Oracle announces raft of exam changes

Adios SCJP, Oracle introduces JDK7 exam standard and $600 OCP designation

It's been billed by some as the biggest change for the Java certification guidelines since its inception over a decade ago, but the recent alterations to the academic methods to certify Java professionals are sure to be met with some controversy.

The biggest change fundamentally within all examinations is that Oracle are now adopting JDK 1.7 as the test standard, and not Java 5 and 6 as previous test have done. This certainly seems logical - its been a banner year for the newest version of Java and it certainly seems right to usher in the new standard as the definitive test standard.

In an expected move, Oracle has ditched the old title of Sun Certified Java Professional (SJCP) and sensibly rebranded it as Oracle Certified Professional (OCP). Somehow, the Sun Microsystems name stuck around in the midst of the Oracle sale, probably because there was no need to rename an exam that hadn't changed.

But with the new name comes a new exam setup. From now on, candidates will have to undergo a tougher process to gain the rank of Java Professional, undertaking a two-step process. Firstly, they must take the Oracle Certified Associate exam (or as Oracle now refers to it -  the Java SE 7 Programmer I test) which then allows the candidate to qualify for the second stage - the Java SE 7 Programmer II test.

So, the multiple choice question format of old has been made that much harder, which can only be a good thing. If the new testing method is up to scratch and challenging then it's a great idea. Weaker developers could be weeded out earlier on and the cream of the crop will reap the dividends of the new system.

But with the introduction of a two-step process, exam fees will double to $600 (£388), assuming the current OCP exam price stays at $300 (£194). That price is a lot for students to become a Java 7 professional and whilst it may not put them off entirely, it could create disparity as only those with income could part with that money.

But not to fear, there is a cheaper alternative if you're quick enough. Oracle is still running the beta test at a fraction of the cost so if you can snap up a place, go for it! You can write the new Java SE 7 Programmer I test while it is in beta for only $50 before December 17. The second test isn't in the beta stage yet but should be available soon - meaning you could become a Java 7 professional at 1/6 of the price. 

Oracle also announced a new examination - OCE Java EE 6 Web Component Developer - just one exam for experienced developers (who already have SCJP/OCP Java 5 or 6 qualifications) to test their skills at deploying small-to-medium scale web applications.

Chris Mayer

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