The Road from Oracle8i to Oracle9i Certification
July 3, 2003
There are many options for study material when wanting to upgrade your Oracle8i certification to Oracle9i. Come along with me and explore what I used and how I did.
If you are an Oracle8i OCP DBA, you should know by now that you need only pass the upgrade exam to become Oracle9i certified. There are numerous study materials to choose from; however, I used only two criteria to make my selections. Firstly, I personally chose based on the most cost effective method, coupled with quality, to determine what it was I truly needed. Secondly, I chose those materials that I could get the most bang out in for the least amount of time. Each of the material and resources used in my quest for certification had been sitting on the shelf for quite some time. They had never been opened or looked at. I had been using Oracle9i for some time but would not say that I have used all the new features. So, let's take a look at the resources and the time it took me to become certified.
Self Study CD-ROM
I have used these computer based training materials before and all in all, they are very good in the content that give, the order of presentation and thoroughness of the subject matter. The questions for review are also usually very good and test the skills that you were supposed to have learned. The problem that I have with this method of training is that it seems to take forever to get through the material and I end up day dreaming a lot. In addition, they tend to introduce the topic too much and I get very frustrated with having to click through the intros just to get to the real content. The time that they suggest it will take you is about 5 hours. While I did not use this CBT for this training go round, I did use the Oracle8i CBTs and felt they underestimated the time they were supposed to take. I would give myself a good 2 or 3 times the suggested time especially if you are not familiar with any of the new features of Oracle9i.
This was the first book to come off the shelf. The number of pages is not overwhelming so I personally set out to complete this book in two sittings. I read straight through this book with very little testing and validation of the subject matter. I really only wanted to get a quick read on the new features and since I had other material that had examples and testing questions on the subject matter I got through this book in my allotted 2 days. These two days consisted of typically a few reading time slices and totaled around 12 hours for the full book. I felt that this book gave me a very good, quick insight into the new features but it did not really drill into my brain the subject matter. To test my own theory of this, I decided to take one of the quick tests that I had in my self-test software. The outcome was pretty much what I expected, 54%. Well, what can you expect with just reading a book and not applying any of it? I will say one thing about this book. Even though I did not score high on the first practice test, I did feel that I got a grasp of the types of new features that Oracle has. I just didn't get a good grasp of all the intricacies or the features and the optional settings that should have boosted my score up.
After not quite scoring a passing grade on my first practice test, I decided to put a bit more effort into my studying. To do this, I grabbed this next book off my shelf. This book was quite different than the first new features book I read. It was much more inclusive of the options with many examples to work through with questions and summaries at the end of the chapters. I really felt that this book drilled in the subject matter for most topics. Do not brush off the first new features book that I read, remember it only had 244 pages and this has nearly 200 more! Although I will say the print is a bit bigger and there is more white space around examples that push this book to its size. I allotted myself one week to go through this book. I typically studied in between projects at work and a few hours a night at home, plus dedicated two full days to nothing else. If I had to put hours around the time I spent it would have to around 50 hours or so. In addition to just reading through the chapters and actually answering the questions at the end of the chapters, this book also has three practice exams at the end of the book. I decided to take these and ended up getting within the mid 70's for each of the exams. This made me feel the time spent was well worth the 20% increase in my score. This book also claims to cover 100% of the official exam. I sure hope so. As a final note, I do not think this book will stay on the shelf after I have taken the exam, it has a lot of great information, and its commentary on Oracle9i and past versions of Oracle are invaluable.
Self Test Software
This software has come a long way from when I used it for my Oracle8i certification. There has always been the in depth and enormous amounts of questions that you can study. Now they have added flash cards and an online mentor / chat system where you can actually ask someone questions on those topics of which you are still unsure. They have also added a great print function to the current version of this software so that you can actually print out every question and answer to study off-line. You also have the option of printing the concept or explanation of the answer to help you in your studies. The way to use this self-test software is continually taking the practice exams until you don't get any of the questions wrong. While I would suggest that you research why you get something wrong if you do not understand the topic, I do know of DBAs that have just memorized all of the questions and answers and have passed the test.
You should also know that Oracle has a full blown-out web site dedicated for education and certification. You should visit this site every now and then to determine if you are on the proper track and nothing has changed in the methods to becoming certified. If you are like me at all, you may purchase your study material months in advance, fully intending to study but never getting around to it. This information is invaluable when validating you certification path. Just go to http://www.oracle.com/education and click on the 'Get Certified' link for information on:
There may be those of you out there that may need more than what I had at my fingertips. There are many companies and a few websites that cater to teaching and prepping you for certification. I personally just like to stick what works for me and won't cost me an arm and a leg in time and money. Yes, I still like having a book in hand so it can lull me to sleep at night but after using some of the CBTs available, I might just make the switch next time to CBT / website training for that next certification level. Well I'm ready, are you?