Epic fail: Flunked my 12c OCP upgrade test

Well, I took the Oracle 12c OCP upgrade exam this morning and didn’t pass it.  I’ve spent many hours over the past weeks and months reading up on new 12c features and it wasn’t enough.  I also installed 12c databases and tested out a variety of features to no avail.

Ultimately my downfall was that I tried to prepare for the test from the manuals and the descriptions of what the test covered.  Also, I purchased the Kaplan TestPrep software which only covered the first part of the 12c upgrade exam and only included 50 questions.

I should have waited until an upgrade exam book came out and I should have gotten the more comprehensive Transcender software so I would have a more complete set of questions and a better idea what would be covered.  I can’t study everything.

If you don’t know the 12c OCP upgrade exam has a new “Key DBA Skills” section which wasn’t present in earlier exams.  You have to pass both sections.  The first section covers the new 12c features and corresponds to the previous exams.  I passed this section, although barely, even though I felt confident going in that I would get a high percentage.  The breadth of the topics covered by the second section worried me because I can’t study everything.  It definitely covered things I didn’t study including some features I’ve never used.

Both parts of the exam were challenging.  It seems like a pretty tough test.  I’ve got my Oracle 7, 9,10, and 11 certifications and I’ve passed all of those tests on the first try so this is my first failure.  So, I’m trying to regroup and think about where to go from here.

Ideally, I’d like to get Sam Alapati’s book after it comes out on Amazon and get the Transcender software as well but that costs some money.  Also, I’m thinking I need to take some time and write-up some study sheets for myself instead of trying to commit everything to memory and hoping I remember during the test.

Anyway, I thought I would share my failure with the community and hope it helps someone else prepare.  The truth is that even though it is embarrassing to fail the test I learned things in the process that I can use at my job.  It would be great to get the piece of paper and I hope to do so by the end of the year, but I’ve already learned a ton through what I’ve done so far.

– Bobby

About Bobby

I live in Chandler, Arizona with my wife and three daughters. I work for US Foods, the second largest food distribution company in the United States. I've been working as an Oracle database administrator and PeopleSoft administrator since 1994. I'm very interested in Oracle performance tuning.
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21 Responses to Epic fail: Flunked my 12c OCP upgrade test

  1. Anonymous says:

    I bombed my first attempt at the 11G upgrade. My first reaction was that the test was entirely too focused on extra cost features and not an accurate reflection of what the certification should represent. My second reaction was that I didn’t properly prepare and the failing score was on me. I passed on the second attempt after a significant amount of studying. Seems like maybe you skipped my initial reaction. :) Those tests seem to be getting harder.

    • Bobby says:

      Thanks for your comment. My first reaction was that the test wasn’t scored correctly because I couldn’t believe I missed that many questions on the second section, not to mention the first section. But, upon reflection I think the biggest problem was that I didn’t study very well for the second part of the test.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Fell into the same situation – passed the 12c features without issue, but fell a couple questions short on “key skills”. Many of them I was familiar with, but had not used (or used the features in the questions) in a while.

    I have not planned a retake time yet, as I am waiting for a good “refresher” guide. Good luck as you prepare.

    • Bobby says:

      Thanks for your comment. Sounds like a very similar situation. Annoying as it was to not pass the test I guess it can’t hurt to study some more features that I haven’t used or have forgotten.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I used sam alapti’s book for 11g upgrade as well as my friend who funked by using it.
    I didn’t like that much either and found many errors

    • Bobby says:

      Thank you for your comment. I really appreciated Sam Alapati’s 11g and 12c OCP upgrade books. Both enabled me to pass the respective tests. Both contained a number of errors. In my opinion these books add value by restricting the scope of the things you need to study down to something manageable. They are no substitute for reading the Oracle manuals and trying things out yourself. But, if you try to study for the test without a guide by someone who knows what the tests cover you will be overwhelmed by the amount of material you have to study. At least that is my experience and my opinion.

  4. Ejaz says:

    Can u please share the soft copy of the book ? (12c Upgrade guide)

    • Bobby says:

      I am not sure which book you are referring to. I can’t share the soft copy of any book that I have purchased. If you mean the Oracle 12c manuals they are available for free here:


      But, I encourage you to buy the books and software that I used as well as read the free manuals. The paid resources are worth every penny, in my opinion.

      – Bobby

      • Ionut says:

        Hi Bobby,

        Have you managed to take a second shot at this test?

