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ABIS Infor - 2012-04

Tips and tricks for becoming a certified Java programmer

Sandy Schillebeeckx (ABIS) - March 2012


As a (beginning) java programmer, it probably crossed your mind to get an official certification. Maybe you thought "why would I bother?". And once you do decide to go for it, where do you start?
This article discusses some of the pros of becoming an Oracle Certified Professional Java Programmer (OCPJP, formerly SCJP) and lists some tips on how to achieve it.

Why would you bother?

Getting a Java certificate is not just about pimping up your resume or earning more money. Sure it can help as a beginning programmer, but that shouldn't be your major motivation. More experienced programmers, on the other hand, often have the criticism that for the exam you have to become a human compiler, and that it is going too deep into little picky things that you will never encounter in reality. Your IDE does that stuff for you, doesn't it?

Actually, becoming a Certified Java Programmer IS totally worthwhile. It is also the first (required) step in getting more advanced certificates, like Web Component Developer or Business Component Developer.
Studying for the certificate will get you up to date with the newest developments. Even as an experienced programmer you will still learn a lot you did not know before about Java. You will get a better understanding about how Java thinks and why certain things are the way they are. It can help you to write better programs and it gives you the motivation to try things out. Besides these content related issues, it shows people around you that you are not afraid to handle loads of information and that you are motivated to learn (new) things.

Exam tips

  • Start with the correct motivation: don't just cram to pass the test and afterwards forget everything, but with the will to really learn something.
  • Use a good book. One I can recommend is the Sun Certified Programmer for Java Study Guide by Sierra and Bates.
  • Make a summary, especially containing the things that aren't obvious to you.
  • Try things out in code. Preferably without using an IDE. Be curious: what happens if I would do this....
  • Do plenty of mock tests, you can find a lot of them for free online.
  • Stay positive, even if you do get bad results on some of the mock tests. They often are (a lot) harder than the real exam.
  • Take your time to prepare, certainly if you are a beginning programmer.
  • On the exam:
  • take a deep breath if you would be nervous, and relax a couple of minutes before really starting
  • make a lot of drawings (UML diagrams) that can help you solving the questions
  • write out the variables in loop questions (like you were doing in school when you had your first programming courses).
  • write down (for each question) whether you think your answer is ok or not (to have an idea of your later score)
  • don't stress about the time limit, you have plenty of time
  • go over your answers, but don't change those where you were sure they were correct in the first "round"

What can ABIS do for you?

At ABIS, we have experience in helping people to pass certification exams. Not just for OCJCP, but also the more advanced ones. You can contact us for a company or individual training.

We won't offer a 100% guarantee that you will pass (although we can show you very good passing rates). We don't believe in those courses that promise you a guaranteed certificate in just 2 weeks, even if you didn't have any Java experience at all. Like I said, intrinsic motivation is important. You WILL have to study yourself. But on top of that, we CAN push you that extra bit. We can help you to understand the details of Java, prepare you using tests to see how far you stand and also do the practical organization.

If you have any questions or want to organize a certification training, don't hesitate to contact us at