Ok, so I had this new year’s resolution that I would complete three certifications, among which the most challenging seemed to be the Oracle Certified Master – Java Enterprise Architect exam. Some weeks ago I took the exam (perhaps you know that the exam has three parts: a theoretical test, an assignment and defending the architecture created in part 2) and passed it with 84%. I thought I would share my experiences. Here we go (but before that – all the information here relates to the version 5 of the exam. Version 6 was only a beta with no study guide when I started preparing):
First of all, it took me two months to get ready for part 1 (multiple choice test). I have to say, I have no experience as an architect, I have several years of programming experience with the technologies the exam is based on, however. Those things presented in the study guides were familiar to me from the progremmer’s perspective, I just had to go ahead and look at them from another perspective.
My first and biggest surprise was the study guide(s) itself. There is no such thing as ONE BOOK, like in the case of OCPJP; there are SEVERAL books/articles/booklets one should read. In my case these were as follows:
- Sun Certified Enterprise Architect for Java™ EE Study Guide by Mark Cade and Humphrey Sheil. This is the number one information source for the exam. It does not contain enough technical details, but one can get a nice overview of the exam topics. It has also got some exam-like questions after each chapter, so you can get a flavor of the exam. Not a very thick book, ~200 pages in total.
- Sun Certified Enterprise Architect for J2EE™ Technology Study Guide by Mark Cade and Simon Roberts. This one is a bit old, published in 2003 – if I’m not mistaken. It is very similar to the one above, but several topics (like security) are presented in more detail. It is not a very long book either, comes with some extra test questions but also with some really outdated information (e.g. the exam covers JPA instead of entity beans). It is worth a shallow read-through.
- Core J2EE Patterns by Deepak Alur, John Crupi and Dan Malks. I did not read the entire book, I focused on the patterns mentioned in the Study Guide. Some patterns are out of date by now, but anyway, there are several questions about them at the exam.
- Wikipedia articles about GoF patterns. There is a good load of questions on good old design patterns. The most common quetion type is when you are presented a particular situation, and asked which design pattern can help you solve it. You should make sure to know all the patterns, what they are good for and when can they be applied. It seemed to me that GoF design patterns were the most frequent type of questions.
- Optional – Head first Design Patterns. This one is not a must at all, but comes in handy when you’re in doubt. It’s got very nice examples (thoroughly explained); you can get some real deep knowledge reading it. Watch out, though, it does not discuss all the patterns!
I was not training very hard for the exam, I was reading for at most 2 hours a day, including self-check tests. I completed my first mock exam as soon as I was done reading all the material. I did not want to acquire information from mock test answers, but from checked, hundred percent bulletproof sources. By the way, it is not trivial to find mock tests on the Internet, after all. Here is a list of sources I was looking into, it may be helpful. Again, some of these are out of date from the technological point of view, but are still valid when it comes to patterns, applicability of EJBs, n-tier architectures etc.
- http://reddymails.blogspot.hu/2011/07/scea-part1-questions.html 230+ up to date questions (again, up to date for version 5). Make sure to scroll slowly, so you won’t accidentally see the correct answer.
- https://sites.google.com/site/sureshdevang/scea-part-1-mock-questions-and-ans 67 up to date questions. Try doing them at once, like you are on the exam.
- http://www.javabeat.net/cert/scea/mock-exam/ enormous amount of questions. Some of them are really out of date, but it is still a nice source for getting ready.
The exam itself is not any different from the questions presented; some of them may even seem similar, provided that you went through all the mocks above. I had no darg’n’drop questions at all at the exam, the distribution of multiple choice/single choice questions was around 50-50%. The good thing about this exam is that there are no tricky questions, they don’t try to fool you lik in case of OCPJP. However, the correct answer to a qeustion may seem particularly subjective.
All the best, and have a successful preparation.