Choosing an exam: Java Foundations vs OCP 11

Three years ago, I wrote about why you should take the OCA 11 rather than the Java Foundations exam. Now that the Java 11 cert is out, the situation changes.

Java Foundations vs OCA 8 (1Z0-815)

Until the OCA 8 is discontinued, I think everyone considering the Java Foundations exam should take the OCA 8. The reasons in my original blog post still apply:

  • The OCA 8 is not that much more difficult than the Java Foundations exam. It’s definitely in reach for an entry level programmer.
  • Taking the OCA 8 lets you use it as a pre-req for a later exam. You can take either the OCP 8 (IZ0-809) or OCP 11 part 2 (IZ0-816). This means you will only need to take one more exam to become OCP certified.

So when should you take the Java Foundations exam:

  • Cost: The Java Foundations exam costs less than half the price of the OCA 8. If you can’t afford the OCA, this is an option.
  • Requirement: If you took a course that requires the Java Foundations or lets you take it for free.

Java Foundations vs OCP 11 part 1 (1Z0-815)

With Java 11, it’s a harder decision deciding which exam to take because:

  1. The OCP 11 part 1 (1Z0-815) is significantly harder than the OCA 8 (1Z0-808). The OCP 11 part 1 is still in reach of an entry level programmer, but it is more work.
  2. Passing the OCP 11 part 1 does not give you a certification. Another (even harder exam) is needed for that.

So who should you take the Java Foundations exam:

  • Time: If you don’t have the time to study for two harder exams, the Java Foundations exam gets you a certification faster.
  • Cost: The Java Foundations exam costs less than half the price of the OCP 11 part 2 and a quarter the cost of the OCP credential.
  • Requirement: If you took a course that requires the Java Foundations or lets you take it for free.

Just be aware that taking the Java Foundations exam does not serve as a prerequisite to later certification exam. If you plan to get OCP certified in the future, be aware that the Java Foundations exam is a one off.