Wednesday, April 05, 2006

java certification

I passed the Sun Certified Java Programmer (SCJP) 1.4 exam this week, getting 45 out of 61 questions. It's as much a memory exercise as a test of understanding--if you can pack your brain with enough mnemonic tricks to retain dozens of arcane details, you can pass, even without understanding how they function together. No, that's not really true--the number of details necessary to remember to pass exceeds my capacity for remembering arbitrary facts.

It's easier to remember that which you can understand. Memory via brute strength is inefficient. Understanding happens slowly by encountering a plain fact in enough different contexts that eventually you create enough associations that the conceptual basis for "interface methods cannot be static" for example, becomes apparent. Then it becomes easy to remember or better yet, you don't have to remember, you can reconstruct what makes sense from the web of associations built around a fact. The contextual basis of memory.

Or something. I don't expect to make much sense while recovering from memory overload.

For most of the questions you either know the answers, or not. There is little or no "figuring out", because it tests knowledge rather than problem-solving ability. And the multiple-answer style of many questions (select the two correct answers among the six) virtually eliminates the benefit of guessing.

The pissant erstwhile strictness of the exam, which includes several threats, is obnoxious and comical. The woman in charge of giving the test, though "Prometric certified", was easygoing and allowed me, in a breach of protocol, to take my coffee into the test room, to make up for the fact that I had to wait. Though I was scheduled for 9:30, anytime that day was fine she said. Since she was having trouble downloading the test I went to the library for an hour. Some people say that last-minute studying does no good but that last hour helped me--I got two or three questions right thanks to that last review.

No comments: