Oracle Certification: 10 Tips for any Exam

These tips will help you to prepare for and pass any Oracle certification exam. The specific links used in the article are for 1Z0-052: Oracle Database 11g: Administration I, but the advice is applicable to any exam.

Tip #1 -- Start with the Exam Details page at the Oracle Education site

Write down the exam duration, number of questions, and the passing score. The amount of time you will have per question varies widely between tests. Use the number of questions and exam duration to calculate it (77 seconds for 1Z0-052).  Every question has an equal weight on Oracle exams, so you can calculate the number of questions that can be missed and still pass the exam (23 for 1Z0-052).

Tip #2 -- Click on the Exam Topics page for the exam

You should verify that it is one you want to take.  Do the topics make sense for the job you do (or want to do)? If so, copy these topics and paste them into a file on your computer.  This is your checklist of information to learn.  Until you are comfortable with all of the topics, do not schedule the exam.

Tip #3 -- Find the Oracle documentation relevant to the exam

I normally search Google for something like 'oracle 11.2 Documentation'.  Pull down the PDF copies of any manuals for the exam or bookmark the HTML versions.  Most manuals also have Mobi and ePub versions that you can download for your e-reader.

Tip #4 -- Read the �2 Day' documents

Oracle has created a number of �2 Day' documents.  An example is the 2 Day DBA.  If you are new to the exam topics, and there is 2-Day document relevant to the exam, read it.  The document won't cover all of the information you need, but it will be a reasonable place to start.

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Tip #5 -- Don't Google for study materials by exam number

Using Google to search for study materials with the exam number is just about useless. Almost all of the hits will lead to brain dumps.  Use Google to search for individual exam topics from the list (e.g. �Describe ways to tune instance recovery') and you will have better luck

Tip #6 -- Take notes

I have found it very useful to keep a set of notes while I'm studying. I write down key facts, parameters, commands, etc. that I think I'll see on the exam. The act of writing this information down helps me to memorize the information. Also, once I have completed my research, having the notes handy to re-read helps bring back to mind everything I studied.

Tip #7 -- Arrive early for your exam -- very early

I try to get to the testing center an hour or more before my scheduled time. I'll visit the check-in attendant to make sure that everything is ready for my exam. Then I'll go back outside the center and read over my notes until just a few minutes before the exam. This ensures I have much of the information I'll need in short term memory.

Tip #8 -- Don't skip questions

If you get to a question and you have no idea about the answer, pick one at random, mark the question and move on. You can't afford to waste time agonizing over it. Unanswered questions are always wrong.  Answering it at least gives you a chance of getting it correct.

Tip #9 -- If you have the slightest doubt, mark the question!

Mark every question that you aren't *positive* that you got right. Be conservative. If there is any uncertainty, mark it. When you get to the end of the test, a screen will open with all of the marked questions. Compare the count of marked questions to the number you calculated that could be missed in step 1.  If you have marked well below the calculated number, you probably passed the test.

Tip #10 -- Use any remaining time to check your work

If you have sufficient time, go back over the marked questions. I have often found that later questions will contain information that will allow me to answer ones I was uncertain about earlier. Even if this is not the case, going back over them a second time may allow you to pick up a few additional points.


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Matthew Morris is an experienced DBA and developer. He holds Oracle DBA Certifications for releases 7, 8i, 9i, 10G and 11G; is an Oracle Advanced PL/SQL Developer Certified Professional; and holds Oracle Expert Certifications for SQL, SQL Tuning, and Application Express. He is the author of several Oracle certification guides. His Web site,, is dedicated to providing links to resources for Oracle certification preparation.