Registered: Nov 2001
I passed the exam - more tips
I got 90% in the ICE test a couple of times, so went in for the real exam yesterday. 72%. A pass (relief), but only just. I think I had a bad day (not firing on all cylinders), and could have done a lot better.
I concur with what others have said about the real exam. These are my extra comments.
The real title of this exam is "OOAD with UML, according to Larman and Fowler, as applied to business systems"
There are many approaches to UML, and many areas of application. If you want to pass the exam then forget the rest and remember the real title.
Fortunately, Larman and Fowler are both outstandingly good books.
Fowler - read and understand all of it. Pay particular attention to Chapters 3 to 8, and his excellent Appendix A. Fowler uses an intelligent subset of UML notation. It is the subset you need for the exam.
Larman. This is a big book, and you can't aim to remember all of it, but you will have to understand a lot of it. To filter your work, be guided by the exam content, as posted by IT Gal. 76% of the exam content is process, requirements, static and dynamic modelling. Larman's emphasis is on explaining each of these separately, and on tying them together. By the end of Chapter 26, you'll have enough for the exam. You'll also have a lot of details you don't need - check the IBM content checklist before spending a lot of time on some details (eg. you won't be asked "What are the artifacts of elaboration"). You also must know Chapter 30 - Architecture and the Layers pattern.
Obviously, do the ICE practice test, and research any difficult questions in Larman and/or Fowler, and on this forum.
Tips for experienced OOP/OOAD programmers
My own background is ten years OOP, 3 years Booch OO, and 2 years UML. You would expect that would be enough to roll over this exam. It wasn't. I found from the practice test that my depth of experience had given me biases, and blind spots, which were very hard to eliminate. I had to "unlearn" a lot of my own experience, and learn Larman's and Fowlers. I do not regret this - I have learn a lot.
My background is real time, aerospace systems. This background emphasises algorithms, dynamic interactions, and software structure. L & F emphasise data structures, domain modelling, and the external view of the system (ie. use cases). This is the emphasis you need for the exam.
I would expect that anyone with years of experience of systems programming in C++ would find it very hard to give up their software point of view, and move up to the business system point of view. You might keep seeing UML as just a high level notation for C++ programs.
Tips for non-OO programmers
My feeling about this exam is that it is mostly about business modeling and the UML process. There is not much which requires advanced OO techniques, but you will require a basic understanding of an OO language. Java is definitely the preferred language - learn enough of Java to be comfortable with Classes, subclasses, interfaces, and static methods and variables (in that order). If you have that, and a strong background in in commercial databases, then I expect you'll have enough to start Fowler and Larman. You might want to code and compile some of the designs, to get a better feel for implementation. On the other hand, if your own experience is, for instance, C programming in system software, then you are really going to have to put in a lot of work, and change the way you view software developement.
Overall - the weaker your background in OO or Business Systems, the more attention you will have to pay that side of it. Particularly, work examples in the areas of you weakness.
How much effort does it take
It has taken me about 5 months, part time, to prepare for this, however there were some wrong turns along the way. From the time that I started focusing on Larman and Fowler, I would say I have spent about 80 - 100 hours.
How hard is the exam?
Don't be frightened by what I and others have said about the exam. I would say that if you know L & F, then you will find 50% of it easy, 40% hard and 10% very hard. The practice test is a good guide to the exam content and style, but in terms of difficulty it is does not have as many easy questions, and the hard ones are not as hard as in the exam.
I don't know if there is anything you can do about this - but be warned. The Prometric test system is a slow computer with a 15'in monitor. Several of the questions involve a diagram which is about 4 times the size of the physical screen, so you have to scroll it to see the whole diagram, and it scrolls slowly. This is a very, very frustrating waste of time. Also, many of the questions offer two exhibits - a main exhibit which is the subject of the question, and a second exhibit with extra information to "help". You don't have time to look at both of them - because of the lousy viewing method. If you can answer the question from the first exhibit, then move on to the next question.
This is a tough exam (because of time, not because of the number of hard question) and exam technique may be the difference between passing and failing.
Good luck everyone. I'll come back in a few days to have a look at some of the questions in the forum which have still not been tied down.
OCSD - JDeveloper
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