This post is for Android developers intending to pass the Android ATC 401 Certification.
What is the Android ATC 401 Certification
According to the information on the ATC web site, the 401 Android Developer certification tests the Android Fundamentals and is the part of the certification path to become an ATC Android Certified Application Engineer or an ATC Certified Trainer. The additional certifications require other ATC certifications, e.g. the Engineer certification requires exam 402 – Android Security Essentials and 403 – Monetize Android Applications as well.
The passing rate for the test is 70%, which makes it not too difficult to pass.
What is the exam content?
You can see the complete list of exam topics in the exam outline on the ATC web site.
On a high level, the exam has the following topics:
- Android Framework and Android Studio
- Android SDK Tools and Activity Class
- Fragments, Views, and List View
- Intents and Intent filters
- Android Layouts and Custom Views
- Android Resources, Themes, and Material Design
- Android UI – Dialogs, Menus, and WebView
- Android Storage and Background Processing
- Android Storage: SQLite and Content Providers and
- Android Notifications
How to study for the certification
The first approach for studying for the exam, is to go through the Android Fundamentals on the Google Developer site, and implement all basic functionality in a kitchen sink app. That helps you to understand and remember the concepts.
Next, from the same list of Android fundamentals, create a study guide for you (or use my study guide at the end of this post) and study, study, study until you know them well.
Alternatively, if you have money to spare and you don’t mind paying 60 bucks for the Android ATC study guide, you can order it online from their web site.
Finally, download the exam sample test from the ATC web site and study all questions very well. A surprising amount of questions in the sample exam, were also in the actual exam.
How to pass the exam
There are three types of questions on the exam:
I mean – reeeeeally basic. These are questions and you shouldn’t have to study for them. Every Android developer should know by heart for example where the string.xml is located or what the Android manifest is for.
Advanced questions are questions that focus on specific questions about Android fundamentals listed in the course outline. Those you should be able to get right by studying the Android fundamentals on the Google site or by using my study guide.
Toss up Questions
The big problem with this test in my opinion is the large amount of what I call ‘toss up’ questions. Those are the hardest ones. Even though you might be an experienced Android developer and you are well prepared for the test, you may still not know the answer to these questions unless you by chance came in touch with the subject of the question. About a third of the test are toss up questions. For example, to know the naming convention of some strange database module which you never used or in which API version a specific widget was introduced, is a bit much to ask.
In my opinion, the questions are designed not to test your basic knowledge of Android but to make you fail the test. At the end of the day, if you fail, you are going to spend another 150 bucks and make ATC money – which is great for them, bad for you.
How to get past the toss up questions:
Since the passing rate is only 70%, you may get lucky and get a few toss up questions right and pass the test the first time. I can only stress that you should know all ATC example test questions by heart so that you can get 100% of those questions that appear in the test right. That’s really a key to passing the test.
It’s hard to give you advice on this point but instead of cheating, what I ended up doing is taking the test twice. If you want to try that, here’s what you can do:
- During the test, write as many questions you don’t know the answer to on your dry eraser notepad. At the end of the test, read through these questions again and try to remember as many as you can.
- Keep a notepad in your car and once you get to your car, write down as many questions as you can remember.
- When you get home, you can research those for the next time you take the test.
I know, it’s not the cheapest way, but it worked well for me to the test the second time.
My opinion about the exam
OK, I’ve been holding back but here it goes. Without trying to mean, here my honest opinion:
- As an experience Android developer, it seemed that the questions were created by someone who doesn’t have any hands-on developer experience whatsoever. Some questions seemed ‘text-book’ style and were hardly relevant to day-to-day programming. And if you ever encounter them, you could just google the answer.
- The ‘toss up’ questions seemed designed for your to fail the test and make sure you spend more money on the next ATC exam. Even with Android development experience, after studying fundamentals, and reviewing their study guide book I wasn’t able to pass the first time.
- There were spelling errors and grammatical errors in multiple questions, which is simply not professional. Also, these errors were confusing during the test. So, use a spell checker, ATC guys!
- The price of 60 bucks for the ATC study guide seems excessive. Again, it seems ATC is interested in making money.
- Unfortunately, the ATC exam is only one of two Android certifications but if you want to decide between the two, I would instead recommend the Google Android Associate Developer Certificate, which is a very well designed exam.
I hope this reflection helps you to pass the test. If you have any question, send me a mail using the ‘Contact Page’. Here the study guide:
You can find my study guide for the Android ATC 401 exam below. Or contact me and I’ll email you the PDF file.