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Update: new Sun Java Programmer Certification

We just completed the development of the new Sun Certified Java Programmer exam, based on Tiger/Java 5.0. It's a dramatically different exam from all previous versions in many ways:

1) More topics and NEW topics. We haven't finalized the wording of every objective, but you can get the as-if final objectives at javaranch. But the main topic changes from the previous exam are the addition of many Tiger features: generics (the most ambitious of the new language questions on the exam), autoboxing--there are some gotchas--make sure you understand what's wrong with this code...
class Foo {
Integer i;
int x = i + 3;

co-variant return types, enums, enhanced for (by far the easiest of the new features), and API questions about String.format(), printf() [the same thing!], and the addition of questions on internationalization using java.text things... (more on that when the objective wording is finalized).
Oh yeah, file I/O is back, and my personal favorite topic on the exam is that *finally* serialization is included. The OO topics have been beefed up a tiny bit too--where all previous versions of the exam covered the most basic concepts of IS-A, HAS-A, and encapsulation, the new one adds questions on cohesion and coupling. (Still no design pattern questions though : (

Expect a LOT more on collections, including Comparator and Comparable (and of course using both genericized and legacy non-genericized collections, and how they work (or don't!) together, and even a few more thread questions than on the previous versions.

2) The new exam is a hundred times more performance-based. Where previous versions did have a lot of what we considered knowledge-based questions (multiple-choice, testing you on knowledge of facts/rules), the new exam--which is 100% new (in the past, we've reused questions from previous versions on each new version)--is more than 70% scenario-driven. That means that rather than being asked directly about a particular language rule, you'll be presented with a code example and asked to figure out the implications of different choices made in the code. We've tried REALLY REALLY hard to eliminate the kinds of "puzzle" questions we had before, where you had to look at tricky code you'd fire someone for writing, and figure out what was going on.

There are also about 30% drag and drop questions on the exam. These are the closest we've been able to come to asking you to actually write code during the exam... where you're given a pile of code fragments (some useful, some not) and asked to drag them into place (like refrigerator magnetic poetry, the way we use in the Head First books), to construct code that fulfills the goal.

We were also on a major mission to eliminate the "trivia" questions. You won'd find, for example, questions where you're expected to have memorized the order of arguments on some method from the API, but instead you're expected to know the way things work.

This was our largest exam development team--11 people! It was a grueling process; we are all in a room together at Sun's campus in Colorado, with the windows covered for security and nobody gets back on a plane until the thing is done. And getting 11 Java engineers to agree on what's really important is a challenge.

What this means for Bert and I, though, is that we have to rewrite more than 50% of our SCJP cert book. We won't get fully ramped on doing the update until mid-January, when we start analyzing the beta results. Then it'll be a mad rush to get it out in time to help the first group of people pass the thing.

If you are enrolled in the beta, we will be happy to send you some mock exam questions to help you prepare. We don't want people to take the beta ill-prepared, because that causes the final passing rate on the exam to be lower than we'd like. The better people do on the beta, the higher the pass rate for the final release. So, we're going to give you as much help as we can. You *must* be registered for the beta before we can send the mock exam questions to you, and keep in mind that they'll be beta as well : ), but at least it's something. You don't need to contact us about it--you'll get an email sometime after you register for the beta (through Sun--visit the SCJP forum for details on the beta. I believe it's still open).

Please understand this: the new exam is nothing like all previous exams in difficult, tone, style of question, topics, everything. All previous mock exams (including the ones in our book) will not be enough to prepare you! You need to study a little differently. The good news is, it'll be MUCH more difficult for the "I read a book and now I can pass" folks to get this certification. While the exam has always been one tough mother, the ability to memorize is far less of a help now than the ability to write, evaluate, and troubleshoot code. Even a few refactoring questions : )

Stay tuned.

