrates on the stuff you don't know. The question will tell you how many options you need to select. If more than one option is required you must select all correct options to get any credit for the question. Around 20% of the questions are of the “drag and drop” type where you drag an option into code to complete it.
The pass score is 59% or 43 out of 72 questions
Almost immediately. Once you have decided you have answered all the questions to the best of your ability, or run out of time, you click the mark (or is it finish) button. The machine whirrs for about 15 (very long) seconds and then pops up a message either offering congratulations on passing or informs you have not passed. It then prints out a sheet giving a breakdown on how well you fared on different sections. Thus you might get 100% on language fundamentals but 0% on Threading. The only thing that really matters is getting 59% or more overall.
About a month after passing you get a certificate and badge from Sun. The Certificate does not show your pass grade so if you only pass by one mark nobody but you needs to know. I have a picture of the badge http://www.jchq.net/faq/badge.htm. You also get some artwork with an agreement on how it can be used. The agreement essentially says that the logo should not be used to imply you represent Sun Microsystems and cannot be the dominant component of the item it is used on.
Yes you probably will. The exam asks all sorts of tricky questions that you might not consider in the real world and may not know the answer to. Thus a question may take the form of
"If you were to write this particularly stupid piece of code you would never dream or need to write, what would be the output."
This side of the certification can put some people off.
No, it is neither easy nor trivial. It doesn't in any way prove you are a capable Java programmer but it does prove you know the essentials of the language. You may see forums posts where people claim that passing is easy and they did all their study in 7 days/7 minutes and pass with a good score. They are either very smart and experienced or lying. Passing the exam is not easy, but it's not rocket science either. If you are motivated and spend the time to study most people can pass.
The exam is run on a Windows Computer and is mainly multiple choice but about 20% of the questions are of the “drag and drop” type . The mulitple choice questions take the form of either radio buttons with only one correct answer or check boxes with one or more correct answers. The JDK1.5 version of the exam does not include any “type in code” questions. The exam software is very helpful and it allows you to mark a question that you have a doubt about and go back and review the questions.
Marking a questions for review has no effect on how the question is scored, it is purely for user convenience. Once you are happy with all of your answers you then press the button to say you are finished. Only at that point are your questions considered final. Once the exam has started you must stay in the exam room. You should be provided with a pen/pencil and scrap paper for the exam. These can be useful for working out questions related to LayoutManager questions. Be aware that if you get a computer monitor with a small screen you may have to scroll up and down to see all of the question. Each question will inform you of how many options are correct.
Human beings are meaning driven creatures. The secret of life is to find meaning.
Copyright © 2005 , Marcus Green. Permission to copy all or part of this work is granted for individual use, and for copies within a scholastic or academic setting. Copies may not be made or distributed for resale. The no warranty, and copyright notice must be retained verbatim and be displayed conspicuously. You need written authorization before you can include this FAQ in a book and/or a CDROM archive. If anyone needs other permissions that aren't covered by the above, please contact the author. I will not be restrictive in granting permission.
This work is provided on an "as is" basis. The copyright holder makes no warranty whatsoever, either express or implied, regarding the work, including warranties with respect to merchantability or fitness for any purpose. If you don't like it, then don't eat it.
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