Learning New Things : What About Exams/Certification?


I’ve covered the subject of exams and certifications a number of time over the years. Where Oracle certifications are concerned you can read my thoughts on the subject in this certification FAQ, or watch me talking about it whilst driving, back in the days when I had a car. 🙂

I feel an exam should only be important if it is part of your process.

  • If an exam is a goal that gets you off your ass to start learning something that’s great.
  • If an exam syllabus is something you use to help organise your learning process that is also good.
  • If you need the piece of paper for your job, then I guess you better do it, even if it is not part of your process.
  • If you just enjoy doing exams them because you “gotta catch-em all” like Alex Zaballa, that’s fine. Although you do have a problem Alex! 🙂

The important thing is you are learning and progressing as an individual. If you are cramming to pass an exam then forget everything, I think you’re wasting your time and making the certification look shitty. It’s just my opinion, but that is not personal development.

Another thing that concerns me is blind adherence to the exam syllabus. This is very much a starting point, not the end goal. In the past I used to stick rigidly to the OCP syllabus until I had passed the exam, then start looking at other areas. Now I find myself going off on tangents all the time. There is often far more interesting stuff that is not on the syllabus. I think that’s reflected in the fact I often had a complete set of OCP upgrade exam notes within a few months of the GA release. For the 12cR1 exam it took me years because I was spending more time writing about stuff that wasn’t on the syllabus. 🙂

I’m not saying my opinion on all this is correct. I just think the piece of paper is worthless. It’s the journey that counts!

Check out the rest of this series here.



Author: Tim...

DBA, Developer, Author, Trainer.

One thought on “Learning New Things : What About Exams/Certification?”

  1. I agree for a large part with your certification philosophy. I’ve always used the preparation for OCP upgrade exams to make sure I was on track for the new Oracle database version.

    The Oracle OCP exams are very theoretical though. As a new experience I very much liked the practical Hortonworks (Hadoop) certification exams. They give you a Hortonworks Data Platform and give assignments like this part doesn’t work and it’s up to you fix it or install something or grant a user. In any way you like.

    I wrote my thoughts on that in my blog:

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