How I prepared for Oracle’s OCA exam

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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25 Comments on “How I prepared for Oracle’s OCA exam”

  1. Freek says:

    7. verify the claims from the book with the oracle documentation (mainly concepts guide and administration guide). This will also help you with cases like in point 5.

    Learned this when studying for my 9i ocp certification. The books I used realy had a lot of wrong claims in it.

    Regards

    Freek

  2. Don Seiler says:

    Congrats! (even if you did misspell my surname) 😉

  3. coskan says:

    congrats. I wish you and also me good luck for OCP exam

  4. Adi Stav says:

    Congratulations 🙂

  5. Congratulations.
    I’ve recently decided to get Oracle Certifications too. My employer has not been so supportive as Don’s employer. Some time ago i’ve bought by myself Sybex books (http://www.bookpool.com/sm/0782143695). Now i’m studying during my free time. I don’t know if it will be very usefull, but i want try it

  6. prodlife says:

    Freek,

    This is so true! I did this a lot, and the book I used even referenced the concepts guide at some points which made verification a bit easier.

  7. prodlife says:

    Don,

    Thanks. I fixed the misspelling and I apologize for having it in the first place.

  8. prodlife says:

    Cristian,

    Thanks. Few employees are as nice as Don’s.
    I wish you best of luck.

    I also wish your blog would be in English, so I could read your posts too 🙂

  9. […] giorni fa ho letto un post  di Chen Shapira in cui annuncia di aver passato l’esame per la certificazione di primo livello […]

  10. It is my great regret: my english is very poor, i’m trying to learn it but to write a blog in English requires to me too much effort. Still compliments for your blog.

  11. Hi
    I have written a 66 page OCA 10g Study Guide and Exam Cram. It’s available for download from my website for free.

    Cheers – Steve

  12. Andy says:

    First of all congrats on passing. Secondly I agree with your point about studying for exams may actually help you become a better DBA. I found that a lot of things I learnt as a result of studying for the exams I dont actually use day to day due to us having a smaller database. Subsequently, we didnt use various skills which the studying helped me learn. Even if the exams arent worth the paper they’re written on, they certainly improve your overall knowledge (imho)

  13. […] I already explained my study method when I took the OCA. This time I followed a similar plan, with three main changes: […]

  14. lim says:

    congratulaions. I also plan to take OCA next month.

    cheers

    lim

  15. Nitin Joshi says:

    Hi,
    Congrats.
    Even my boss was telling me before exam why your wasting money?
    But not for the LOGOS on resume,i personally thinks for the basic knowledge it should(must) be given.

    Regards!

  16. Richilee says:

    Hi, guys:

    I am preparing for the OCA 11g. there are a few oracle 11g edition can be used individually in OTN network. which edition should I use to prepare for the OCA certification?

    By the way, I only have experience with Oracle 10g expression edition.

    Thanks a lot.

    Qi

  17. prodlife says:

    Qi,

    Standard edition will be fine. You can also download Enterprise edition – it has more features which don’t appear in OCA, but you can just ignore them.

  18. Oraclelearner says:

    Hi Chen,

    I also passed the 10g OCA exam. I am currently preparing for the OCP exam. Your advice on studying for the exam was very helpful.

  19. madhur khandelwal says:

    hi chen,

    i am preparing for oca(dba track).
    could you please guide me how to prepare for the exam.
    what all materials,books,sites will be benefical for the study.

    waiting for your reply………..

  20. pelemo olubukola says:

    pls can you please tell me on how to go about the exam, i learnt that sql must written b/4 you actually write oca proper

  21. Jasleniya Jagruti says:

    congratulation and i’m going to apply for this exam so wish me for that

  22. vig says:

    thanks 🙂


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