Taking the 1Z0-819 Exam: Study Everything and Watch the Clock! (Part 2 of 2)

In Part 1 of my experience taking the 1Z0-819 exam, I described my overall experience taking the new Java 11 Oracle Certified Professional exam. In Part 2, I’ll go into more detail about some of the finer points for those planning to take this new exam using our Programmer I or Programmer II books, or the combined Complete Study Guide.

TLDR: Yes, our Java 11 books are perfect for the new 1Z0-819 exam! I scored an 87% myself, although I was focused more on studying the exam than passing it. Read on if you plan to take the new 1Z0-819 exam!

1. Differences in Material between the Old and New Exams

By comparing the 1Z0-815/1Z0-816 and 1Z0-819 exam objectives, you might be inclined to think the material is radically different, but really isn’t. For most of the objectives, Oracle just took 2-3 objectives and rewrote the sentences to form a single objective. This is from someone who spent hours studying every word of all sets of objectives! See, not so scary is it?

That said, there are some differences between the 1Z0-815/1Z0-816 exams and the 1Z0-819 exam that you should be familiar with. Jeanne and I will be posting an addendum page on this blog for the people who purchase our Java 11 books to ensure they are properly prepared. For now, though, these are the important differences:

  • Assertions are gone! This is just since most Java developers tend to use JUnit rather than the built-in assert keyword. When you get to this section in our books, feel free to skip it and have a snack!
  • CallableStatement are also gone! Jeanne and I were never thrilled this was on the exam as the usage can dependent very much on the database. You can skip this section too and have a drink with your snack!
  • Oracle added the word privileged to the security objective and this results in the doPrivileged() method now being in scope. For these questions, you need to read Section 9 of the Oracle Secure Coding Guidelines for Java SE. Some people reported seeing doPrivileged() on the 1Z0-816 exam, though, so it’s possible Oracle updated the 1Z0-816 exam more recently with this topic.

2. Studying for the 1Z0-819 Exam using our Books

Since the changes between the old and new exams are minimal, we still strongly recommend our Java 11 books to study for the new 1Z0-819. Since we were part of the team that helped design the objectives for the new 1Z0-819 exam, we were careful to keep the amount of new material to an absolute minimum. After taking the new exam, we are confident they can be used to successfully prepare for an pass the 1Z0-819 exam.

Now you may be asking, which of our books should you use? We recommend one of the following two options:

Before you rush to buy the Java 11 Complete Study Guide (since it’s one book instead of two), be aware that the physical edition is 1200+ pages long! And, the other two books contain the same material. In other words, if you plan to carry the book around on a train or bus, I recommend buying the first two books over the Complete Study Guide. Although if you’re going with the eBook edition, then go with whatever is cheaper!

3. Coming Soon: 1Z0-819 Practice Test Book

Jeanne and I recently finished the manuscript for our new Java 11 Practice Test book. This book has been updated and custom fit for the new 1Z0-819 exam. It is scheduled be released at the end of the year or early 2021.

4. Missing Strikethrough Exam Software Feature

On previous exams, you could right-click on an answer choice and it would cause it to strikethrough. This was extremely helpful for process of elimination and especially now that some questions have up to 10 answer questions! Unfortunately, this feature was not available when we took the exam. It’s not clear if this was a bug or Oracle has since pulled the feature, but I hope they bring it back. I had to actually write ABCDEFGHIJ on my scratch pad for some questions and cross them out one by one! Especially difficult when you can’t erase on the whiteboard they give you.

5. 1Z0-819 Exam vs 1Z0-817 Upgrade Exam: Scott’s Recommendation

If you hold a previous Oracle Certified Professional (not Associate) title, then you can still take the Java 11 1Z0-817 Upgrade Exam rather than the Java 11 1Z0-819 Exam. At this time, Oracle does not have any plans to retire the Upgrade exam.

My recommendation is given the choice between the two exams, I’d rather take the 1Z0-817 Upgrade exam. First off, the material is narrower in scope. Very few of the topics from from the previous 1Z0-815 exam appear and many of the topics from the 1Z0-816 exam (annotations, JDBC, security) are gone as well. In other words, you only have to study a dozen chapters from our Programmer II book, along with the Upgrade Appendix we included in the book, rather than potentially all of the chapters in the Complete Study Guide.

