Since a third person just asked me how to prepare for OCM exam in last 2 days, I decided to make my answer publicly available. I will leave you to discover the formal path yourself and give you a guideline in terms of the how-to and length of the preparation.
How to build a test environment
First of all you should build your test-sandbox environment. Many folks are asking what versions of software should be installed. The answer is right there on the Oracle Database 11g Certified Master Exam page; see “Exam Environment” section. The next question that I typically hear is: The test environment should consist of how many servers? This is where I will let you to use your imagination and count yourself. I’ll just give you few hints:
1. Check if there is a RAC section in the exam. If it is there, you’ll need at least 2 hosts :).
2. Check if there is a Grid Control related section in the exam. If it is there, you should install it somewhere, right? :)
What exam consists of and what is the best way to prepare
You wouldn’t believe it, but the answer is out there on the same Oracle Database 11g Certified Master Exam page. You just need to go though each category under the “Exam Topics” section and give yourself the most difficult tasks you can think of and practice, practice, practice… And after that, a bit more practice :). For example, consider the “Create the database” task. Think about how to make an Oracle DBA’s life as complex as possible and train yourself for that scenario. You may want to think about several different scenarios as you may not guess the one used in the exam from the first try.
How much time to spend on preparation
I would suggest to plan for 2 months of technical self-training if you have a normal (5 days and 8 hours a day) work week. You would work 1-2h in average during work days and 4-5 hours during the weekends for the preparation. It comes to 80-130 hours of technical preparation work for an Oracle DBA with 3-4 years experience. Well, I would suggest the same time frame for a DBA with 15 years of experience anyway. ;)
What information sources would Yury suggest for preparation?
Well the main source is here :). Would I suggest to use anything else? Yes, I think your imagination is another component. Use it wisely and think about possible scenarios you would use to test other Oracle DBA for a top position in your company. Would I suggest any other sources? Hmmmm… You are free to use anything you want; however, my personal opinion is that you’re better off using the sources I just mentioned.
Do you think that the cost of the OCM exam is unreasonably high?
I do agree that it is expensive. However, it depends what you are comparing it with. Let’s take the popular “Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert” exam. If you compare the pricing, then you will find out that it’s similar to OCM. However, if you read through the prerequisite list, you will find that it is much longer. Our friends from networking world put much more efforts to fulfill the CCIE requirements. In addition you will be surprised to know that the passing rate for CCIE exam is ~30%. Based on my friends’ feedback, passing the CCIE exam on the third attempt is normal. If you pass it on the second attempt, you are lucky. If we compare OCM with CCIE, OCM no longer seems so expensive. Just to mention that I didn’t do anything to fulfill the OCM prerequisites. It just happened that in 2003, I had had all necessary boxes ticked even before considering 9i OCM.
To sum this up, I think that if you follow the advice I just gave you then you have a good chances to pass the OCM exam on the first try. Just get ready for 2 months of hard work, prepare your test environment, and be brave ;). By the way, if you are OCM already, feel free to comment if my assessment is about right and share your experience under the comments’ section of this blog post.
Good luck folks,