How I prepared for Oracle’s OCA examPosted: September 28, 2007
Hurray! Hurray! I just passed the OCA exam!
I’ll follow Don Seiler’s idea and try to help other DBAs by describing how I prepared for the exam.
- I was a production DBA for over three years prior to taking the exam. This experience was critical for passing the exam, because it is rather difficult to memorize 500 pages. Experience puts things in context, making them easier to remember. Also, you don’t have to memorize the things you do several times a week.
- I used only Oracle 10g OCP Certification All-in-One Exam Guide , I can’t say it is perfect, but it was good enough. One thing that really confused me is that the book gave a lot of attention to how to do tasks in the db console, it had tons of screenshots and explanations. I never used dbconsole in my life, and I assumed that being familiar with how to perform tasks in the dbconsole will be important part of the exam, so I spent tons of time studying these screenshots. Turned out it was completely useless.
- I studied for the exam for about three weeks. Reading about a chapter every day. I’m not sure it is a recommended method, by the time I finished reading the book and started the sample exams I discovered that I forgot much of the first chapters. Next time I may try taking a week off before the test and really immerse myself in the material.
- The weekend before the exam, I hiked up Mount Shasta. Probably not a good study method, but it was lots of fun and therefore highly recommended.
- The day before the exam a co-worker lent me his study book. I don’t remember which one it was, but I do remember that it was rather different than what I used. I was especially confused by the fact that his book claimed that Dictionary Cache is used to cache parsed SQL statement and is an optional structure and that you can’t install Oracle with OUI if you don’t export ORACLE_HOME and ORACLE_SID first. Now, I know Oracle’s memory structures inside out, but a day before the exam these kind of things can really shake your confidence. I recommend learning from more than one source, but I don’t recommend swapping the source one day before the exam.
- Read every question several times and then go back and review. During the review I found out that a question I first understood as “which tablespaces can’t be taken offline” was actually “which tablespaces can be taken offline”, there is no reason to lose points to something silly like this.
Good luck to all of you studying for the exam. I know there is a lot of controversy regarding the certifications – whether they are worth anything or mean anything. I’m pretty sure you can be a bad DBA, study for the exam and pass, but I also think that studying for the exam made me a slightly better DBA, because reviewing the basics is always important, because there were some tasks I always did in a certain way and while studying I learned there are other ways to do it, and because I never knew how to use profiles, do external authentication or connect with ezconnect before studying for this exam.