Hints on OCA/OCP exam technique


Part of my job is teaching for Oracle University, and I'm often asked about OCP exam technique. Here are a few hints. The OCM exam is very different, and the confidentiality rules forbid me from discussing it, so please don't ask.

An OCA/OCP exam will be sixty to a hundred multiple choice questions, but they are not always "choose the best answer". Sometimes the questions will ask you to "choose all correct answers" or "put the answers in the correct order". Some questions are easy, some are hard. Some are confusing. You might be asked (for example) to "choose the best answer", and you will think "all the answers are wrong!" or perhaps "but two of the answers are correct!" In that case, read the question very carefully, and you may eventually see what they are wanting; the questions are often very precisely worded.
The questions are fair, and do not require feats of memory. You will not (for example) be asked if a view name is V$DATAFILE or V$DATA_FILE. But you might be asked whether V$DATAFILE or DBA_DATA_FILES is visible when the the database is in mount mode. Fair enough: you should know whether a view is populated from the instance, the controlfile, or the data dictionary. This is not a matter of spelling, it is something you can work out.
The exam technique you should follow is to go through all the questions as quickly as possible: answer the ones you know, mark the ones don't (there is an option to do that). That first run through will take you half the time. Then spend the rest of the time going over the questions you marked again, and again. At the end, there will still be a few questions where you have no idea: just guess - there are no marks deducted for errors. The mistake you must not make is to try to do the questions in order, because you will run out of time. And there might have been some very easy questions at the end, that you never looked at.
When it comes to guessing, there is an algorithm you can apply. I make no claims for this, but I think it works. Thanks to Kevin Meade for it. If you are not confident with the material, and no answers make sense, it is probably better to choose "true" (if that is a choice), or a real answer if there is a "none of the above". The rationale is that the exam is intended to test what you know, not what you do not know. Whereas if you are well prepared, and no answers make sense, choose "false", or "none of the above. The rationale is that if you know the material, and no answers make sense to you, that is probably because none of them do make sense. So when all else fails, guess based on your sense of familiarity with the material: (unfamiliar=>true/some real choice, familiar=>false/none-of-the-above).
Finally, some people try to learn from "dumps". What they mean by "dumps" is copies of exam questions. These are usually either illegal, or useless, or both. You can buy sets of sample questions from reputable publishers, or from Oracle University: these may be legal, but they are not adequate preparation. Sure, you can use the Oracle Uni samples to test your knowledge - but they are not the questions that will be presented in the exam. If you want a trial run, why not book the exam, and have a go? That will cost you about the same as the sample questions, and it is the real thing. And you never know, you might pass. The illegal questions that you may be able to download are often seriously misleading: their only value (thanks to Michel Cadot for this)is if you attempt to work out whether the supposed answers are in fact correct.
I won't say "good luck" - you don't need luck, if you study the subject matter.