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Tips from SCJPs

This section includes certification tips from Sun Certified Java Programmers. It includes their experience of preparing and clearing the exam. In case you have recently cleared the SCJP2 with more than 75% you are welcome to send your tips/experience at ngabrani AT hotmail dot com on the SCJP exam. Please note that the comments in this section are from SCJP professionals, and does not reflect the opinions of

Writing code is a good way to learn the intricacies of Java
Lisa Strite,
Passed SCJP2 on 8/7/00 with 98%

Books used:
The Complete Java 2 Certification Study by Simon Roberts, et al
Java 2 (Exam Cram) by Bill Brogden, William B. Brogden
I took an eight week java programming course at penn state and did some additional studying during that time. The course did not cover exactly the same topics as the exam, so I used the two books to help me prepare. I highly recommend both books. While taking the course, I spent the first 6 weeks reading the certification books. Then the final two weeks I spent taking approximately 20 mock exams I found on the web. I also read the certification message board on javaranch. I had a small amount of prior experience in java and also experience in other object oriented programming. While I studied, I wrote many small programs to learn the intricacies of what I was reading. Writing code is a good way to learn and remember the ideas that you find confusing.

Be prepared to think during the exam
Alex Jones,
Passed SCJP2 on 10th June 2002 with 89%

Books used:
A Programmer’s Guide to Java Certification by Khalid Azim Mughal, Rolf Rasmussen
I had been working with Java on and off for a years when I decided to take the certification exam. I read the above book from cover to cover (excluding the sections on Swing and Javadoc) and went through the questions and programming. Then I scoured the web for mock exams and kept doing these and the questions in the book until I was consistently scoring above 80%.

I found that the actual test had a bias towards questions where you had to predict the output of given code and questions where, for example, you had to be able to quote the different forms of constructor for a class were kept to a minimum. So you need to be able to apply your knowledge in the exam more than you need to be able to quote it.

Know all the mock exams and know java language specifications
Sergey Manukyan,
Passed SCJP2 on June 28 2002 with 88%

Books used:
Java Language Specifications
pinpoint several places in exam:
1. switch( ?what type? ){ default: ?what order? } – several questions
2. threads synch., volatile variables – must understand, not very difficult
3. File(),* , streams constructors
4. AWT – simply must know, nothing difficult
5. inner classes (static, private, protected, final variables)
6. incapsulation, polymorphism, inheritance – must know these terms
7. arrays : Object o = new int [] {1,2,3,4}; //correct
8. int i = new Object(); //incorrect
9. String.intern( str ) – must understand
10. Function parameters are NEW variables that are passed by VALUE but not by reference.

Make your own examples of code to verify that you master the concepts
Victor Barcan,
Passed SCJP2 in 09/04/2002 with 81%

Books used:
The Complete Java 2 Certification Study by Simon Roberts, et al
Java 2 Exam Notes
I had a one and a half year of java programming before taking the exam, in projects using JSP, servlets and JavaBeans technologies. Prior to that I took IBM courses : Java, and Advanced Java programming.

I took all the tests from the book and passed 5 Free Mock Exams – which I unfortunately discovered only a few days before the actual exam. I used the last day before the exam exclusively for going through the Java 2 Exam Notes and for drawing interfaces and classes relationship diagrams.

I did some parts of the material several times, I did all the coding examples in the book, and I created more complicated ones in order to be sure that I fully understood all the topics.

The greatest benefit of taking the certification is that I dramatically improved my skills, hence greater efficiency of my code and greater performance. My code became more efficient, cleaner, with higher reusability. I also had the chance to reinforce my new skills by using them in the projects in which I was involved.

One more thing : try to sleep well the night before the exam.

Basically, get the basics right
Dennis Jose,
Passed SCJP2 on 30/9/00 with 86%

Books used:
The Complete Java 2 Certification Study by Simon Roberts, et al
Java 2 : The Complete Reference by Patrick Naughton
The Guide by Sun
I had joined a course for 1 month. During that time I used to go through the complete reference and become thorough with my basics. After completing my course, I had studied for 15 days using study guide by Simon Roberts and the guide by Sun. During the last week, I had gone through the sites given by It helped me a lot. There are a lot of questions asked for the exam from these sites. This may not be true for the new exam format though.

