The first thing i did when i aspired to be a SCEA was i took a print out the objective of the exam from the erstwhile Sun website.
I read through the objectives again and again and meditated for couple of weeks to decide on how much on my experience i can use
for the exam. I have been working in Java/J2EE for the past 10 years. Once i had an idea of the objectives, i visited javaranch
(http://saloon.javaranch.com) site which i used to visit for my previous certifications. I compiled the list of books by ranchers who passed the exam. The list of books required were
SCEA Study guide - Mark Cade - Security, Design patterns and protocols
Core J2EE patterns - 2ND EDITION
Head First Design Patterns
EJB 3 in Action
SOA Using web services - Mark Hansen
I read all the books 2 times and while reading for the 2nd time i concentrated on the areas relavent to the objective. The exam tests on the concepts so while reading the books you will not have a sense of confidence as you are ready for the exam. But make sure you have understood the concepts and do believe in yourself that you have understood the concepts. To test the concepts, the exam questions are scenario based. So, the better you understand the applicability of the technologies, you will be in a better position to answer questions correctly. Though working through the examples, given in the book will give you more insight into the technology, understanding the concept is very essential.
Regarding mock exams, i attended all the mock exams listed at http://faq.javaranch.com/java/SceaMockTests . Most of the exam questions to some extent matches with the mock exams.
Once Part I has been passed, the steps to buy assignment (Part II) is available in Oracle website. The method of payment differs for different country. I bought the voucher in a Sun event for all parts in discount. Once i passed the exam i sent an email to Sun and requesting for the assignment. I received the assignment (Dreamcar) and started to work on that. I read the assignment, re-read the assignment and read between the lines. One of the main thing to notice in the assingment is the coverage of non-functional requirement. Though those requirments are quite obvious, the design should cater for that. It can be in the form of using standard frameworks or use of multi-tier architecture for maintainablity or usage of clustered deployment to cater scalability. After i understood the requirement, i started to work on the assignment. The assignment had three external interfaces to interact with. First i decided on the technologies to use then i started with the class diagram which i made sure that the class diagram had all the entities listed in the assignment. Though some of the multiplicities in the business domain model were wrong, i made some assumptions so that the mulitiplicity is maintained but there is no need to navigate as given in the domain diagram. For example, between class A and B were many to many relationship was there if i implemented as given in the assignment, then i had to be implement a link table to maintain the relationship. So, i explained in assumption that though there can be many to many relationship, but there is no need to access the information from both ways. This i decided after making valid assumptions. I used StarUML to draw all the diagrams. I had an issue with StarUML that whenever i closed StarUML and opened again, i got "Cannot focus window" error. It seems to be a bug when i searched internet. Everytime i had to uninstall and install again to make it work. I am not sure whether it is the problem faced by others.
I had one class diagram, one deployment diagram, one component diagram and few sequence diagram. One sequence diagram for one each use case. For some use cases, i had to split the sequence diagram into multiple diagrams at the user interaction resulted to interface to external systems. Once i am done with the diagrams, i exported them as JPEG files and created html files to link to those images. Besides, the diagrams, i came up with goals and design decision of the assignment, assumptions and risk and mitigations. The risk and mitigation part was quite challenging to come up with. According to the assingment, it should be technical risks and after thinking through, i had a list of 6 risks and mitigatin strategy. While working on the assignment, maintain a notes where you can take down all your notes whenever something related to the assingment strikes. So at the end you will have lots of details thought over the time and will be helpful in drafting your assumptions, risks/mitigation strategies.
Once i had the all htmls in place, i created a jar of the entire folder and named with my Prometric ID which starts with sp*******. I email that jar to architect-submit_US@oracle.com. But before sending, ensure that the jar can be extracted by testing it some other system. Besides, ensure that alignment and layout of images are correct and can be visible properly by testing in IE as well as Mozilla browsers. After emailing the package, the next day, i received an email from Oracle saying that they have received the assignment and sent for assessment. After 4 to 6 weeks, you will receive an email on your assignment result. In the mean time, you can login into www.certmanager.net/sun and check the result of the assingment. In my case i received the result in 7 days. After another 4 weeks, i received the certification package. It had the certificate and congratulatory letter. It didn't have logo download information and lapel pin. It had to login to certmanager and submit a form and download the logo.
Once i had done the assignment, i prepared a list of questions on the Non-functional requirement and the architecture. I scheduled the exam in Prometric and the exam was a breeze. The exam is for 2 hours. First i went through all the 8 questions to get a gist of the questions. This is to make sure not to repeat the same answer everywhere. 2 hours was enough and if you yourself had worked on the assignment, then answering the questions is not an issue at all. There is no score issued for Part III and will be assessed with Part II. On whole, the preparation for Part III is get conversant with the technologies and thier usage in the assingment.
Now i can proudly say that i am Sun Certified Enterprise Architect. Thanks to all ranchers at http://saloon.javaranch.com for clarifying doubts and giving a platform to share the thoughts of aspiring architects. Below are few of the posts i searched for Part II and found useful.
All the best on your endeavours to be become an SCEA !!!!