People pursuing an Oracle certification exam often ask how much time they should allocate to prepare for the test. Unfortunately, there are so many variables involved in the amount of time required that most answers are simply a shot in the dark. No one can provide a specific preparation timeline for someone who they know nothing about. Generally the best that anyone can do is to indicate how long they studied for the same exam. That said, what can be done is to provide some low and high values to give you a range to work with. To that I can add some examples of the data points that are a factor in altering the study time up or down.
I have taken about twenty Oracle certification tests. The study time varied widely among them for a number of reasons. However, as a rule of thumb, I tend to spend four to six weeks preparing for any given test. The actual time I spend studying is on the order of eighty to a hundred hours during that period. I would put eighty to a hundred hours forward as a low-end for preparation time. I’m a fast reader; I have been working with Oracle for over sixteen years; and I generally know a fair amount of the subject being tested before I ever begin formally preparing for the exam. The only way that I could see a candidate spending much less time than that studying would be for someone who is truly an expert in the topics covered by the test. I would put the high-end preparation time at three times the low-end. Call it 240 to 300 hours of study time. Given fifteen hours of study time a week, you would need sixteen to twenty weeks to prep for the exam.
To estimate how long it might take you to study for a given test, begin by assuming it will take about the midpoint of the high and low numbers, or 190 hours. Then ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you already know the topic well, or are you just learning it? If you know it well, subtract ten or twenty hours. If you are new to the topics being tested, add ten or twenty. If you have some familiarity but not a lot, leave the number as is.
- Are you a fast reader with good reading comprehension? If so, drop ten or twenty hours. If you are a slow reader, or need to read something several times to retain it, then add ten or twenty hours.
- The Oracle documentation is an excellent source for preparing for the test, but the information is generally dispersed among multiple manuals, which will slow you down. If you are using this to study rather than a third-party source that gathers the information into a single source, add fifteen or twenty hours.
- Can you really not afford to fail this test and have to pay to retake it? If so, you should probably add another ten or twenty hours to give you that much better chance to pass the test on the first attempt.
There are other factors to consider, and more questions that you can ask yourself. The above list should provide a sufficient start to allow you to refine the estimate to best fit your situation. The key phrase is ‘your situation.’ The amount of study time required has very little bearing on the test itself. It depends almost entirely on your abilities and current level of knowledge. Whatever you do, be sure not to underestimate. There has never been a time when I have been in a testing center taking an Oracle exam where I wished that I had spent a little less time preparing. Don’t schedule the test until you are confident that you are prepared to pass it. Everything in here is just making an estimate, if you spend three hundred hours preparing and still are not confident that you know the materials, then study some more. The worst thing that can happen is to take it before you are ready and fail.
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