Mike Meyers’ Java 2 Certification Passport by many (McGraw-Hill/Osborne)
This book is organized according to the objectives of the Programmer Certification exam. Each chapter corresponds to a major objective of the exam and is broken into sub topics based on detailed objectives. At the beginning of each chapter the authors list the approximate amount of time you will need to spend on that chapter based on your level of expertise. Although I consider myself between newbie and intermediate, I was able to cover the chapters in the range mentioned for experts. This means that their time estimates are rather generous. All chapters include notes, tips and warnings especially targeted towards the exam. There are questions at the end of each chapter that help you assess how well you have understood the topic. Be aware of the typos and errors in the questions/answers. I hear that the publishers will be putting up an errata page soon. Common problem areas for people new to Java, such as Garbage Collection, Threads, immutability of the string object, passing arguments to methods etc. are covered in great detail. Wise use of diagrams to represent these concepts makes them easy to understand. The bit-wise operators are also explained graphically with plenty of examples. The methods of the Math class, objects in the java.lang package are covered in more detail than in some other popular books. The chapters on AWT and java.IO packages strictly adhere to the exam objectives. There is no in-depth coverage of the topics. The AWT chapter could use more sample code demonstrating the policies of various layout managers along with images of the frames /applets corresponding to the code. Gridbag and Card layouts – which are the two most complex layouts – get less than a page of discussion. The actual exam has at least one or two questions related to the GridBagLayout and the attributes of the GridBagConstraints object. Even though the chapter on Threads seems poorly organized, it does cover the basic concepts in detail. Few more examples and a little reorganization of the material will make this chapter a complete reference, far beyond the exam objectives. In summary I would recommend this book as a companion book but not as the only book needed for certification.