GuidesThe Sun Certified Java Programmer Certification, Versions 1.2 and 1.4

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In the last Java certification article, see (“Java 2 Certifications: An Introduction”), you briefly covered the total certification path Sun has established for Java programmers along with the SCJP 5.0 exam. As seen in the graph below, from Sun’s Web site, there are several certification paths Java developers can follow.

Java has developed these different paths to better fit different career goals Java developers may have. But, you can see that all these paths begin with the SCJP certification. Sun wants all Sun Certified Professionals to pass this first certification because it demonstrates proficiency with the Java programming language and tools. As mentioned in the previous article, this is based on the J2SE platform.

To achieve the SCJP credential, you need to pass only one exam. There are five exam choices that you can select from. The newest offering is the exam based from the Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition 5.0. To learn more on this exam, visit or see the previous article from the link above.

You also can pass exams based on the Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition 1.4 or 1.2 as well. If you already hold a Java certification and want to earn your SCJP on a newer Java technology, you might be able to choose from one of the upgrade exams.

All of the exams you can choose from include:

The remainder of this article will cover the exams based on the 1.4 and 1.2 platforms.

SCJP—Java 2 Platform, Standard Editions 1.4 and 1.2

The most recent J2SE platform is version 5.0 (or 1.5.0, as seen in some documentation). However, Sun certification still recognizes SCJPs who test on the previous two platforms, versions 1.2 and 1.4. These platforms are somewhat aging, particularly 1.2 that dates back to the late ’90s. No indication was given on Sun’s Web site, as of this writing, that either of these versions would not be tested on in the near future. However, if you are thinking of studying and testing on these versions, it might be in your best interest, particularly with version 1.2, to contact Sun and find out if there is any intent to stop testing on a particular platform. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot time studying on a platform that is removed from examination before you get to test on the technology.

As you can imagine, moving from 1.2 to 1.4, and ultimately to 5.0, Sun has added new technologies along with removing other items as platform versions move forward. What this means to you is if you are familiar with one platform you probably will have a good grasp of other platforms, but beware that certification exams of newer technology versions generally like to examine fairly strongly on new features. Therefore, be ready to learn all differences between platforms because this will most likely help you on the exam.

To see the differences between what Sun wants you to know for platform 1.4 vs. 1.2, the following lists contain the objectives lists for each exam:

Platform 1.4 Exam Objectives

  • Section 1: Declarations and Access Control
  • Section 2: Flow control, Assertions, and Exception Handling
  • Section 3: Garbage Collection
  • Section 4: Language Fundamentals
  • Section 5: Operators and Assignments
  • Section 6: Overloading, Overriding, Runtime Type, and Object Orientation
  • Section 7: Threads
  • Section 8: Fundamental Classes in the java.lang Package
  • Section 9: The Collections Framework

Platform 1.2 Exam Objectives

  • Section 1: Declarations and Access Control
  • Section 2: Flow Control and Exception Handling
  • Section 3: Garbage Collection
  • Section 4: Language Fundamentals
  • Section 5: Operators and Assignments
  • Section 6: Overloading, Overriding, Runtime Type, and Object Orientation
  • Section 7: Threads
  • Section 8: The java.awt Package
  • Section 9: The java.lang Package
  • Section 10: The java.util Package
  • Section 11: The Package

To keep the article concise, I have left out the details of the different sections seen in the lists above. Under each section you will find that Sun has left you with certain skills you must be able to perform, concepts you need to master, and Java fundamentals you will need to internalize to succeed on either exam. To see a full and current listing of these items for both exams, check out Look for exam CX-310-035 for platform 1.4 and CX-310-025 for platform 1.2.

Keeping up-to-date with exam objectives is critical as you study. First, obviously they are your benchmark for exam success. Use them as a list that you can check off as you master each item. Second, stay current on the objectives because exam vendors can change objectives, so to avoid studying for items you will not need to know, be sure to check out your exam vendor’s objectives list from time to time.

Important Facts to Know for the 1.4 and 1.2 Exams

The following facts are important items related to each exam, should you decide to pursue one of these exams:

  • Each exam costs $150.00
  • Exams are delivered via Thomson Prometric testing services. To sign up for an exam, go to
  • When signing up, you will need to know the exam numbers assigned to each exam. The number for the exam on platform 1.4 is CX-310-035 and the number for the 1.2 platform exam is CX-310-025.
  • There are no prerequisites required for either exam.
  • Each exam is comprised of multiple-choice and short answer questions.
  • The 1.4 exam has 61 questions and the 1.2 exam consists of 59 questions.
  • To pass the 1.4 exam, you must correctly answer 32 of 61 questions, or 52%, and to pass the 1.2 exam, you must correctly answer 61% of the questions.
  • You have a total of 120 minutes to complete each exam.


If development is your current career or it is the career path you are looking to join, learning and honing your skills with the Java language is a solid choice. Because you have to pass only one exam to achieve the SCJP credential, selecting which platform to exam on will be based on what platform you use or will be using on the job. If you are looking to enter the Java development world, first look around at what platform employers are using or what IT recruiters are being asked for. This might be a good place to start your certification efforts. It is also a possibility that you are certified in one platform and are looking to add to your skill set by learning a newer version.

No matter your motivation for certifying, you will need to invest plenty of time for studying and gaining experience. Determine how you learn best and follow this path. The Sun Web site offers several training courses on these technologies. If classroom training is your preferred method of learning, these courses will assist you. It is advisable to purchase several different books for study as well. No one author gives you a full view of a topic and some authors are stronger in some areas over others. Having multiple sources will ensure that you are receiving strong coverage on the critical exam topics. Lastly, it can’t be overstated concerning the importance of practice exams. Taking practice exams allows you to measure your strengths and weaknesses and they are great for review and confidence building.

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