Saturday, December 14, 2013

The worst-laid plans of mice and men...

Oracle beta exams have their good points. However I normally prefer to wait for the production version. In this case, though, one of the winners of the 1Z0-062 voucher contest I held on this blog a couple of months ago got one through their employer after the contest was finished. The contest was over and there were no other valid entries to give it to. A brother of one of my coworkers had expressed interested in becoming Oracle certified, so I offered it to him. He considered it, but eventually decided not to. With time running out on the beta and an unused voucher, I decided to take the exam myself. The test does nothing for me since I am already an 11g OCP, but taking it could be useful in preparing my study guide for the exam.

That said -- what possessed me to schedule the exam on Friday the 13th?

Even before I realized what I had done, I knew that the beta was not going to be pretty. Normally I make sure I am well prepared before I ever schedule a certification exam. In this case, the first draft of my guide for 1Z0-062 is only about three-quarters complete.  However, with December 14th being the last day of the beta, I had to schedule it or lose out on the chance. The Pearson Vue center I normally use is not open on Saturdays, so that left Friday (I didn't really pay attention to the day of the month). I did a quick read through on the sections I have not researched yet and hoped for the best. For the record... this is an extremely bad plan.

Normally (there's that word again) when I am taking a certification exam, I make sure that I arrive at the testing center thirty to sixty minutes before my scheduled exam start. I check in with the desk to ensure I am in the right place and everything is set up, and then spend the time until the exam doing some last minute cramming. Yesterday, events conspired to keep me from leaving the house until I had just enough time to make it to the center. I thought it wouldn't be a problem. The testing center was at a community college where I have taken several exams previously. On this occasion, once I signed in at the desk, rather than taking me in to start the exam (as they have every time before), they sent me out to the lobby where about fifteen people were already waiting. I sat there for about twenty minutes watching other people get called in before one of the proctors came out and indicated that there was a problem. More people were in the room than they had on their list.

It turns out -- I (and many other people in the room) were in the wrong building. We were scheduled at the other testing center located halfway across the campus. After a hike and some time waiting in a different room, I finally got to start my exam -- exactly an hour after it was originally scheduled.

Regarding the exam itself -- John Watson contacted me after he took the exam three months ago and said he thought it was harder than it has been in the past. I would have to agree wholeheartedly. I would also add that it is even more difficult when you are not well prepared and are in a really foul mood before hitting the 'Begin Test' button.

It was not until after I got back home that it dawned on me that 'today' was Friday the 13th. It would be nice if I could point to that and seriously believe the problems were not my fault but were instead just a matter of 'bad luck'. Unfortunately, that was not the root cause here. I did not properly prepare for the exam and I did not follow my normal procedures for ensuring everything was correct at the testing center. The only positive factors are that I took the exam for free and that the results will not impact me one way or another. One thing is for sure -- I will make sure to plan better before scheduling my next certification exam.