While the 1Z0-817 upgrade exam has more questions than the 1Z0-819 exam, you have 3 hours. Since I found the questions on the 1Z0-817 exam to be often shorter with fewer answer choices than the questions on the 1Z0-819, I feel you have a lot more time to think on the upgrade exam. I was not remotely worried about running out of time when I took the 1Z0-817 upgrade exam.

The only downside to taking the 1Z0-817 upgrade exam is that it contains a lot of questions on modules. In fact, 3 out of 10 of the objective sets are modules on the 1Z0-817 exam! It is fair to say modules did not feature nearly as prominently on the 1Z0-819 exam, so if you don’t like modules than the 1Z0-819 might be a better fit for you.

6. Exam Center Process

I opted to take the exam in-person after hearing some scary stories about at-home software tracking your eye movement and what not. Below are my comments from taking it in the time of COVID:

  • Temperature check and handwash station as soon as I walked in the door. The testing center I was at had a thermometer mounted to the wall I had to stand in front of.
  • Had to keep my mask on the entire time, except when I was signing in and they wanted to check my ID and take my picture.
  • To my surprise, there were 3 other people taking tests too, we were placed on opposite corners of the room.
  • I received my score as soon as I clicked “Finish” to end the exam. It was shown on the screen.
  • The test center handed me “Score Report” which had nothing on it except instructions to go online. My score was not printed.

Conclusion

So, that’s my personal experience taking the new Java 11 1Z0-819 exam. At the end of the day, I’m actually happy Oracle dropped the two exam requirement for the certification. After all, it cuts the price for certification in half! I just wish they had started with this approach, rather than retiring the 1Z0-815/1Z0-816 merely a year after they were released. Their roll of out the new exam was hastily done to say the least.

Jeanne and I have heard from numerous readers that this has thrown their study plans into complete disarray. To those readers, I completely empathize. Just imagine how it’s impacted two authors who’ve devoted a significant amount of time in their lives to creating study material for the Java 11 exams. It’s been quite a ride, but happily our Java 11 books are still the best source of material for studying for the exam!

Taking the 1Z0-819 Exam: Study Everything and Watch the Clock! (Part 1 of 2)

As we announced back in August, Oracle has abruptly retired the previous 1Z0-815/1Z0-816 Java certification exams and replaced them with a new, single 1Z0-819 exam for becoming a Java 11 Oracle Certified Professional. Having worked with Oracle directly in writing the new exam objectives, we were confident our new Java 11 Books (Programmer I, Programmer II, and combined Complete Study Guide) were excellent in preparing for the new 1Z0-819 exam but had to wait until this past month to confirm. Jeanne recently described her experience taking the 1Z0-819 exam, and now it’s my turn!

TLDR: Yes, our Java 11 books are perfect for the new 1Z0-819 exam! I scored an 87% myself, although I was focused more on studying the exam than passing it. Read on if you plan to take the new 1Z0-819 exam!

Scott’s Experience Taking the 1Z0-819 Exam

Overall, I found the 1Z0-819 exam exactly as described, a combined version of the previous 1Z0-815/1Z0-816 exams (which Oracle has since removed entirely from their website). There’s 3 aspects, though, that make the 1Z0-819 exam far more difficult than the 2 exams it replaces:

  • Scope of Material
  • Time Limit and Question Structure
  • Number of Questions

1. Scope of Material

The scope of the exam is something to behold in and of itself. The material between the old 1Z0-815/1Z0-816 exams and the 1Z0-819 exam is nearly identical (more on that in Part 2), which means you have to study double the material for a single exam. The sheer range of questions, from annotations to JDBC, from security to switch statements to operator overloading, is mind-boggling.

I found the 1Z0-816 exam to be significantly less difficult, as it was relatively easy to discern what a question was asking for. For example, a question that used an ExecutorService was clearly about concurrency. On the new exam, though, a question that appears to be about a repeatable annotation might actually be about functional interfaces or static initializers. The questions overlap in scope far more than they did any of the previous Java 11 exams.

