A.1 Preparing for the Programmer Exam

Sun Educational Services offers three types of certification exams for Java:

  • Programmer exam

    Basically a multiple choice exam, testing the candidate's knowledge of the Java language and its usage.

  • Developer exam

    Comprising a programming assignment and an essay exam testing comprehension of advanced Java features.

  • Web Component Developer exam

    A multiple-choice and short-answer examination, testing the candidate's knowledge of Servlets, JSP pages, and web development.

  • Technology Architect exam

    Basically a multiple-choice exam, dealing with the large-scale issues of deploying Java technology. This exam tests the candidate's knowledge regarding Java-related technologies and products, and also the planning and designing involved in Java projects.

The focus of this book is on the Sun Certified Programmer for the Java 2 Platform 1.4 (SCPJ2 1.4) exam, which is a prerequisite for taking the Sun Certified Developer for the Java 2 Platform exam.

The goal of the programmer exam is to test practical knowledge of the Java language. The exam tests for thorough understanding of both the syntax and the semantics of the Java programming language.

The exam covers a wide variety of topics, as defined in the objectives for the programmer exam (see Appendix B, p. 497). It covers everything from the basic syntax of the language to detailed knowledge of threading and the core APIs, such as the java.lang package and the collections framework.

The need for real-world experience for this exam cannot be stressed enough. It is next to impossible to pass the test without having some actual experience programming in Java. Simply reading straight through this book is not recommended. Readers should take time to try out what they have learned every step of the way. Readers are encouraged to gauge their newly acquired knowledge, using the review questions provided after every major topic.

Experimenting with the examples and working through the programming exercises in the book will serve to give the reader a much better chance of passing the test. The exam is considered to be hard, and requires a fair amount of studying on the part of the candidate.

When the reader feels ready for the exam, she should test her skills on the sample exam that is provided in the back of the book (Appendix F). This will give an indication of how well the reader is prepared for the exam, and which topics need further study. The structure of the book should make it easy for the reader to focus on single topics, if necessary.

Even seasoned Java programmers should invest some time in preparing for the exam. Simply having real-world experience is also not enough to pass the exam.