Posted by Kathy on December 26, 2004 | Permalink


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» New Sun Java Programmer Test for 1.5 from Mark W. Shead
The new certification test for Java 1.5 (or Java 5) is going to be coming out as a beta soon. According to Kathy Sierra's weblog the new test is going to avoid the complicated "puzzle" type problems and concentrate more on your ability to accomplis... [Read More]

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» Java 5 certification (SCJP) exam from Panasonic Youth
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Tracked on Aug 10, 2005 8:50:32 AM


Can you use bold instead of asterisks? It's really hard to read your text when it's littered with *this* and *that*.

Also you might consider spell checking your entries before posting them.

Posted by: Fred Sanford | Dec 27, 2004 11:07:23 AM

Fred: Can you use bold instead of asterisks?

Yes! I promise I'll work on that. I have some really bad online habits from so many years of having to use plain text to mark-up what I really meant, and what's worse, I now mix both *fake* [sorry, had to do that to explain] and real italics and bold using tags, but I keep forgetting that I CAN use tags. (And there I go using caps again, because I don't think tags work in comments).

So, good point Fred. I can't promise I'll be good about spell checking... I can't get the new Typepad spell-checking interface to work for me, but I guess I can try to put the entries into my little text editing program and do it that way. I'll put more effort into proofing myself, but I'm really bad at that. Ah... the brain so often sees what you meant, not what you really did.

Geez... I didn't realize people would actually be reading this blog so soon. There's another thing that I didn't have a clue about. I thought I'd have some time to figure out what it's like to write things without an editor. I'm also still struggling with the difference between articles and blog entries, and I had hoped people would kind of look the other way on the just-something-I-dashed-off blog entries. I'm a little worried that if I start trying to get things really ready, I won't post as often, but I'm sure there's a happy balance.

But the first thing I can do is get rid of the asterisks and start using the tags exclusively.


Posted by: Kathy Sierra | Dec 27, 2004 11:50:57 AM


When i can expect the SCJP1.5 from sun? i am not asking about beta exam.

Posted by: Krishna Srinivasan | Jan 24, 2005 4:32:36 AM

Hi there -- we're just going into beta right now, but we expect the *real* exam to release in April. I'll post an update on that soon..

Posted by: Kathy Sierra | Jan 24, 2005 10:26:45 AM

HI Kathy,

Thanx. I am preparing for the final exam.
When will you release HF(HeadFirst) series for Tiger exam. I thinki there is no books in the market for Tiger exam.
And also if you can provide few Sample Mocks it will be helpful to take the exam.

Thank you for your reply.

Posted by: Krishna Srinivasan | Jan 24, 2005 9:51:27 PM

Howdy Krishna, we're updating our certification book for the Tiger exam now. For the certification books, we like to wait until we have the beta results from the exam, and then we work like CRAZY trying to get the book out as soon as possible so people can start studying. We will probably start posting mock exam questions in the next 2 to 3 weeks. It is a very different exam from the current version; we expect that 30% of our book will change. Thanks!

Posted by: Kathy Sierra | Jan 24, 2005 10:27:50 PM

Hi Kathy:

I am taking Tiger-beta next week(Regd # *****T52A4). Could you send me some mock questions to get the feel of the exam.

>If you are enrolled in the beta, we will be happy to send >you some mock exam questions to help you prepare.


Posted by: Sai Padimiti | Feb 5, 2005 6:23:40 PM

I am taking the Beta test this weekend and I did not receive an e-mail with mock questions. Would you please send them to me. Thanks!

Posted by: Rebecca Hargreaves | Feb 7, 2005 1:27:43 PM

Would you mind sending the beta questions my way...sometime tomorrow morning? Saturday morning would be too late :)

Posted by: Donald Bleyl | Feb 10, 2005 9:23:38 PM

I am a big fan of your book and plan to buy/read more of your Head First stuff.
I am planning on giving the SJCP 1.5 test on Mar 5, just before the beta period concludes.
I read about the mock questions, it would help me a lot if you could email them to me.
[email protected]

Posted by: Raghu Saranathan | Feb 28, 2005 1:39:06 PM

I forgot to mention that I have already registered for the test, however I received no email from anyone with the mock questions. Which is why I am asking you!

