My Experience taking the new Java SE 11 Programmer I 1Z0-815 Exam

One day after Oracle announced the new Oracle Certified Professional: Java 11 Developer certification, I decided to jump in and take the first of two exams! As an author of a best-selling Java certification series, how hard could it be I thought? In short… very! I did pass, but it was very different from what I imagined it would be.

Certification Changes

On the surface, the new Java 11 Programmer I (1Z0-815) and Java 11 Programmer II (1Z0-816) exams appear to be loosely based on the original OCA 8 (1Z0-808) and OCP 8 (1Z0-809) exams. I say loosely, because glancing at the objectives would lead you to believe they might be the same exams. They are decidedly not! More on that in a minute. One major change to the structure, though, is that the Oracle Certified Associate title no longer exists. Completing either exam does not grant you any certification title, and you must complete both Programmer I and Programmer II exams (in any order) to be an Oracle Certified Professional 11. There is also a single Java 11 OCP Upgrade (1Z0-817) exam for holders of a Java 6/7/8 OCP certification. Each of the three new exams are listed at $245 US. Unlike previous Java exams, there is no discounted beta exam, or beta exam of any kind, for the new Java SE 11 exams.

Neither Jeanne nor I have taken the Programmer II exam yet, so the rest of this post will be about my personal experience with the new Programmer I exam.

OCA 8 (1Z0-808) vs Java 11 Programmer I (1Z0-815): What’s the difference?

A LOT. I can’t emphasize this enough. The new Programmer I exam is significantly harder than the OCA 8 exam was. Questions are much more involved, much longer, and often require answering multi-part questions. For example, a question might have 8 answer choices and you need to select 3 completely independent answers. Process of elimination is crucial to finishing the exam. For example, in some cases it’s a lot easier to find the 5 choices that don’t compile than the 3 that do.

The new Java 11 Programmer I exam also includes a lot of topics that were previously only found on the OCP 8 exam. While you don’t need to know stand-alone topics like Concurrency, JDBC, and NIO.2 for this exam, you do need to know nearly everything there is to know about core Java topics like interfaces, generics, and Java operators. Jeanne and I noticed the new objectives appear to be a lot vaguer and broader than the previous objective set, meaning they can (and do) encompass a lot more than is explicitly listed in the objective titles. For example, == and equals() are no longer listed in the objectives, but don’t let that lull you into thinking for a second that you don’t need to know them to pass the exam!

Modules, modules, modules, Oh my!

The Java 11 Programmer I exam includes new topics like Project Jigsaw modules. Prior to taking the exam, I thought there going were only going to be a handful of questions on modules. Boy was I wrong! There were many questions on modules and the depth of them was honestly very surprising. You definitely need to memorize all module-related command line arguments to java/javac/jdeps/jmod, as well as knowing the long and short command-line flags. Just because modules is 1 of the 12 of the top-level exam objectives, don’t be fooled into thinking only 1/12 of the questions will be on modules! Understanding modules is vital to passing this exam!

OCA 8 (1Z0-808) vs Java 11 Programmer I (1Z0-815): What’s the same?

Excluding modules, the objectives are quite similar between the OCA 8 and Java 11 Programmer I exams, but that’s more likely to do more harm than good. Anyone going into this exam thinking this is just a Java 11 version of the OCA 8 exam will be in for a surprise.

So what is the Java 11 Programmer (1Z0-815) exam?

In a nutshell, it’s like they took the old OCA 8 exam, increased the difficulty of the questions by an order of magnitude until it was as hard as the old OCP 8 exam. Then, they updated the length of questions so that you had to answer 2-3 questions at once in a single question. Next, they greatly increased the depth of any topic on the previous exam. For example, previously you might have only needed to know 2-3 StringBuilder methods, whereas now you need to know nearly all of them. Finally, they filled the exam to the brim with Java module questions.

Of course, they also included other new Java 9/10/11 topics, like var and some string/array methods, but they pale in comparison with the changes in depth, difficultly, and new module topics.

“Can I use your OCA 8 book to study for the Java 11 Programmer I exam?”

As the sole source of preparation for the exam, definitely not. The OCA 8 exam was significantly easier and lighter than the new Java 11 Programmer I exam, and we wrote the questions and topics to match that particular exam. If you only study from our previous book, there is a good chance you might fail the exam.

That said, you could use our OCA 8 book, as well as the first half of our OCP 8 book as a starting points for studying for the new Java 11 Programmer I exam, but you will absolutely need to supplement it with education on the new topics, methods, and classes in Java 9/10/11, as well as in depth and hands on knowledge of modules. You should also expect the questions to be at least on the level of difficulty as the OCP exam.

“Hey Scott and Jeanne, is there a new Java 11 certification book coming?”

We get this question a lot, even before the objectives were announced. All I can say is, stay tuned for now!

13 thoughts on “My Experience taking the new Java SE 11 Programmer I 1Z0-815 Exam

  1. Hi, Scott, really thank you for this post! Initially, I wanted to take 1Z0-816, as I have OCA Java 8. But after reading this post, I changed my mind, and decided to start from the first exam 1Z0-815. Anyway, it is always good to refresh my Java knowledge, because my OCA exam was in 2016.

  2. Congratulations, Scott!

    Like Yuri said, I wanted to go forward with this exam, but I decided to put it a little bit on hold after your post.

    What advice do you have for those that want to sign-up for this certification in the near future. What extra material do you recommend we study along with your OCA 8 book(and the first half of OCP) in order to pass the exam?

    Many thanks!

  3. Pingback: Java Annotated Monthly – April 2019 | IntelliJ IDEA Blog

  4. I’m not Scott, but I would recommend taking the OCA and OCP 8. It’s *really* hard to study for a cert exam without a study guide. And writing a study guide is hard because there is so much information to discern. If you really want to do this, you are probably going to need read the Java specification in detail, write code, create modules, figure out what tricks are likely to be on the exam and hope for the best.

  5. Thanks you for the post, Scott. I was close to take the OCA exam when I discovered these news about the new exams 1Z0-815 and 1Z0-816 and your post was very helpful for me. I’m gonna keep studying with your recommendations in mind and I’ll be looking forward news about Java 11 certification book.

  6. Wow! Jeanne Boyarsky! 😀

    Thank you for taking from your precious time to reply and for some great advice. I think that it could take a while before both study guides will be published. This time can be put to good use for Java 8.

    I’ll go with certs for Java 8 and will do an upgrade when the time is right for 11.

    Many thanks again for the advice and looking forward for the Java 11 books 🙂

    Daniel

  7. Thanks for the blog-post, its very informative.
    I recently cleared OCA 1Z0-808 and want to appear for OCP 1Z0-816 and looking for study material and test series. Please suggest if any.

  8. Announcement of Java 11 after so many long years is definitely a big plus for the Java community. And sharing your experiences on OCP Java 11 is very much useful. As pointed out rightly by Jeanne, one book is not sufficient to prepare for the exam right now and Java had outgrown vast. Ideal choice is books, practice, practice and practice…

  9. Hi Scott! Thank you for taking some of your time writing this neat review about the 1Z0-815 exam! I was in the process of getting my certification for Java 8 1Z0-808 in the next coming months. Since this new exam just came out, would you recommend sticking to getting my 1Z0-808 and then upgrading or just jump in to the new 1Z0-815?

  10. We have a draft schedule with the book publisher. I think that date is a worst case scenario. But realistic would only be a few months earlier. Note that the OCP 11 Part 1 is significantly different than the OCA 8. So there’s a lot of rewriting we are doing. Which means if you are looking to take a cert, you should take the Java 8 cert now rather than wait!

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