Saturday, February 22, 2014

The *right* way to take an Oracle beta exam (finally)

Oracle beta exams and I are not the best of friends.  I have already noted that on my blog in two earlier posts:

However, the GBU article was about my first experience with an Oracle beta, which was bad largely due to insufficient preparation on my part. The 'Worst-laid plans' article was really more about how monumentally bad planning, preparation, and follow-through for an exam can spiral into a horror story. This is true even when the exam is not a beta or not, but bad preparation for an exam with three times the questions is more than three times the horror.

For both of the previous beta exams, the opportunity to take them for free was something that happened at the last minute. I had the choice of either taking the exams without being prepared or missing out entirely. In this case, I was offered a free voucher for the 1Z1-497: Oracle 12c Database Essentials exam via the Oracle Partner Network in early January. This allowed plenty of time to research the topics for the exam fully. The initial draft of my study guide for the exam was completed a couple of weeks before the scheduled exam date.

This time I followed my normal testing routine by arriving at the testing center a full hour before the scheduled exam start. I checked in with the desk to ensure it was the correct testing location and that everything was prepared. The remaining time until the exam was spent re-reading the portions of my study materials for the sections I was least comfortable with. Once done with that, I put the materials up, returned to the desk and was able to start the exam fifteen minutes early. The difference in mental attitude and clarity was light years off my last beta testing experience in December where (largely through my own errors) I started the test an hour late, frustrated, and angry.

This exam went very smoothly and I am comfortable that the result will be a passing score. I will not claim that this experience has completely reversed my opinion on betas.  They are still really long. You still have less time per question (this exam was around a minute per question). You will still encounter errors in the exam. You still have to wait at least eleven weeks to learn whether or not you passed the exam. However, when you go in for a beta exam well-prepared for the material you will be tested on, the experience is only mildly more painful than the production version of the exam.