Posted by: Raghu Saranathan | Feb 28, 2005 1:46:10 PM

hi ,
iam preparing for jcp
please send the mock exam papers

Posted by: rajasekhar | Mar 16, 2005 11:40:53 PM

I am planning to give tiger exam. I am not able to find any books or resources such as mock exams on the net. Can you please give me some information about it.


Posted by: rajesh | Apr 30, 2005 8:35:56 AM

Can we get an update as to when we can expect the new Java 5 study guide?

Posted by: Tommy | Jul 13, 2005 6:32:35 AM

i recently planning to give exam!
when Post beta exam will be comming!!
what should i do
go for scjp1.4
or wait scjp1.5

Posted by: Abhijit | Aug 22, 2005 8:04:13 AM

Iam preparing for SCJP, Please send me mock exams & some useful tutorials, as iam new to SCJP i want more details... Pls Help.....

Posted by: ganesh | Sep 5, 2005 5:51:09 AM

I want to take SCJP 1.5 exam some time next month.Which book should I follow? Is a month sufficient for preperation? Please give me appropriate advice.

Posted by: Santhosh | Sep 19, 2005 9:34:12 PM

I would like to take up JCP Exam. Which one is better to take up SCJP 1.4 or SCJP 1.5.


Posted by: Raghu | Dec 12, 2005 4:36:20 AM

Friends hi , i want to give SJP exam , which should i select , the old pattern or the new one and why , how long can i select the old pattern ?

Posted by: Anil Tambe | Jan 4, 2006 11:45:29 AM

Hi, i am great fan of you and Bert Please tell me have you written any book for scjp5 upgradation exam(cx 031-056). I am java certified programmer for 1.4, scored 91% and am planning take up the tiger exam, pls let me know the book to follow.Please please please please

Posted by: Durgaprasad | Feb 23, 2006 10:30:46 PM

Can anyone plz tell me the difference between scjp1.5 than scjp1.4 in terms of a scale of 1-10 .

Suppose one has done 1.4 then how much importance to do 1.5.

When the real exam for 1.5 will be available in the market.


Posted by: tapan | Mar 1, 2006 5:12:56 AM

Please provide me more details on Head First Java and SCJP 1.5

Posted by: shubha | Mar 31, 2006 10:00:53 AM

Hi there --
The SCJP 1.5 exam is now available in most markets (I'm not sure what the current status of translations is). The new exam -- which covers Java 5 -- is more difficult and covers more objectives than the 1.4 exam. Some people are still taking the 1.4 exam, and then taking the upgrade exam for 1.5 (a smaller exam focused mainly on the new objectives specific to 1.5).

Our certification book for SCJP 1.5 covers the new programming exam completely. The Head First Java book does NOT prepare you for the exam, although it is certainly a good place to start if you do not know Java at all. Sun's Java exams are *very* challenging, and have gotten more difficult with each version. To upgrade our certification book from 1.4 to 1.5 required adding 300 new pages! (and this is not a head first book, so those pages are nearly all text)

By FAR the best place to learn and study for the exam is on javaranch.com, in the certification forum. It's extremely active, and the participants there are VERY helpful.

Posted by: Kathy Sierra | Mar 31, 2006 10:14:38 AM

Hi Kathy ,
I am preparing for SCJP5 , reading your book ,I am finding it very helpful.can you send me the mock exam papers for the same ,it will be more helpful for me.

thank you
Regards ,

Posted by: Rakesh | May 29, 2006 1:28:39 AM

Hi Kathy,
I am planning to take SCJP. Which one i want to choose 1.4 or 1.5. I have your SCJP1.4 book with me. is this book enough for SCJP 1.5? SCJP 1.5 is Beta version or real. pls send me the Mock questions for SCJP 1.5 to my mail id.

Posted by: Sathish | Jun 5, 2006 1:52:33 AM

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