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Out of my own interest, I have been self-learning Java over the past few months.

I decided I should take this to a greater advantage, so I have been considering taking the OCP (Oracle Certified Professional) . I presume that the OCP is more useful than AP Computer Science A, which is my other option.

However, my concern is whether admission officers know anything about the OCP, compared to AP Computer Science A, which university admission officers are familiar with.

Therefore, would it be a bad decision (and waste of money) to take the OCP over AP Computer Science A? Should I take both?

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First, I applaud your ambition!

The first OCP exam covers roughly what AP did until this most recent year, when the college board stripped out Interfaces. I would still suggest that they are mostly equivalent, but there are a few practical advantages to the AP Test:

  1. It is substantially cheaper.
  2. Colleges recognize it for admissions purpose. (As you point out, an admissions officer is unlikely to have heard of the OCP, and would question how it compares to AP, and why you didn't just take AP)
  3. Many colleges, at least in North America, automatically award credit or alter your course placement based on your AP scores. No equivalent system exists for OCP.
  4. Because OCP is a professional exam, and you are unlikely to join the profession for at least 5 years (assuming a 4 year college), the exam may be considered dated by the time you get into industry, and it seems obvious that a college major will count for more than the lowest-level Oracle exam in any case. TBH, I've never heard of anyone asking for job applicants to provide Oracle scores, though I imagine that it probably happens somewhere or they wouldn't still offer the exam.

One last thought for you: you do not have to take the course to register for the test, so you can self-study. If you wish to go this route, but your school won't allow you to register yourself for the exam without being enrolled in the course, you should still be able to sign up at a different location.

Good luck!

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  • $\begingroup$ It isn't impossible that Oracle won't exist in five years. Or maybe it will be part of ... Facebook. $\endgroup$
    – Buffy
    Jul 22 '20 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the response! I did not realize that AP Computer Science A and the OCP are that similar. I assumed that the OCP would cover more advanced topics since it’s a professional exam. $\endgroup$
    – Marwi
    Jul 23 '20 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ @MarwanAmireh It can be, but it depends on which level of the exam you take. I am an AP teacher who prepped a private student for the first level exam, and it was mostly the same material. It might make more sense if yo lu consider that the basics of Java and OOP are the same everywhere :) $\endgroup$
    – Ben I.
    Jul 23 '20 at 19:55
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    $\begingroup$ @MarwanAmireh: In my experience, "professional" exams are typically a combination of "Do you have a basic understanding of [whatever] engineering?" (software, network, database, etc.) and "How much of [company's] technology have you memorized?" They are not equivalent to a "real" education, but might prove useful if you want a job at [company], or somewhere that heavily relies on their technology stack. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Sep 12 '20 at 7:26

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