Oracle Certified Associate and Professional, Java SE 7 Programmer

This certification was one of the first exams I was considering after I was done with my college courses regarding Java and object-oriented programming. This was a time when I started working in programming and sort of needed to improve my rather basic knowledge in this area. However, it took me almost two years to make a decision to go for it (meaning the change to Java SE 7 and also revamp of the certification path by Oracle). This had both positive and negative effects. Upsides include more recent language knowledge being tested as well as a great way to prepare for both the certification and my thesis. On the other hand, the older SCJP exam for Java 6 was split into two exams increasing the overall price and also covered far more ground because of the additions in Java 7 release.
 

About certification

Lets start with basic description of both exams. None of these exams requires any training, course or additional activity other than taking the exam itself. Based on lists of topic for each exam and also my experience, these exams do not overlap when it comes to areas being tested. However, you might get question testing also some objective from OCAJP, so remember that OCPJP expects you to know stuff from OCAJP and will use examples including syntax covered there. Exam is administered at the test center of your choosing using standard Oracle/PEARSON VUE testing software. When it comes to ordering and taking these exams it is pretty automated process and there were no problems at all. Following table presents the most important information regarding both exams.

Basic information
Associate (OCAJP 7)Professional (OCPJP 7)Upgrade (OCPJP 7)
Exam Number1Z0-8031Z0-8041Z0-805
Prerequisitesnone1Z0-803SCJP 6.0 (by Sun as CX-310-065)
Exam Topicsassociate topicsprofessional topicsupgrade topics
Exam formatMultiple ChoiceMultiple ChoiceMultiple Choice
Duration150 minutes150 minutes150 minutes
Number of Questions909080
Passing Score63% (57 questions)65% (59 questions)60% (48 questions)
PriceUS$ 245US$ 245US$ 245

 
* There is possibility that you may have seen different passing score for OCAJP 7 exam. It was caused by few changes made in this exam and these are the official values as of writing this post.

There is an upgrade exam for those of you that already own SCJP 6 certification. This exam should test your knowledge in areas missing in SCJP 6 and if you pass it, you will earn OCPJP 7 certificate. If you are new to this and have no experience with testing process it might come as a surprise to you – conditions during exam are pretty strict. You are going to be recorded by several cameras. Another regulation prohibits any items other than ID card and pen with blank sheet given to you by test center representative. Quality of test centers varies widely so be sure to ask people who have been already tested for their opinions and advice.

The exam

Both exams share 150 minutes to complete a set of 90 questions. All questions I have encountered in both exams were in form of either select correct answer or choose all that apply. Even though some people mentioned drag-and-drop questions in the exam, neither me nor me colleagues have seen any. When it comes to questions, please be careful. As always, read the question carefully and if in doubt go word for word until you get the point.

OCAJP 7 has pretty evenly distributed questions throughout the exam objectives. However, OCPJP 7 exam presented a little twist in form of ever-present threads. I’m not saying every question included threads but the most of the questions did. Another thing that made this exam more interesting were questions regarding patterns and design principles. You have to be able to identify good and bad design (loose/tight coupling, high/low cohesion, …) and also be able to tell which is true regarding given example.

The aspect of time and comfort during the exam changes drastically when you move on to OCPJP 7. Let me give an example from my exams. OCAJP 7 exam took me about an hour to complete and I took another hour to thoroughly check all of my answers. After doing so, I decided to turn the test in early since I felt there was nothing more to do (please note that this was the case in 2012 when I took the exam). However, when i was doing OCPJP 7 exam, it took me almost whole 150 minutes to complete, leaving me with time to check 4 first questions! Having said that, please, don’t get stuck on one question too long (unless you are a skilled veteran). You can always mark a question for review and come back to it after you are done with all the questions you can answer without further analysis. In case of OCPJP 7, getting stuck on few question can cause you some unanswered questions, so manage your time carefully. The complexity of questions raised dramatically and you need to take that into account during your preparation.

Preparation

OCAJP 7

My primary resource for this exam was so-called K&B 6 book (check out resources below). As you might have noticed this book was published for Java 6 so it is missing all additions in Java 7 – mainly project Coin (syntax changes), new frameworks for concurrency and IO as well as other improvements. However, the style of this book is suited for beginners and will prepare you for the exam in its respected areas. I spent several weeks preparing due to the length of this book and my workload at the time. This combined with a handful of mock tests, self studying of project Coin and playing around with code was enough to prepare me for the exam.

OCPJP 7

In case of  OCPJP 7, I didn’t bet on a single book because K&B 6 covered only topics relevant to Java 6 and based on reviews and titles available at the time of the purchase, I decided to go with Oracle Certified Professional Java SE 7 Programmer Exams 1Z0-804 and 1Z0-805: A Comprehensive OCPJP 7 Certification Guide. These two books provided enough ground for me to start playing around with code. After 4 or 5 weeks I started with Enthuwares Lab and took the exam on 7th week. Unlike OCAJP 7, this exam really requires some coding experience due to parts that do not test your knowledge of code structure, compilation or program behavior. So keep in mind – best way to prepare for both exams is to code.

Helpful notes from fellow bloggers:

OCAJP 7

OCPJP 7

Resources

Books

OCAJP 7

  • SCJP Sun Certified Programmer for Java 6 Exam 310-065 by Bert Bates and Katherine Sierra (known as K&B book)
    • Really great book, especially for beginners. The only downside is when you already know enough about certain topics reading becomes too long and kind of boring (since the book is suitable even for people learning Java). However, it is really good resource for anyone and it might even present information you have no idea are true about Java and compilation. Book also contains a handful of mock questions and whole tests. I was able to complete my preparation for OCAJP 7 almost solely using this book. The only downside of it is the fact, that it was written for Java 6 and does not incorporate syntax changes introduced in Java 7 like try-with-resources, strings in switch, multi-catch, exception rethrow and others. One of the authors published summary of topics covered by the book. You might also consider getting newer version OCA/OCP Java SE 7 Programmer I & II Study Guide.
  • OCP Java SE 6 Programmer Practice Exams by Bert Bates and Katherine Sierra
    • You might find yourself in doubt whether you are ready for the exam – you can check out this book from the same duo as previous one. However test do include topics now in OCPJP 7 so bare that in mind. I tried several of those test and I can recommend this book as well. It complements the first one pretty well. With these two at hand you have pretty solid foundation for your exam preparations.

