So, after pushing away the OCA Java SE 8 Programmer I[1] exam for a gazillion years (originally, the SE 7 version), last June (2016), I’ve been given the opportunity (indeed, a voucher) to take the exam, but guess what? I simply forgot. Well, not forgot, but I thought the voucher was due in June 2017, 1 year after the purchase, but it wasn’t - yeah i know, I am an idiot…
So, here’s how I prepared myself for the exam in a relatively short amount of time (~1 month). Hopefully, you’ll take something away from my journey and be at least as prepared as I was. But please, don’t let things to the last minute as I did.


I was already an experienced Java Developer when I prepared for/took the exam. I’ve been writing Java for a long, long time. Including all of those (good) years of college plus 5 years or so professionally. Bear that in mind.

Study Book

I started by reading OCA: Oracle Certified Associate Java SE 8 Programmer I Study Guide[2]. I have actually read it twice, three times if I count the Java SE 7[3] version - I told you that I am an idiot, haven’t I?
The book itself isn’t particularly good if you’re new to programming and/or Java, there are a couple of other books[4] that you may find a little more helpful as a beginner. On the other hand, if you’re not, even though the overall book structure could be better organized, it’s not hard to follow, granted that you’ll have to either jump back and forth or keep reading until certain topics are actually completely covered.

I’ve used my kindle[5] to read the book and kept highlighting content that I thought it was important for me to remember. At the end of the book I had a bunch of highlighted content that I took which I then wrote down on paper (yes, that is still a thing) using my own wording along with examples.

One valuable asset was the included questionnaires at the end of each chapter. You’ll need a lot of practice for the exam since its questions might not be as straightforward as they might seem at first glance. Be sure to read them carefully and then read it again, you’ve been warned.

Practice Exams

Aside from the questionnaires available at the OCA book, you can find some free mock exams available to you here[6]. I didn’t use them though, simply because I wanted something that hopefully would be harder than the actual exam.
Don’t get me wrong, you’ll most likely be able to pass the exam if you’re already familiar with Java and have a decent amount of experience with it. But to me, the real question was: Am I only looking for the “Congratulations on earning your Oracle Certification credential!” e-mail afterwards? No, that’s not me. I am competitive as hell, specially when I am competing against myself.

So, I scattered the interwebz searching for (harder) preparation exams.. Eventually, I came across enthuware[7] exams, and guess what? I cannot recommend them enough. The exams are spot on, IMO (some of them are a lot) harder than the actual OCA exam. They were definitely worth the small price tag, no question - no pun intended ☻

Exam & Result

All of this preparation turned the actual exam into a piece of cake for me. I took my time, read all of the 80 questions slowly - I was averaging 1h30m for the mock exams while the real exam took me 2 hours and some bits to complete - and carefully. There were a couple of questions which were harder (or trickier) than the others, but nothing too crazy.

A few hours later I checked certview[8] and the result was there (I didn’t receive the e-mail until the next day though). Boom! I manage to fail… one f. question, because if you remember I am an idiot.. and can only read 79 questions, not 80:


Oh well, the final score was 98%. It could have been worst, right? asdlkfbadskfasbaksbfjskabfca.. fml.

Final thoughts

  1. Study Java/OCA related books
  2. Take your own notes
  3. Test code samples
  4. Elaborate your own code samples
  5. Practice Exams
  6. Practice Exams
  7. Practice some more
  8. Read the damn questions carefully
  9. Mark tough/tricky questions for review
  10. At the end, review all the marked questions

And that’s it. See you soon!