4th January 2007, the day of the SCJP exam, scheduled for 10:00AM. Arrived at the testing centre, was told to leave all my things in a locker. That included the pens I brought, prompting the question - will I be provided pen and paper? Apparently I won't, they have marker pens and thin mousepad-sized writing-board sheets (1 pen, 2 sheets and a duster per tester). That was a let-down. Though it's understandable why they do so, I would be more comfortable with the old pen-and-paper standard. Using a marker pen to record one's answer is somewhat irritating.
The questions were much simpler than expected, after the torture of going through the twisted self-test questions and mock exams. Even knowing that practice questions were harder than the real ones, I was still startled. 2 hours and 55 minutes is enough time to make an initial leisurely pass answering the 72 questions, bypassing over those with long convoluted code - sure to take some time to understand, a 2nd pass to wrap up unanswered questions and a quick 3rd pass to go through all the questions, minus the drag-and-drop ones. Spending time to record the answers for the drag-and-drop questions is time that could have been better spent elsewhere. Reanswering those drag-and-drop questions is definitely a pain, since the answers are cleared when you want a second look at the questions.
Overall, I think the preparation done for the SCJP exam was sufficient, as most of the questions I answered with confidence. Only with one question did I have really some doubt about what would happen (Oh, for a compiler at that time). So though I entered the exam with trepidation, I ended it with a very confident outlook. Of course, getting 13 questions wrong knocked me down with a good dose of humility, though a pass of 81% is not bad.
Looking over the breakdown of the score, I did pretty good in Declarations, Initialization and Scoping, Collections/Generics, Fundamentals and got perfect marks for Flow Control. The areas where I was lacking were API Contents, Concurrency and OO Concepts. I was surprised about Concurrency, admittedly it is a complex topic but I did not struggle with any questions regarding it except for one which looked like a deadlock situation. API Contents and OO Concepts were no surprise to me, the mocks that did breakdown listed them as problem areas. However I elected to focus on Generics and Collections, feeling I had a shaky understanding of them, and it paid off.
What I got from the entire affair? Aside from the SCJP certification, which I am not sure would be that useful, the one-month-plus training established a solid grounding in the standard Java language. It exposed me to the new features of Java 1.4 and 1.5. I'm not happy with Generics, thinking about it makes me feel like it is an abstract topic (in the literal, not Java, sense). I can use it for collections type-safety, though thinking about infesting wildcards, super and extends into classes and methods drives me off the deep end.
=^.^= At last I can bind the SCJP book with chains, weight it down with rocks and dump it in the deepest, murkiest river I can find, all the while dancing and cackling madly. =^.^=