2. Time Limit and Question Structure

While the 1Z0-815/1Z0-816 exams had an absurdly long 3 hours, the new 1Z0-819 exam is 50 questions in 90 minutes, giving you less than 2 minutes per question. While I didn’t find the time limit on the old exams constraining in the least, the new structure of the questions resulted in me finishing with less than 5 minutes to spare! I barely had time to go back and review the questions that I had marked.

By new structure, I mean the 1Z0-819 questions were a lot longer with more answer choices than the previous exams. As already mentioned, the scope of the questions was much broader as well. The result is that I frequently had to read 3-4 classes/interfaces quickly, understand them, and then pick two answer choices among seven or eight answers.

This brings my first two tips for anyone taking the new exam! Watch the clock and Read the answers before reading the question. Watching the clock is not a new idea but is far more important on the 1Z0-819 exam, as opposed to the previous exams where I could leisurely read them and finish with 45+ minutes to spare. You absolutely have to pace yourself and if you’re taking too long, skip the question. If I hadn’t been carefully watching the clock, I’m sure I would not have finished on time.

As far as reading the answers before the questions… as described some questions contained 3+ classes. I simply did not have time to read all of the code, fully understand it, and then read the 5+ answer choices. For example, if a question specifically says “Which line or lines do not compile?”, then start reading the answer choices and see if any of them stick out as obvious compiler errors. Working backwards is not my favorite test-taking strategy, but if you want to finish on time you need to for some of the longer questions.

3. Number of Questions

Because the 1Z0-819 exam asks in 50 questions what previously would have been asked in 160 questions, you are only likely to get 1-2 questions on a particular topic. Put simply, randomness plays a big part on this exam (but in a way that is fair).

After reading reviews from other test-takers and my co-author Jeanne, it is clear that we did not get the same questions. For example, while I only received one question on JDBC, the question was nothing like type of questions others received. This means that the exam is actually well distributed on topics, with a lot of different (but similar) questions.

If someone tells you they didn’t receive a question on a particular topic, that does not mean you do not need to study it! I cannot emphasize this enough! The broad nature of the exam and short number of 50 questions, means questions you receive on the 1Z0-819 will be very different from anyone else who takes the exam.

Jeanne and I actually think this is a very fair approach. You have to know the material well and the exam is free to ask any question about the material. It also means if people try to cheat by studying so-called brain dumps, then they are likely to confuse the question with a similar one and answer it incorrectly.

To be continued in Part 2!

finding out when Oracle changes the certification objectives

As Scott and I noted in the introduction of our book, Oracle tends to fiddle with the duration, number of questions and passing score of their certification exams. They also fiddle with the exam objectives themselves on occasion. And as you might imagine, these aren’t well publicized.

First attempt

I originally thought that I would use the ChangeDetection service to subscribe to receive an email when the relevant certification pages changed. This turned out not to work as the HTML is always the same. Oracle uses AJAX to fill in the data. For example, the objectives page for the OCA 8 is rendered using the XML on this page. My next thought was that I’d use the ChangeDetection site to monitor the XML page. No such luck, they don’t support XML.

Writing something myself

A differences program isn’t hard to write, so I created my own in a public github repository. It stores a copy of the “current” data for each exam it follows and checks for differences. (I have it running as a Jenkins periodic build so it checks for updates once a day.) I considered using Travis CI since it supports Java/Maven. However, Travis doesn’t yet support periodic builds. There is a third party site that can trigger your builds for you, but CodeRanch has a perfectly good Jenkins server. And since one of the goals of this project is to be able to announce certification changes on a timely basis in the forums, it seems reasonable to run it there.

How do you find out if there is a change?

For significant changes, we tend to mention them in the relevant certification forum. For the OCA 8 exam, we will also list objective changes on the book page. You can also look at the text files for each exam on github. The last modified date shows the last change. You can also click on the file to see the history/diffs to see what changed and approximately cool. You could even use the ChangeDetection service on the github pages since they aren’t XML. For example, this page is for the OCA 8.

If there is an exam you’d find useful to be tracked and isn’t already, please add a comment on this blog post.

Technologies used

  1. Maven
  2. Selenium (a tiny bit)
  3. HTML Parser
  4. JUnit/Parameterized test