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Oracle 12C 1z0-061 certification [message #642773] Fri, 18 September 2015 12:51 Go to next message
dkennedy76
Messages: 3
Registered: September 2015
Junior Member
I found this exam extremely difficult and I failed.
I have been working in databases (Sybase for a few years and now Oracle for about eight). I have been writing sql queries, procedures, and packages for several years and I currently develop for a 24/7 database that's pretty involved, so I felt comfortable in a lot of areas, but knew that there were areas that required more study because I don't use them.
I bought the Oracle Press book OCA Oracle Database 12c SQL Fundamentals Exam Guide (1Z0-061) by Roopesh Ramklass. After studying the book and taking the provided test exam a few times, I felt like I was prepared enough to get the 65%. I was not. I got 61%.
Some of the questions were, to me, ridiculous, and in some cases very time-consuming. This led to me feeling like I couldn't spend too much time on any one question. 75 questions in 120 minutes is not that much time with the way this is written. And I'm usually a good test-taker and fairly fast. The things I felt were a little ridiculous and time-consuming were the ones that required me to spend too much time studying 5 possible sql answers and trying to match two that provide the same results. These were very tough to get through in an appropriate amount of time. Were there some short answer questions? Yes. But some were confusing as well. I don't know how long this exam has been out, but a couple I would argue were incorrect. They would ask for three items out of five and I could swear that 4 were true.
So what's the point? I have four points.
1. Study closely and pay attention to all the query questions that deal with finding two queries that do the same thing, or picking one that matches all the conditions. I thought I did that, but that's not how it turned out. Many of these are very tricky.
2. The book was not enough preparation and now that I have taken the test, I would not recommend it.
3. The exam is very long and I hope that Oracle gets enough feedback to understand that and also verifies all the questions again since I can think of two that might have been wrong.
4. I knew all of the sql that was displayed in this exam and yet I still got some wrong. That is very disconcerting since I don't know how to study for it. I guess I was not good at reading the problems or interpreting the question. Anyway, pay very close attention to the questions and the syntax differences.

[Updated on: Fri, 18 September 2015 12:52]

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Re: Oracle 12C 1z0-061 certification [message #642774 is a reply to message #642773] Fri, 18 September 2015 13:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
matthewmorris68
Messages: 258
Registered: May 2012
Location: Orlando, FL
Senior Member

1Z0-061 is one of the more commonly taken Oracle certification exams and has been out for IIRC about 2 years. The chances that there are any problems with incorrect answers is slim, and the chances that there are many is essentially zero.

I have used a number of Oracle Press books to prepare for certification exams over the years (although not this one). The content of them is almost invariably excellent... with a caveat about the end-of-chapter questions and practice exams. None of the included tests that I have used has ever felt anything like the real exam or contained mostly comparable questions and answers. They can be useful as a measure of reading comprehension (i.e. did you really read 'Chapter 4' or were you essentially dozing and turning the pages). However, in my opinion they are not a good indicator of whether someone is prepared for the real exam.

Because the SQL Fundamentals exams are non-proctored exams generally taken online, the questions are geared towards ones that cannot be answered by having a set of notes handy, or a book, or Google. The time frame is likewise tight specifically to prevent exam takers from being able to research questions as they answer them.

The questions with answers that are all SQL statements can indeed be some of the most time-consuming to answer. This is particularly true in the SQL Expert exam (1Z0-047) where the SQL is often a good bit longer than the SQL Fundamentals exams. Normally, however, the SQL statements are all almost identical. If you read each SQL statement individually, parse it in your head, and then move to the next one and do the same thing, you could spend 5-10 minutes on a single question. Instead scan through the clauses of the SQL statements rapidly to find the differences. Then evaluate the difference to eliminate answers An example sequence of checks might be:

All of the SELECT clauses are the same... check.
All of the WHERE clauses are the same... check.
The only difference appears to be the JOINs in the FROM clause.
The JOIN syntax in A is illegal -- ignore it.
The JOIN in B looks good.
The JOIN in C is using the wrong columns -- ignore it.
The JOIN in D looks good.
The JOIN in E has the wrong operator -- ignore it.

