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Kai Wähner (Twitter: @KaiWaehner, Blog: www.kai-waehner.de/blog) is an IT-Consultant in the Java EE, SOA, Cloud Computing and Big Data world. In his real life, he lives in Erlangen, Germany and works for TIBCO (www.tibco.com). Besides solving huge integration problems for large companies, Kai writes articles for magazines and speaks at international IT conferences such as JavaOne. Feel free to contact him via Twitter, LinkedIn or Email. Kai is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 52 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Hints On How to Pass the Sun (now Oracle) Certified Java Programmer (SCJP 6)

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I already passed the test for “Sun Certified Java Programmer (SCJP 6)” with 83 percent after a lot of time-consuming preparation. Here are my experiences about doing the certification and the hints I can give you. Although now, the name has changed to Oracle Certified Professional, Java SE 6/SE 5 Programmer, I am sure the following information will help you.

What should you keep in mind before starting your preparation for the exam?

  • The preparation is a lot more time-consuming than I thought, also for experienced Java developers.
  • You really improve your programming skills a lot (As many other people, I doubted this fact when I started learning for the exam and looking at these tricky, non-practical code snippets).
  • You should do the preparation and test in English language – almost no good non-English resources are available. At least, I can speak for the German language.
  • Do not care about the score. Personally, I also do not care  – I just wanted to pass the exam. But I was prepared very well and some wrong answers happened only because some questions are not clear in my opinion. E.g. the questions about encapsulation, coupling, inheritance and cohesion are not clear – sometimes several answer look correct to me.

My (bad) experiences with the “Prometric Test Center”

  • There are plenty of test centers worldwide. You can choose the date and time very flexible, it is no problem to book only one day before an exam.
  • There is no quality assurance for the registered test centers. “My” test center was awkward: A lot of noise, a defect lamp, a very bad display. Next time, I will choose another one. If you can, ask some colleagues for their experiences in your area.

    The time (3 hours for 60 questions) started when you had to read the license where you have to confirm with yes.  So I think nobody reads the license because it has many pages…
  • I had no technical problems with drag and drop questions (as I have read from some other guys).
  • I registered directly at Prometric for the test. I did NOT get an invoice with my company’s name! So there are huge problems to get the money back from my company, because they need an invoice with their company’s address on it.

I contacted Prometric, and I got the following answer: “Please be informed that Prometric does not send out invoices in a company name. The file is in the candidate name and therefore the receipt is always addressed to the candidate.”


Which resources should you use to prepare for the exam?

In my opinion, the following three resources are sufficient (and also there is no good alternative):

  • The book “SCJP Sun Certified Programmer for Java 6 Study Guide” (Author: Kathy Sierra): This book explains every important fact for the exam. It also contains some realistic Q&A and two full mock exams.
  • SCJP forum at www.coderanch.com: I got an answer to each question within twelve hours. Great!
  • ExamLab: Some (very tough) mock exams, for free. I think you need to do some of these because the ones included by the above book do not contain all pitfalls. Beware: These mock questions are very tough! If you can reach 50 percent here, you will probably pass the real exam.

I propose every Java developer to do the exam,  but if you have time to prepare only after work or at the weekend, plan at least six months for it.

In 2011 or 2012 I plan to make the SCEA, which will probably be a lot more work.

If you have any comments about my experiences, let me know…

Best regards,
Kai Wähner (Twitter: @KaiWaehner)

[Content from my Blog: Hints on how to pass the Sun (now Oracle) Certified Java Programmer (SCJP 6) - Kai Wähner's IT-Blog]

Published at DZone with permission of Kai Wähner, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Eric Giese replied on Tue, 2010/12/14 - 5:39am

I've done the test as well about 2 months ago with 95% (in Germany as well) and like to add a few things you'll learn during the exam:

- You really learn how bad Java is and how many completely useless concepts live in the language which no programmer would ever need or use, say: named blocks. Its still a structural in the tradition of c, and not a pure object oriented language.

- They should rename into to "Sun Certified Java Compiler" (JCJC). You have to learn how to compile, not how to write good code. For example: Which real programmer needs to know all clunky methods of the Java Formatter? I'll rather google this.

- Too much about syntax, too little about writing typesafe code. Esp. the "official learning book by the makers of the exam" seems to have a very I'd like to say "subjective" View of programming. I'd rather spend my time reading Java Best Practices than this one to learn how to do my job.

Anyway, all my critisms aside: I think its a good thing that sun/oracle tries to make tests which are more challenging then the average IBM WebSphere "certificate".



Kai Wähner replied on Tue, 2010/12/14 - 6:37am in response to: Eric Giese

I think that Java is not that bad, because you do NOT have to use these bad concepts (and most people of course really do not use them). But I agree with your other arguments about the SCJP.


Best regards,

Kai Wähner (Twitter: @KaiWaehner)

Ben Hills replied on Tue, 2010/12/14 - 7:38am

I'll second the choice of the "SCJP Sun Certified Programmer for Java 6 Study Guide" book - It's well written, the tests at the end of each section are very useful and it really helped my in preparation for the exam. 

Phip Pay replied on Tue, 2010/12/14 - 10:05am

Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates just released another book "OCP Java SE 6 Programmer Practice Exams" which is 448 pages of exam questions. 

I am studying with the other book (same authors) mentioned by Kai, which is highly readable considering the material.  However, I haven't taken the test yet, so my opinions have yet to be validated.




Andrew Spencer replied on Thu, 2010/12/16 - 6:58am

Yes the Study Guide book is very good, readable and helps keep the material (which is, frankly, pretty dull in parts) alive.  I used it to pass the certification (1.5 version) and have tutored a few others with it too.  I like that the sample questions are realistic, but slightly harder than the ones on the real exam.

I think all Java programmers should be obliged to study most of the chapters, even if they never take the exam.  You do indeed learn some surprising and salutary lessons, one of which is that you knew a lot less than you thought you did.

 Personally I think exams are pointless; what counts is studying, and while exams can help motivate you to study, they also warp the study process because they make you aim at passing the exam, not at being a better programmer, and the two are not quite the same...

Pandu0134u Camel replied on Thu, 2011/01/20 - 8:41am

which is good for all

Daiseru Mason replied on Thu, 2012/08/23 - 12:50am

Pretty cool, and best guide for those starting to learning this process.

Daiseru of how to name a company

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