How to prepare for Spring Framework Certifications?

Ever since Pivotal, the company behind Spring framework made the mandatory Spring training optional (see here), I have received many queries from experienced Java developers who are interested in doing Spring certifications. This move from Pivotal suddenly makes the Spring certification affordable for many experienced Java and Spring developers who were interested in Spring certification earlier but couldn't progress further due to expensive mandatory training. Since many of them are now preparing for Spring certifications e.g Spring Core or Spring via self-study they are increasingly looking for good resources to prepare for the exam. I have received a lot of questions on preparation, books, mock exams, exam structure, passing marks and useful resources.

In this article, I have tried to outline some of my tried and tested strategy for clearing Spring certification in this post. To be honest, preparing for Spring certifications e.g. Spring Core and Spring Web Application Developer certification are not very different from taking Java certifications like OCAJP and OCPJP.

Similar to Oracle certifications, Spring certifications are also multiple choice questions where you need to answer 76% of questions correctly to pass the exam i.e. 38 questions out of 50. Yes, passing percentage is higher than Oracle Java certification but format is similar, hence you can use the same strategy to prepare for Spring certifications e.g. reading a good book, practicing a lot of mock exams, attending a training, preparing your own notes and participating in web and forums to keep your knowledge up-to-date and revise them often.

6 tips to prepare for Spring Certification. 

Here are my 6 essential tips to prepare for Spring certifications e.g. Spring Professional Certification Exam, Spring Web Application Developer Certification Exam, and Enterprise Integration Specialist Certification Exam. The only thing which is different from all three exams is the syllabus.

If you have decent work experience in Spring framework e.g. 2 to 3 years working on Spring MVC or developing RESTful Web Application using Spring and Spring Security then preparing for the exam will not take much time.

You just need to go through all exam topics once and a good study guide will help you there.  Since you are already familiar with essential annotations, concepts, and workflow, most of the time you will just fill the gaps in your knowledge rather than learning something new.

1. Understand exam topics
The first and most important step to prepare for Spring certifications is to understand the exam topics or syllabus for your exam. Thankfully, Pivotal provides free developer guides which not only list the topics but also lists some important questions which you can use to check your knowledge of exam topics.

There are separate exam guides for separate exams e.g. you cannot use Spring Study Guide for v4.0/4.1 if you are preparing for Spring Professional V4.2 Exam or Spring Professional V4.3 Exam.

Here is the list of important topics for Spring Core or Spring Professional certification exam version 4.2 or 4.3:
Spring Container
Testing with Spring
Data Access using Spring
Spring MVC
Spring Security
Spring Cloud

Remember, you will get 90 minutes to answer 50 multiple-choice questions. You must answer 38 questions correctly (78%) in order to pass the Spring certification exam. You can also download the study guide for Spring Professional v 4.2 and 4.3 here.

2. Choose a Good Book or Study Guide
Second important steps to prepare for Spring certification is bought a good book or Certification Study Guide. Unfortunately, there are not many books and study guide available for Spring certification but the available ones are good enough as well.

If you are preparing for Spring Professional Certification or Spring Web Application Developer certification exam, then you should read Spring in Action book. The 4th edition of this book covers Spring 4.0, which is a requirement for Spring Professional Exam v4.2 and v4.3 certifications.

How to prepare for Spring Framework Certifications

Here are some more good books and study guides for preparing Spring Core, Spring Web and Spring Integration Specialist certification exams:
Pivotal Certified Professional Spring Developer Exam: A Study Guide
Pivotal Certified Spring Web Application Developer Exam: A Study Guide
Spring in Action 4th Edition - Covers Spring 4
Spring boot in Action
Enterprise Integration Patterns

The last book is particularly very important for Spring Integration Specialist exam because the Spring Cloud training is based upon this book and if you cannot attend training then this book gives you most of the detail you need to clear the exam.

3. Choose a Good Exam Simulator
Practicing in real exam like scenario are very important to improve the speed and accuracy require to pass Spring certification exams. Since you need to solve 50 questions in 90 minutes and you have to score almost 80% correct answer, both speed and accuracy is very important.

A good exam simulator not only helps you to improve speed and accuracy but also fill the gaps in your knowledge and help you to find your strong and weak areas.

By practicing and carefully analyzing results you improve your weak areas before appearing for exams. Since exam voucher cost you 200$ I suggest you spend atlest 50$ more on a good book and exam simulator to avoid retaking the exam. David Mayer's Spring Mock Exam Simulator is both good and not very costly, you can buy it to give you're preparing a boost.

4. Attend a Training
If you can afford then there is no better way to preapre for Spring certification then attend a classroom traing. Even though Pivotal make the mandatory training optional now, it is still recommended and best resource to prepare for Spring certifications like Spring Professional Certificatoin or Spring Web Application Developer certificatoin exam.

Pivotal provides dedicated 4-day training classes for each certification e.g. Spring Core, Spring Web and Spring Enterprise. It provides both classroom and online trainign all over the world with its training partners e.g. SpringPeople provides trainign in India. T

The cost of Spring certification training is around 50,000 INR in India and around 3200 USD or equivalent in rest of the world e.g. USA and Europe. If you are working in IT sector and your company is provided subsidy or reimbursing the cost of Spring certifcaiton both training and voucher then you should attend a Spring framework training.

The training will not only help you to prepare for Spring certificaiton but also improve your knowledge and understaning of Spring featres and its more advanced modules e.g. Spring Security and Spring REST.

5. Make your own notes
I am a big fan of making your own notes even though you are attending a training. It helps in many ways because it actively involves your mind and encourages you to read and explore more about the topic. This active participation improves your knowledge and understanding of exam topics.

It also helps you to organize your knowledge so that you can revise it later close to exam dates. No matter how you are preparing e.g. training, self-study, relying on the job experience, I encourage you to make your own notes as per syllabus.

6. Participate on forums
There is no better way than participating in forums like StackOverflow and Spring forums to retain the knowledge you have learned. "Use it or Lose it" is the universal truth and applies very well here also. If you are just reading and not using or applying that knowledge in your work then you will quickly forget about it.

Since work also provides limited exposure to exam topics, its best to answer questions on the internet e.g. on blogs, forums, and StackOverflow. It also helps you to interact with fellow Java developers preparing for Spring Certifications.

Other Useful Spring certification resources:
David Mayer's Free Spring Certification dumps
Java & Moie's Core Spring 4.2 Certification Exam PDF
Official Spring Certification Page
Spring Professional Exam v4.2 and v4.3 Study Guide
Spring Fundamentals By Bryan Hansen
REST with Spring Certification course by Eugen

That's all about how to prepare for Spring Certifications. Since Spring and Hibernate are very popular Java framework and there are a lot of jobs available for Java developer with good Spring and Hibernate knowledge, this is also a good opportunity for many core Java developers to become a Spring Certified Professionals.

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