The correct answers are B and D.

The above sequence will be much faster than trying to evaluate the entirety of each SQL statement independently.


Beyond that, I don't know enough about the sections you missed (or why) to feel confident in suggesting a method to use in preparing further for the exam. The description of your background would have lead me to believe (prior to this post) that it plus Roopesh's book would have been sufficient to pass the exam. It does sound as if you felt rushed for time, which can often lead to poor decisions (i.e. you knew the correct answer, but picked the wrong one because you were in a hurry). My suspicion (based on admittedly insufficient information) is that your primary problem was testing technique/skill rather than knowledge. If you answer questions fast enough to stay ahead of the game time-wise, you tend to make better choices throughout the exam.

If that's the case, the normal solution would be to make use of an exam simulator. Take that suggestion with a grain of salt (or an entire salt shaker), since I am the creator of practice tests for Oracle exams on my Oracle Certification Prep site. However, other legitimate practice test vendors include Transcender and Self Test Software. Almost any other 'practice Test' vendor is actually providing illegal brain dumps, though, so I do not recommend them. The one exception is uCertify. It is generally acccepted that their practice tests are not brain dumps. However, I have heard many reports that they have severe quality control issues -- with typos, incorrect answers, and similar problems.

At 61%, you were only three questions from a passing score. However, from your background, I think you're capable to scoring considerably higher on this exam than the minimum.
Re: Oracle 12C 1z0-061 certification [message #642829 is a reply to message #642774] Mon, 21 September 2015 06:36 Go to previous messageGo to next message
dkennedy76
Messages: 3
Registered: September 2015
Junior Member
Matt - Thanks for the response. I tended to follow a review similar to what you mentioned to first make sure that the select and from clauses were the same, but I think I ran into time problems due to the correlated sub-queries. There were a lot of those on my exam and they tended to be very similar. The couple of questions that asked me to select the two that yielded the same result were particularly time-consuming.
I was completely shocked that I did that badly, as you can imagine. I've never failed a test in my life, but I never felt the need to get an Oracle certification, so this was the first time I thought I would document it. My wife got hers in a much earlier version and has never upgraded it because most folks didn't ask for it once she had worked for several years. She also said, after my experience, that it was much easier when she took it (I think we are going back to version 7).
The practice test that came with the book I had did not prepare me for that many of those types of questions. I saw all your references that you listed in an earlier post and I may take your practice exam if I decide to try again. Right now I'm so disgusted, I'm still mulling it over. Does your test have questions that provide the result and ask a user to select the query with correlated sub-queries that provide the answers? I think I will have to test my evaluation methodology on some of those. The sad thing is that I was always good at taking tests and I write correlated sub-queries in my current job, so I hope this result was an aberration of taking the test a little lightly and being tired.
Re: Oracle 12C 1z0-061 certification [message #642838 is a reply to message #642829] Mon, 21 September 2015 07:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
dkennedy76
Messages: 3
Registered: September 2015
Junior Member
I should mention one more thing. I had absolutely no questions on anything new with 12c. I expected at least one question about container and pluggable databases, Oracle Cloud implementation, etc., but there was nothing on that. Maybe it was just the questions selected by my test, but I was surprised by that.
Re: Oracle 12C 1z0-061 certification [message #642840 is a reply to message #642838] Mon, 21 September 2015 08:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
matthewmorris68
Messages: 258
Registered: May 2012
Location: Orlando, FL
Senior Member

Quote:
...no questions on anything new with 12c.


You wouldn't see questions in 1Z0-061 about CDBs or cloud because neither of those has any effect on SQL operations. The 12c questions, if you get any, should be about the new SQL features in 12c such as DEFAULT ON NULL, identity columns, the new row limiting functionality, etc.
Re: Oracle 12C 1z0-061 certification [message #642842 is a reply to message #642829] Mon, 21 September 2015 08:48 Go to previous messageGo to next message
matthewmorris68
Messages: 258
Registered: May 2012
Location: Orlando, FL
Senior Member

Quote:
Does your test have questions that provide the result and ask a user to select the query with correlated sub-queries that provide the answers?


