Oracle Database 11g: Advanced PL/SQL (1Z0-146)…

Lewis Cunningham recently mentioned on twitter that he had taken this exam and it reminded me I had been meaning to take it ever since it was announced in beta, but never actually got round to it. A quick search of my blog revealed it’s nearly 2 years since I mentioned I wanted to sit this exam (here).

So yesterday I sat and passed the exam and here are some thoughts on it (without mentioning specifics about the questions)…

This is the first time I’ve sat an OCP exam done by Pearson VUE and I was pleasantly surprised. The test interface is a little cleaner and more modern looking that previous exams I’ve taken. There was one minor glitch in that every time there were two exhibits they were shown in the wrong order, such that when the question asked you to look at Exhibit 1, the content it was referring to was in Exhibit 2 and vice versa. For most questions this was obvious, but there was one that if you followed the instructions to the letter would have made the question impossible to answer correctly. Of course, if you had seen the glitch on the other questions it wasn’t a leap to assume the same problem was present on this question also.

The SQL and PL/SQL exams use lots of exhibits and some can be quite big. In a number of cases the questions can be answered without referral to the exhibits if you know your stuff because the incorrect answers reference “facts” about PL/SQL that are blatantly not true. Even when you do have to refer to the exhibits, I would suggest you treat it like you are debugging code and read the question and possible answers before reading the exhibit. Why? You don’t start debugging code before you know what the errors are. In the same way, if you know the possible answers you can ignore the majority of code in the exhibit and focus on the area of interest. Reading the whole exhibit would take ages, so be efficient about it. Ignore the fact the question tells you to look at the exhibits first and you will answer the questions much faster.

The exam is very much 11.1 focussed, so there are a few questions where the “correct” answer is somewhat dubious if you have been using 11.2 for a while. Keep in mind the 11.1 state of play and don’t try and be too clever. That said, for the most part the 11.1/11.2 issue is irrelevant.

The context of a question is a very important thing and one that I think the OCP questions sometimes lack. As an example, one question asks you which of the 4 answers can be produced by a specific built in package. The correct answer as far as I’m concerned is all four, but it is rare that questions need all answers to be checked, so this is where you need to put on your PL/SQL hat. As a direct call from PL/SQL only two answers are correct, but if you call the API via a query all four answers are possible. So you have to make a judgement call as to what context the examiners are using. I figured, as it’s a PL/SQL exam, I should ignore SQL and that turned out to be the correct move.

There were only two questions that I didn’t know the complete answer to directly, but in both cases, using a process of elimination I was pretty confident I had a reasonable shot at the correct answer. Even if you don’t know every fact relating to a subject you can usually elimitate some of the answers, which will up your odds. Don’t panic.

The exam is scheduled for 90 mins and I was done in a little over 30 mins. The examiner gave me a bit of a look when I came out that early, and another when he saw my 100% score. I just smiled and told him I’d been doing PL/SQL for 16 years and had been teaching the contents of this exam for over 2 years. It would have been a little tragic if I hadn’t come close to 100% really…

So I guess in the next few days I’ll recieve my “Oracle Advanced PL/SQL Developer Certified Professional” bumf. I quite fancy doing something else now. I obviously spent too many years in education and I need an exam fix every so often. :)

Cheers

Tim…

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