1. Decide if this is right for you
Do you understand the costs, in terms of time and effort, to master the exam objectives? The first exam (1Z0-042) covers 19 topic areas containing a total of 105 items. This could mean two hours a day for perhaps a dozen weeks to understand and master these exam objectives. What effect will this have on your personal life, including family and friends?
Do you enjoy database technology? I mean do you see this as just a hot ticket to a job or do you have a deep curiosity to learn and research aspects of this technology? Do you enjoy the rush of pleasure when you finally understand a new or complex process and can apply the knowledge to a working database? Recently, I was asked to use an old DTS package (MS SQL Server) to load an Oracle database used for development. The source flat file had 13.9 million records in it. After an hour passed it had only loaded 1.5 million records. I stopped the process and switched to Oracle's SQL*Loader. It loaded all 13.9 million records in only 1.5 hours! That's what I'm talking about.
2. Subscribe to Oracle Technology Network (OTN)
If you have not heard of OTN then you are in for a surprise. This is an online resource provided by Oracle for those who use their products. Features include downloads, online library, discussion forums, sample code, technical articles and columns.
Do you know that you can download their software for free? I've met many people who look at me in disbelief when I tell them this. Oracle asks you to agree to a developer license before downloading, which permits the use of their software for non-production uses like prototyping and development. Expect a polite call from Oracle inquiring about your download. The call is just marketing follow-up. They want to find out if you are thinking of purchasing the product. I tell them "No, I'm using it to prepare for a certification exam." And then they thank me for my time and hang up.
Another important area is the Oracle documentation library (html and pdf). With your OTN subscription you get full access to the product manuals. I think these are under-appreciated by many. My favorites are the Database Concepts and Administrator's guide. But that's not all. Need to know how to install Oracle 10g on Linux or want to learn how to use the flashback query? This is the source! Why pay for books that may not have all the information you need when you can have it all for free? A particularly useful feature of the online library is the ability to search the entire library by keyword. If you type "locally managed tablespaces" you will see a list of books and the hit count for each book. Drilling down will show you the chapters where the hit came from. Drill down again and you are there.
3. Download Oracle 10g Database SoftwareIf you are serious about learning, you need the software to practice what you learn in the Exam Topics. Do not install it at this step as this is part of the first Exam Topic in step number 7. As I said in the previous step you can download it from OTN now that you are a member. The download area provides links to 10g software for various platforms. Make sure you pick the correct platform (e.g. Windows 32 bit, or Linux 64 bit, etc.). Once you enter the page for your platform, you will see several downloads to choose from. You only need the Database. For example:
Oracle Database 10g Release 1 (10.1.0.2) Enterprise, Standard, Personal Edition for Microsoft Windows (32-bit) Download the Complete Files 10g_win32_db.zip (604,263,765 bytes) (cksum - 1594035171)
You DO NOT need the other downloads (Companion CD, Client or Cluster Ready Services). Once you have downloaded it, please burn it to a disk for use in step 7.
4. Download Oracle 10 Database DocumentationThis is optional. You do need the access to the documentation, but whether it is on your machine locally or on OTN is a matter of preference. The download is about 300 MB.