I scanned through my 061 test quickly and didn't see a question using a correlated subquery in that fashion. There were a couple using non-correlated subqueries. The practice test contains roughly thirty questions where all of the answers are SQL statements. Of those, roughtly a third are large enough that test takers need to evaluate them efficiently lest they use up too much time.


Quote:
I hope this result was an aberration of taking the test a little lightly and being tired.


Both are cardinal sins. I've recently had to retire some of my complacency about Oracle exams. I've been taking them since 1998 and routinely passing them with ease, but the exams they have been creating since 12c came out have definitely increased in difficulty. As for tired -- I try to scheduled certification exams to start between 9-11AM (with 10AM being preferred). This is late enough in the morning that I have fully woken up. Starting around noon I'm liable to be distracted by thoughts of lunch. For an hour or two after after lunch I'm thinking wistfully of siestas. By three o'clock, unless I've taken the day off, I'm liable to be tired/grumpy from work.
Re: Oracle 12C 1z0-061 certification [message #642848 is a reply to message #642773] Mon, 21 September 2015 11:54 Go to previous messageGo to next message
John Watson
Messages: 6853
Registered: January 2010
Location: Global Village
Senior Member
Dennis, first let me do the moderator bit:

Welcome to the forum. Please read our OraFAQ Forum Guide and How to use [code] tags and make your code easier to read

Second, I'm going to split this off into its own topic.

Third, I just want to take you up on this,Quote:
2. The book was not enough preparation and now that I have taken the test, I would not recommend it.
I can't speak for my buddy Roopesh, and this book was all his own work. But we wrote the 11.x version together, and I wouldn't think the approach has changed that much. The Oracle Press idea is not to produce a pure exam-crammer, but rather to teach the subject matter. The idea is that if you have learnt to program in Oracle SQL, then you will pass the exam. However, we never say that the book is any sort of guarantee. I would hope that every examined topic is covered (though we are sometimes caught out by late or undocumented changes in exam content) but the dummy quesions are definitely not intended to simulate the real thing they are just an attempt to let you check whether you are OK with the subject matter likely to be tested.

Is the book really good enough by itself? Possibly not. But is it better than any alternative? Well, perhaps. It realy does sound as though you should have passed, though.

Next time!
--
John Watson
Oracle Certified Master DBA
http://skillbuilders.com




Re: Oracle 12C 1z0-061 certification [message #642849 is a reply to message #642842] Mon, 21 September 2015 12:03 Go to previous messageGo to next message
John Watson
Messages: 6853
Registered: January 2010
Location: Global Village
Senior Member
Well, Matthew, we have totally opposed exam techniques. I like to do them all in one go. Recently I did the 12c RAC beta and the 12c Data Guard beta in one day, 6 hours with just a 30 min break in the middle. I find that I can really get stuck into it with a long period of no interruption. If I were thirty years younger, I would probably say that I get "in the zone". Of course, I don't know if I passed them.
Re: Oracle 12C 1z0-061 certification [message #642850 is a reply to message #642849] Mon, 21 September 2015 12:58 Go to previous message
matthewmorris68
Messages: 258
Registered: May 2012
Location: Orlando, FL
Senior Member

Quote:
Well, Matthew, we have totally opposed exam techniques. I like to do them all in one go


I have never doubted that we have a vastly different mindset since learning that you take beta exams for fun, John. Smile

That said -- I've taken exams that way too. When the certification program first started -- the Oracle 7 DBA OCP was five exams. I was working for Oracle at the time and they actually had Prometric build a testing lab in a building next door to where Oracle Support Orlando was. We were allowed to take as many exams as we wanted on the day they were there. I took three of the OCP exams in the morning back-to-back, then went to lunch and took two more back-to-back that afternoon. I passed them all... but I certainly don't believe that taking them this way optimized my chances for passing them.

Taking multiple tests in a single day is certainly not something that I would suggest for someone taking their first Oracle certification exam... which is basically the situation for Dennis.
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