java-certified-architect
Few days back I got through SCEA Step-1 with 82%. I wanted to blog my experience for those who are taking this exam and looking for advice.

I have first thought of taking this exam more than a year ago. I have started preparing for this exam about the same time. Also I took a course for SCEA offered through WhizLabs. First thing, I should say is if you have experience working on Java/J2ee technologies you don’t have to take any course. The course that I took didn’t offer me much help expect to let me know that I will have to read before I take this exam. The exam requirements changed after I took this training (now Oracle wants us to take a course before getting certified).

Anyways when I made up my mind to take this exam again couple of months back, I started off with a blank mind researching on how should I get started. After some research I had a plan of action:

Below is detailed description of the preparation for various sections that needs to be prepared:

Section 1: Application Design Concepts and Principles
Mikalai Zaikin’s SCEA Notes
I knew about design concepts but there were few things that I picked up from these notes. Anyways I felt that his notes should be good enough for people who are preparing for exam. Let me caution you that you should understand this chapter in detail as the concepts in this chapter form a base for lot of design questions for exam.

Section 2: Common Architectures
Mikalai Zaikin’s SCEA Notes

Section 3: Integration and Messaging
Adel Almoshaigah SCEA Notes
I made my notes based on Adel’s notes. I had good enough knowledge on Messaging but had to understand JCA in detail and I felt that his notes gave idepth information on JCA.

Section 4: Business Tier Technologies
Adel Almoshaigah SCEA Notes
I made my notes based on Adel’s notes. I knew pretty much all the information in this topic due my experience as developer on this topic. I read EJB3 in Action book to know more details about EJB3. I didn’t go in depth into programming while reading this book.

Section 5: Web Tier Technologies
Adel Almoshaigah SCEA Notes
I made my notes based on Adel’s notes. I knew pretty much all the information in this topic due my experience as developer on this topic.

Section 6: Applicability of Java EE Technology
Adel Almoshaigah SCEA Notes

Section 7: Patterns
Mikalai Zaikin’s SCEA Notes
Core J2EE Patterns
Design Patterns

Mikalai Zaikin notes is based on the prescriped books. There were few patterns that I knew out right from my experience but there we few that were completely new to me and there were few that confused me as they looked the same to me. That’s where books played a big role. Books have a very detailed description on the patterns and when and where they are used. I have made my own notes that made me understand the patterns better.

Section 8: Security
Mikalai Zaikin’s SCEA Notes.

Notes cover all the needed information in detail. Although I knew about few topics in bits and pieces, this section was completely new to me. I had to go through this chapter multiple times to understand few things.

Dos:
Make your own notes for each topic so that you can concentrate more on topics that you are not good yet.
Understand the concept enough to be able to apply the concept in various scenarios.
Train yourself to understand the question enough to choose the right answer. (The gramnmer used in exam is confusing lot of times). I can’t stress on this point enough because there are lot of questions in exams where you need to read and should be able to filter out unnecessary information and make a decision by processing the right information.

Don’ts:
Don’t memorize any concepts because it will only lead to more confusion
Don’t expect exam to use any words/phrases from the prescriped books
Don’t always concentrate on exam objectives, read to gain knowledge. This will help to crack design questions in exam easily and you will be prepared psychologically for any questions that might surprise you in exam.

For practice I bought practice questions from test king. I have bought practice questions from test king for all my certifications and they have never disappointed me. I would recommend test king for SCEA too, it had 300 odd questions for practice and I have done some 250 for practice and they helped me a lot. Practice questions till you are very comfortable with the pace at which you read, able to understand the questions at ease and are able to get reasonable amount of questions correct.

Exam Experience:
I have taken my test in Pearson test center. I reached there 30 minutes early and I was allowed to take the test 15 minutes before my scheduled time. After taking many certifications I trained myself to give equal importance to all the questions and I would suggest everyone to follow the same. When ever I stumbled on some question, I would just give it my best shot, mark the question (if you have taken certification tests earlier, you would know about this feature. You can mark a question for review later) and move on. I was able to complete the test in about 90 minutes. Then I went back to my marked questions, gave them a second thought. I clicked on finish button about 10 min before finishing mark.

My other posts related to SCEA: SCEA/OCMJEA Assignment, SCEA/OCMJEA Essay

Hope this information will help you and all the best for aspirants of SCEA.
thanks,
-Srini.