Passing the Zend PHP Certification Exam
I have been a web designer and developer for over 8 years and PHP is my favorite backend script. As I am not studying IT related subjects in my university education, I would like to have some sort of certifications to testify my coding ability. