Failed miserably in a Java Certification mock exam or first attempt?

Failed OCA OCP Java Certification Exam

I failed miserably on my first mock test. What do I do now?

First thing is to not worry. It is okay. We know countless number of people who failed in mock tests at the beginning and then passed the real exam. Even many experienced Java developers fail on the real Java certification exam. This is not an extraordinary situation but a very normal one. In fact, this is exactly why you use the mock exams - to find out gaps in your knowledge before the real exam finds them!

Here is what you should do -
  1. Stop taking more tests. You will be tempted to take the next test to sooth your ego but don't do that. It will only waste a mock test. You should save mock tests for later.
  2. Get back to the basics
    • Failing with a very low score means you have serious gaps in your knowledge. Your concepts are probably too shaky. You need to clear your mind and go through a good book again (the same one or a different one).
    • While reading, you must write a lot of small code snippets to try out the concepts learned. On an average, you should expect to write one 5 line program per page of the book. If you are short on ideas, just wrap the code given on a page into a main method and execute it. Try changing variable names, try changing access modifiers, go through JavaDoc and try some other similar method from the API.
    • Always use command line and notepad for writing test programs. Make javac and java your best friends for the next couple of months. Do not use IDEs because the real exam requires you to be a human compiler to some extent and using an IDE will not prepare you for that.
    • Pay close attention to the error messages generated by the compiler and the exception stack traces printed while running a program. They give you a very good description of the problem. You will learn a lot from these messages.
  3. Move to the next test
    • When you are comfortable with the content, try the next Standard Test. Try to finish it within the time limit. Your goal should be to pass this test. And if you followed the previous step correctly, you will pass it.
    • After the test, go through the explanation for each question. Find out what you missed and why. Read up on topics on which you scored less. You can either refer to the same book or to online articles.
    • Take the next test. Your score should increase with each test. If your score is reduced substantially, then there is something wrong in the way you are preparing. You should go through some other book first.
    • Take all the remaining tests one by one, preferably with gap of 2-3 days to go through the topics on which you scored less.
    • Ideally, you should start passing the mock tests after the first 2 or 3. This tells you that you are doing good and are now ready for the real exam.

Taking the same Java certification mock/practice test multiple times

Generally, we do not recommend taking the same Standard Test more than once. This is because you will inadvertently remember the answers and you will invariably score a lot higher on this attempt. This creates a false sense of confidence, which will cause you a problem in the real test. Remember, your objective is to improve your score on the subsequent tests not on the same test.

If you take the same test again for any reason such as to refresh your memory, just don't read too much into the score that you get on it. In other words, don't think that you are ready to pass the real exam if you score even 90% on it. You need to get passing score on the first attempt on a mock test. That is a lot better indicator of your preparation.

Best of luck!
Enthuware Team.