My Experience taking the new Java SE 11 Programmer II 1Z0-816 Exam

Back in March, I took the new Java SE 11 Programmer I 1Z0-815 Exam only 2 days after it was released. Going into the exam blind, I wasn’t too worried because the previous OCA 8 1Z0-808 exam had been such a breeze. Boy was I surprised! While I passed with a decent margin, I was shocked the level of difficulty of the Programmer I 1Z0-815 exam. It was nothing like the 1Z0-808 exam it inherits from, especially in terms of question difficulty!

This past month, Jeanne and I finished writing our new Java OCP 11 Programmer I Study Guide (now available for preorder), which meant it was time to turn our attention to our upcoming Java OCP 11 Programmer II Study Guide. Rather than go in blind, and especially given all of the new material, I decided to spend some time studying *before* taking the 1Z0-816 exam. Well, it paid off because I passed today with a quite a wide margin. Below are some of my impressions of the exam.

Level of Difficulty

This might sound crazy, and I’m sure I’m biased, but overall I found the 1Z0-816 OCP11 exam less difficult than the OCP 8 1Z0-809 exam it inherits from. Don’t get me wrong, it was a difficult exam, but I felt like there were so many topics and they were so broad, the exam rarely went into especially deep detail on some of them. For example, many of the questions regarding SQL injection had pretty clear answers. In most of the questions, I was able to eliminate completely “ridiculous” answers right away, getting the answer choices down to 2 (or 3 if it was pick 2, or 4 if it was pick 3, etc). In fact, some questions I didn’t even need to read the text to whittle down the answer choices. For example, if an answer choice is an invalid lambda expression, it clearly cannot be a valid answer. With that in mind, most questions boiled down eliminating bad answers, then reading the question text to know which of the two remaining choices was correct.

Better Focused

One of the best changes they made in the new 1Z0-815/1Z0-816 exam series was to move most of the core Java syntactical questions to the first exam. While they made the 1Z0-815 exam harder, it made the 1Z0-816 exam a lot clearer. For example, if a question appears to be about NIO.2 on the 1Z0-816 exam, then it’s about NIO.2! On the older 1Z0-809 exam, I always felt like they mixed common Java topics with advanced ones. For example, a question that appears to be about NIO.2 on the 1Z0-809 exam might actually be about constructor overloading or overriding methods. In other words, the 1Z0-816 exam is better because the questions are derived from the objectives more cleanly, and there aren’t as many trick questions. You still have to know a lot to pass, but at least they aren’t mixing topics as much as they did in previous exams.

Streams, Streams, Streams

While the exam seemed reasonable to me, I’m also very proficient in streams. It is an understatement to say they are all over the exam. If you don’t use them regularly, you’ll need a lot of practice before taking the exam. Remember, they can show up in almost any topic like NIO.2, Concurrency, Collections, etc.

Modules

Modules are on the exam but I found the questions a lot more straight-forward than the module questions I saw on the 1Z0-815 exam. I had a lot of trouble with the module questions on the 1Z0-815 exam, in part because a lot of them didn’t make sense or didn’t appear to have a correct answer. Given how early I took the exam, Jeanne suspects I might have been exposed to beta/experimental/broken questions. That said, I thought the module questions on the 1Z0-816 exam were a lot more fair than they were on the 1Z0-815 exam. You need to know a lot about modules, of course, but the topics the questions were testing were a lot clearer.

Still a Very Broad Exam

While questions within a topic were relatively straight-forward, the amount of topics you had to know for the 1Z0-816 exam dwarfs the 1Z0-809 exam. Annotations, Security, Local Type Inference, Private/Static Interface Methods, and Modules are completely new. You should read the Secure Coding Guideline and Annotations Trail prior to taking the exam. Unfortunately, there’s not one single source of material for modules so you have to study from what you can piece together on the web… that is until our new 1Z0-816 study guide is released!

So You Want to Take the Exam?

Great! If you’re not in a hurry, I would wait for our new study guides to come out. The first book is already on its way to print and the second book will be available early next year. You can use our OCP 8 Study Guide to take exam, but you will have to supplement it with a lot of reading from a dozen different sources. And as I said earlier, if you’re not using streams regularly, you will definitely need a lot of practice. Regardless of which path you take, we wish you the best in studying!

Announcing new Java 11 OCP Books!

Jeanne and I are thrilled to announce that we are releasing Java 11 OCP books early next year. Yes, you heard that right, books plural, as in more than one! In fact, we’ll be releasing two new books, along with a complete set edition.

We’ll post links where you can preorder the books as soon as they are available!

These books have been carefully written and include the most important information you need to know for the Java 11 OCP exams. While we are quite proud of our Java 8 books, there’s a lot of new material required for the exams including modules, var, and custom annotations just to name a few.

If you’re thinking of taking the new exams prior to the books’ release, we recommend reading our posts detailing our experiences taking the exams:

In short, if you’re comparing the first exam (1Z0-815) to the older OCA 8 (1Z0-808) exam, don’t. They are quite different and the difficulty level has definitely been increased. We expect both books to be available in early 2020. In fact, we’re nearly done writing the first book already!

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!