My Journey with OCM
By Liu Danfeng
I received the OCM congratulations letter three weeks after the exam, which marked a perfect ending to the hard work over this period of time. But I also look at this as the beginning of another exciting journey. What I have acquired during the study is a method of using Oracle but to fully apply it requires continuous practice in work.
I first knew about OCM in 2013 when I attended an OCP training with Oracle University. I was having lunch with a few seniors and was dazzled by all the discussion about the OCP course. While listening to them talking about the nerve-wracking experience of taking the exam, I looked at the OCM as something too far to reach for me. My background was in automobile engineering, but my first job was on Oracle database development. It was my first time to use Oracle and I had to study it from the scratch which was a tough time for me. Fortunately, with the help from my manager and colleagues, plus my own efforts, I settled into the job fairly quickly. For the first few years of my job, I got on well with my work thanks to the knowledge and experience accumulated along the way. However, as the company is expanding its business, in recent years, I started to feel a bit behind in terms of my understanding and application of Oracle, especially in areas such as the running and management of the database. I started thinking about doing the OCM certificate to improve my work performance.
Therefore, I chose an Oracle authorized WDP to receive the technical training, so I can access the resources of an authorized training center while getting the official attendance record. Only with the Oracle attendance record, can I then be qualified to attend the Oracle certification exam. Plus, you get to know a group of fellow trainees who are equally motivated and hard-working. We encouraged each other and progressed together. I had two rounds of the weekend course. The first round helped me to have a holistic view of the OCM leaning system. The second round took place after a period of study. I have found that attending the course with problems I came across during my study has increased the learning quality and consolidated some key learning points, which made further practice more efficient.
My personal experience is the time of the exam has to be decided as soon as possible, then this would push you to power through as the time counting down. This is also the advice from Mr. Hou. The reason is it’s easy for people to get lazy. If the exam time was not set, it would be difficult to get into the mode of exam preparation. The longer the exam drags on, the more tiring it would get, and your family might be affected as well. It took me a while to complete the exam and I wasn’t able to see my children during the time. It was very hard for me being separated from my children and I was often in tears when thought about them. But each time I told myself to be strong and try to finish the exam as soon as possible so I can see them sooner.
Stages of OCM Exam Preparation
Exam preparation is a challenge both physically and mentally as it requires a large amount of time and energy. My training overall went through three stages.
- The first stage was to go through the 9 scenarios for the first time. This was the hardest time for me. I constantly encountered errors but couldn’t figure out why. I was very frustrated and couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Luckily, I had my fellow course mates to help and it took me over a month to go through all 9 scenarios.
- The second stage was the continuous practice till I could be completely independent of the textbook. I spent the most time on this stage. It was very tiring but it’s also the most rewarding stage. I was looking through all kinds of reference books, official manuals, while consulting my friends and colleagues to solve all kinds of problems. Each time when a problem was solved I felt I made a small step forward. I went through the emotional ups and downs again and again, while telling myself to carry on. I finally was able to absorb the knowledge from all 9 scenarios along with the official documents in my mind as mental maps. This is a process of digesting and synthesizing an abundance of knowledge.
- The third stage was the intensive preparation right before the exam when I had to go through everything again to check for weak links while pressing on with the practice to improve my speed. This was also the stage at which I felt most accomplished as I was very self-disciplined. As someone who had almost no training on Linux, I was actually able to use all the Linus codes, which was a nice surprise.
Gaining Confidence One Month Before the OCM Exam
It wasn’t till one month before the exam that I was able to complete all the scenarios without instructions. At that time, I was very anxious about the exam as I wasn’t sure how much speed-up I would manage over a month’s time. But once I’m off the instructions, I found myself speeding up very rapidly so maybe I should have gone off script sooner. During the last month, each day was very intensive as I was trying to get the most out of the training. I was going through all the scenarios every day, on weekends, and every two days on work days. Although my speed was maintained at around 50% just before the exam, I was no longer very nervous about it. Mr. Hou was very encouraging and gave some very useful advice before the exam, while I also kept telling myself to believe in what I know. My mindset was that I didn’t need to be perfect but only perform to the best I can. Overall, my exam went fairly well. I did come across a few small problems but was able to solve them calmly.
Advice on Taking the OCM Exam
Here I would like to offer some advice:
- Regardless your prior knowledge of Oracle and Linux, believe in yourself! Follow the instructions from the teachers and you will be fine.
- You have to join the “Hong Bao” (红包) Group. It will give you encouragement and help from teachers and course mates. You are not alone – there are many people behind you offering their support. [This group is in China. Find a similar community in your area to help you prepare for the exam and support you through the process.]
- Once you've completed the 9 scenarios, set the exam date as soon as possible. This will force you to start your preparation and improve your efficiency. The longer you drag it on, the more exhausting it will get.
- If your situation permits, attend the exam crash course. It will help you to know the latest development in exams. It was during this exam crash course, the teacher corrected some of my wrong operations and answered many of my questions, which really helped me to pass the exam.
- From when I first started, it took me nearly half a year to complete the database OCM exam. During this time, I went through a lot but also learned a lot. With the dedication and help from the teachers, I made great progress and also lots of lovely friends. I cherish all of this. Looking back the journey, I would like to thank all the teachers for their help and guidance, thank all my course mates for their precious friendship, thank my managers and colleagues for their support, and especially thank my family for their hard work and support. There’s no end in learning and I shall continue with my journey of learning!
* This article was provided and authorized by Oracle Certified Master Union. For reprint please contact the Oracle University and indicate the source.