It is critical to be extremely alert during the exam
Ramalingam Kannan,
Passed SCJP2 on 10/31/00 with 81%

Books used:
Java 2 : The Complete Reference by Patrick Noughton and Herbert Schildt.
I think mock exams are the best way to go about preparing yourself for the test. They should give you a very good idea about the type of questions you must expect on the test. I first went through all the chapters of Java 2 : The Complete Reference by Patrick Noughton and Herbert Schildt. Then I took couple of mock tests. The key in taking mock exams is not to find out how much you get but rather to find your weak points. I made a list of topics that I constantly missed. Then I went back to the books and read through those chapters again. Trying out sample codes and playing around with them also helps a lot in understanding concepts. Then I went back to the mock exams and again filtered out the topics. This way I continued till I was doing fairly consistent in all the objectives. Making regular visits to discussion groups is also very helpful. One thing I figured out during this preparation, is that me and my other friends who where preparing for this test, all had the same reasons behind scoring low on the mock tests – “ALERTNESS”. It is very important to be alert during the exam. In my paper, more than 80% of the questions had codes in them. Therefore alertness is very important. I don’t think I can comment on any certification guide as such, because I referred a lot of them and lost track of which book to see.

Certification exam is completely different from a real project experience
Kumaran Mani,
Passed SCJP2 on 9/6/00 with 80%

Books used:
The Complete Java 2 Certification Study by Simon Roberts, et al
Sample test and tutorial from
Marcus Green’s three mock exams.
I spent about 15 days in training (self-study/Tutor based) for Java certification preparation. 10 of these days were for general preparation, and 5 days of hard-core preparation (bit & bytes). There were no surprise questions in the exam. Mostly, I did not have to use the scratch pad at all. Before my preparation, I had worked in projects involving J2EE architecture (JAVA, Servlets, JSP, EJB, etc.)

Believe me, certification exam is completely different from a real project experience. While working in a project, you don’t think through the things like, Can I override a “Final” method, Constructors get inherited or not, Can you >> (right shift) short, char, byte,etc. The certification exam is a way to help the new candidates to learn the JAVA language specifics rules and definitions. Passing the exam doesn’t mean you know and can do everything in JAVA. There is a lot to the Java language and the best place to start is to get certified.

Follow this – Read Simon Roberts, Compile and execute sample programs for Objects, Classes, AWT , etc. Take the mock exams as closed book test. If you score on average a pass mark, then well, What are you waiting for? GO FOR IT..!

Of course, this is my opinion and I could be wrong!

Detailed tips on the new format
Nishant Makhija,
Passed SCJP2 on 9/17/00 with 84%

General Comments
The certification exam helped me get a job in Reputed Software company in US (New Jersey) & I am waiting for my visa. As the difficulty level has been changed & the time has been reduced, there is a lot of difference in the earlier exam & today’s exam.

  1. Try to execute as many programs as possible. This will also help you in understanding difference between compile time & run time errors.
  2. Loops, continue and use of break statement in combination of increment/decrement operators can become very complex, so try out various examples of these.
  3. Make yourself so much acquainted with Java that any error in the code should give you a signal that there is some problem.
  4. Strong command on operators is very necessary because they change their behavior at different places & different situations.
  5. Overloading/overriding rules of exceptions that can be thrown and how access modifiers can be used with them is very important. In overriding, an overriding method cannot make the access more restricted. For example private amethod() cannot override public amethod().
  6. With respect to classes, methods & variables the access modifiers that are valid. For example a variable or a class cannot be native, synchronized. A variable cannot be abstract. etc.
  7. Inner classes & anonymous inner classes concepts are not present in most of the books. Try to check lots of information about them (deep knowledge is required).
  8. In multithreading understand issues like what will be the result of initiating the same thread twice.
  9. Which all methods are valid for string & string buffer.
  10. In lang & util package deep knowledge of each & every method is not required.
  11. IO streams are complex, their relations with each other, and how they are used is required.
  12. Try to execute each & every possible program with different layout managers & deep knowledge of constraints that make them behave differently is required.
  13. Event Handling and AWT are not that complex. The difficulty level of AWT and Event handling has not been changed. Studing from the books gives you enough knowledge.
  14. Now a general tip – try to be innovative, if your make any code alter it, execute it, try to make your brain work like java compiler & interpreter.
  15. Make a target of 90% or above, never think of just getting through.