OCPJP 7

  • Oracle Certified Professional Java SE 7 Programmer Exams 1Z0-804 and 1Z0-805: A Comprehensive OCPJP 7 Certification Guide by S.G.Ganesh andTushar Sharma
    • When I started preparing for OCPJP 7 there have not been so many books or guides. One of the available at the time was this guide. Having read it, I can say it explained exam objectives pretty clearly with nice examples. It is shorter than K&B and more focused. This means it is not targeted at beginners any more and expects knowledge of concepts from OCAJP 7. One thing I really liked were all the examples throughout the book, especially in the area of concurrency and threads. In spite of a few grammatical errors, I can recommend this book since I used it as my primary resource.
  • Pro Java 7 NIO.2 by Anghel Leonard
    • This book is not directly related to the certification, but I happened to read it during my thesis preparations. It is safe to say, that this book covers NIO.2 objectives quite nicely, but its scope is way broader than what is required for the exam. But it served me well, so I decided to include it in this list.

Labs

OCAJP 7

  • None

OCPJP 7

  • Enthuware Labs for Oracle Certified Professional – Java SE 7 Programmer Exam
    • There are several companies producing labs with mock tests. Based on reviews online I decided to try out Enthuwares lab. The lab itself works well, you can track your progress, focus exam areas, benchmark your time and the usual stuff you would expect of this kind of software. All questions are marked based on their difficulty and this markup can be hidden in the settings. I found questions marked very easy and easy not worth my time, so I did not bother with these. The higher difficulties provide interesting questions and the opportunity to solidify your knowledge in respected areas. I would say it is a good product for the price.

My own

The last thing, I am going to highlight are some of my articles, that you may find useful.

OCAJP 7

None so far.

OCPJP 7

  • Beauty and strangeness of generics
    • Short article about almost all gotchas present on OCPJP 7 (except interoperability between pre-generic and current collection code) regarding generics.
  • NIO.2 series
    • (Ongoing) Series of posts going into more detail than required on the actual exam. However, you will gain solid knowledge in covered areas.

Certificate

Oracle uses its Oracle University CertView application to manage your interaction with them so if you have not registered there yet, you will have to. When you are all done and received confirmation emails from Oracle, you should be able to see similar table in your CertView profile under Review My Exam History and Exam Results.

Oracle Exam Status
Test Start DateExam NumberExam TitleGrade IndicatorScore Report
04-MAR-141Z0-804Java SE 7 programmer IIPASSView (link)
12-SEP-121Z0-803Java SE 7 programmer IPASSView (link)

 
You will be asked to fill in the address where a hard copy will be sent (you are not required to do this). In my experience it took one or two weeks to get the mail. PDF version is always available in CertView under Review My Certification History. Envelope contains the certificate along with card that proves your accomplishment (but I have not yet found any application for it).

Oracle card

Oracle card

 

The last thing that you are entitled to is using Oracle Certified Associate and Professional logos. They will be available in CertView so you can download them and use them in your CV or on your web page. This is my first time using them and they look as follows:

Oracle Certified Associate Java SE 7 Programmer logo

Oracle Certified Associate Java SE 7 Programmer logo

 

Oracle Certified Professional Java SE 7 Programmer logo

Oracle Certified Professional Java SE 7 Programmer logo

 

Conclusion

Well, it was rather long way (as you might have noticed, it took me something more than two and a half-year to complete these) but also rewarding. Preparation for these exams is a long journey that offers a lot new insights on Java and the compiler. It is quite possible that you will develop certain love-hate relationship with the compiler itself (and will be able to replace it in many cases!). However, there were many areas I only new from my college years that needed improvements since I wasn’t using them for my work. After all the studies and playing around with little code snippets could honestly feel improvements in certain areas. You might learn things that will allow you to produce fewer lines of code, more readable and easily understandable code. And this is why I would recommend these exams to you – your general understanding of the code will increase (among other positive things). Only down side is rather big scope of the exam and time requirements for preparation. All in all, great learning experience and great way to discuss things you do and like with your friends and colleagues. So if you are considering these exams I would invite you to try them and wish you best of luck on your way of becoming Oracle Certified Professional.

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4 Responses to "Oracle Certified Associate and Professional, Java SE 7 Programmer"

  1. ASHOK says:

    Nice article. At the same time, I cannot figure out the certification process of J2EE. Can you help us to understand the certification exams hierarchy?

  2. Hi Ashok, thanks for the comment. I have not had a chance to attempt any of the J2EE certifications and there have been some changes in the process when Java 7 came out, so I would recommend you to contact your local test center or Oracle support.

  3. Rox says:

    Hi Jakub, Ashok,

    first of all, we don’t use J2EE acronym anymore… the only way to point out enterprise Java technologies is through “Java EE” expression. Actually, having J2EE skills means you are old (almost said legacy) matadors :-)

    Second, the page at http://education.oracle.com/pls/web_prod-plq-dad/db_pages.getpage?page_id=146 can be a good starting point to reveal how it is with Java Certification.

    Have a nice day.

  4. Patrick says:

    Good info. Note that according to Oracle’s site, the associate exam seems to have been shorted to 70 questions / 120 min.

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