A Funny Java Flavoured Look at the World

Monday, April 17, 2006

Excellent Book for SCJP 5 Certification Exam

Sun Certified Programmer for Java 5: Study Guide Exam 310-055 (Certification Press S.)
Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates

I am almost at the end of this book and thought I would write a review of it and recommend it to people who are taking the Java SCJP 5 exam. I have one warning for people thinking about buying this book to help them study for the exam, the book is not as serious as other Java books and does tries to lighten up the academic message with jokes and silly examples. If like me you find reading and learning Java a bit tedious sometimes then this style is well suited to you, if on the other hand you are a more serious and academic person then you probably won't like this style and find it patronising and annoying.

The book is 800 pages long and takes the style of going through the major sections of the exam but not as they defined in the exam, the authors group them into logical topics. A chapter will explain a group of topics, summarise the important points called the two minute drill (very helpful for revision to have the important points put into bullet points) and then has a practise exam questions on the topic. The questions at the end of the chapter are very difficult, from the comments of other reviewers I have read they seem to indicate that the questions are harder than the actual exam questions. Some people didn't like this saying it made them fear the actual exam was going to be impossible, I personally thinks its a good idea to practise with harder questions because if you can answer those then you are in good shape for the real exam.

I certainly believe that you could certainly just use this book and pass the exam (as many of the reviewers in Amazon say this). I personally have researched some of the tougher topics like threads, collections and generics elsewhere but not really because the information in this book is lacking but just because I wanted some more examples to help reinforce and back up the information in this book.

One of the great strengths of this book is the authors constantly point exam gotchas and things to look out for, which is exactly the kind of advice you want.

The book also has one practise exam and you can also download another free practise exam online. Another excellent feature of the book is it has a free CD, which contains the book in PDF format, enabling you to have the ebook on your computer as well, which means it easier to search for things and have a copy at work or on your laptop.

Finally the CD also comes with 8 PDF chapters on how to pass your developers exam, which is useful if you get the exam bug, I personally will be looking forward to a rest from Java exams.

The reason I brought this book was because I was reading the Head First Java book written by the same authors. I am a big fan of the Head First style of writing and I much prefer the amusing approach they write in. Another point I would mention is the authors are involved with the JavaRanch website (which is excellent) and they also both involved in writing the exam, so who better to help write a book to prepare you. Below is a quick biography from Amazon

Kathy Sierra (Boulder, CO) is a co-developer of the SCJP 1.4 exam (310-035), and Sun's ePractice exam

Bert Bates (Boulder, CO) is a Sun Certified Programmer for Java 1.4, and has been developing software for the last 20 years.

I haven't taken the exam yet but I am on page 720 (out of 800) so I am getting near to the end of my journey. I have found this book really helpful and have no hesitation to recommend it. You should take into account that I haven't read any of other similar SCJP 5 exam preparation books so they could be better than this book but my opinion of this book is it is excellent and will have helped me to pass the exam. Here is the Amazon uk link to the book

Sun Certified Programmer for Java 5: Study Guide Exam 310-055

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