Studying for 1Z0-146: Oracle Database 11g: Advanced PL/SQL

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1Z0-146: Oracle Database 11g: Advanced PL/SQL is the final of three exams required to complete the development track for certification as an Oracle Advanced PL/SQL Developer Certified Professional. This test is intended for candidates with the Oracle PL/SQL Associate certification who wish to upgrade their credentials to the professional-level certification. Developers who have passed one of the two PL/SQL fundamentals exams, either 1Z0-147 or 1Z0-144, have demonstrated that they are knowledgeable in the basic elements of the PL/SQL language. By contrast, the Advanced PL/SQL exam contains questions about development tools and techniques that require a considerably higher level of experience. Many of the elements tested are in areas that PL/SQL developers with years of experience might never have used. The preparation required for this exam can add to the skills even of people who have worked extensively with PL/SQL. Passing this exam will not instantly make someone just starting out with Oracle into an expert PL/SQL developer. The only thing that will do that is writing lots of code. However, preparing for this exam can help most PL/SQL developers to increase their knowledge of its capabilities. Having that knowledge can dramatically shorten the time required to become an expert.

When preparing for this exam, or for any Oracle certification exam, the first step should always be visiting the Oracle Education website. There is a list available for each Oracle exam that contains every topic that will be covered. This provides candidates with a ready-made checklist to guide their study efforts. Without it, there is no way to determine what to concentrate your preparation efforts on. Oracle exams will never contain any question outside those on the list. The Advanced PL/SQL exam will have sixty-eight multiple-choice or multiple-answer questions and you will have 90 minutes to complete it. The passing score is sixty-five percent. For the multiple-answer questions there is no partial credit — the questions are either right or they are wrong. Any questions that are left blank will count as incorrect. You should answer every one, even if you simply pick your favorite letter, because otherwise the question counts against your score.

There is no single element of the Advanced PL/SQL exam that stands out as a ‘must focus’ area. The exam has a relatively small number of subject areas that topics roll up to and each has an approximately equal focus. In preparing for the test, you should give each topic equal importance and concentrate your efforts only as required to learn ones that you find the most difficult to understand. From the standpoint of an experienced developer, I can tell you that I find collections extremely useful, and that performance is always a factor. Allocating extra attention to these areas might be worthwhile simply from the standpoint of how useful they will be after the test. You may never have a development requirement for fine-grained access control, but you always want to write PL/SQL that executes as fast as possible.

I always recommend the use of the Oracle manuals to candidates who are studying for Oracle certification tests. There are three reasons for this. First, the documentation is very good. Second, every single manual can be downloaded free of charge. Third, the information in the manuals is definitive – the information contained there is what the tests were developed from. The following titles provide the majority of the information you will need for 1Z0-146:

  • Advanced Application Developer’s Guide
  • Advanced Security Administrator’s Guide
  • Database Security Guide
  • PL/SQL Language Reference
  • PL/SQL Packages and Types Reference
  • SecureFiles and Large Objects Developer’s Guide

OCA-level exams tend to cover a broad range of topics to a shallow depth. By contrast, OCP-level tests like 1Z0-146 are designed by Oracle Education to cover a moderate range of topics but they require a deeper level of understanding for each. This exam concentrates on fewer areas than was covered by 1Z0-144 or 1Z0-147, but you need to understand the ones it does cover in greater detail. Prior to scheduling your exam, you should be comfortable that you have mastered all of the topics listed. Good luck on the test.

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