        I am starting to prepare also, and I can see that the problematic area is not the 12c new features but the Key DBA skills that are covered.

        Do you have any advice? I have prepared a plan to review some of the most important areas in general DBA stuff but I still cannot obtain an opinion on what I should concentrate on because as you said, it practically means that one should review all topics of the oca,ocp examn in 11g plus 12c new features.


        • Bobby says:

          I passed the test in August and put out a blog post about it. Here is the URL:


          My recommendation is that you purchase the three products I list in my post and use them to direct your study of the key dba skills. I don’t think they cover everything that the test had on it but at least it can narrow your focus down to something manageable. Then, if you fail the test the first time as I did try to remember the areas that the test covered and make notes when you get back to your car or office and add those to the topics that you study. Anyway, that is what I did.

          – Bobby

  5. André Duminiet says:

    Wow, congrats! on your huge accomplishment Bobby. I plan on doing the upgrade exam this year as my main objective for 2015. I am a bit undecided as which to purchase as my study guide. Between Sam Alapati and Robert Freeman’s guides, would you be able to recommend the better of the two study guides?
    Also, thanks so much for the ‘heads-up’ and the pointers plus advice. These exams or certainly no “push-over”, are tricky and costly.
    – André

  6. André says:

    Hi Bobby,
    Please ignore my previous post and questions as I see that you have listed your recommended study material. Thanks for the info, I will certainly make use of your advice and tips.
    Take care.
    – André

  7. Anonymous says:

    I also failed the core dba skills part of the exam and I’ve been an Oracle DBA since 1989 and have 6 Oracle certs and an OCE DBA RAC !!G cert . . . the test is not valid. If you pass, it’s only because you guessed the same as the people who set this test up. The existing questions for the new features part are also borderline invalid, so this testing program is surely heading into being completely useless.

    • Bobby says:

      Thanks for your comment. I think that the test covers so much ground that just having experience is not enough to pass it. You have to find out what is really covered by the test and cram in those areas. I passed the test on my second attempt after studying the areas that I remembered having trouble with on the test and buying additional books to help me figure out what the test covered.

  8. Michael Albanese says:

    I used Sam Alipati’s 11g to 12c upgrade and found several errors, e.g the reconnect command. I also used the Kaplan preparation that I bought through a link on the Oracle Corp. URL. Still, I just barely passed; but that’s all that matters.

    • Bobby says:

      Thanks for your comment. I found a number of errors in the sources I used. Also, I suspect some of the questions were either misleading or had wrong answers on the the real test. But, I did learn something from all the studying that I had to do and eventually passed the test for what that is worth.

      • Michael Albanese says:

        I was also surprised that I did so poorly on the exam. Too bad there isn’t an option to review the exam with my answers and the actual answers at a latter date. I gladly pay another $250 for that. I am currently revising for the 1z0-117 Advanced SQL Tuning Course. Have you taken that exam? If so, can you recommend any study materials. I have Matthew Morris’s preparation guide; but I’m not impressed with the book.

        • Bobby says:

          Sorry, I have only taken the OCP upgrade test. One thing I did was when I returned to my office after failing the test the first time I took it, I made notes about what I could remember from the questions that I was not sure about. Not as good as having the exact questions and answers but it did give me an idea of what to study. I think if I do the OCP 13 test some day in the future I may try to take the free beta version of the test just to get an idea of what areas are covered.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I have my OCP for 11g and passed all the exams on the first try. I’ve been a DBA for 18 years and failed this exam twice. I am so frustrated. I studied months and even purchased the kaplan online test. I felt very confident that I was going to pass this exam the second time, but still failed. I feel like this exam is designed to make you fail.

    • Bobby says:

      I’m sorry that you had that frustrating experience. I think that the key dba skills section is difficult to prepare for. I’m not sure if that is the part that you stumbled on. It may be helpful for you to review the three resources that I used to prepare for the test. I talk about them in this post: http://www.bobbydurrettdba.com/2014/08/05/passed-ocp-12c-test/

      The main value that I found in the resources is a guide to help me limit which areas to study because otherwise the scope is just too large for anyone to study for. Also, I recommend trying to recall what subject areas were covered by the two tests you took so you can focus on those areas.

      Still, you have my sympathy. I found the test frustrating as well and even though I passed the second time I was surprised that I did not get a higher score. I’m sure you are a fantastic DBA if you have 18 years of experience. It is just a tricky test to study for.

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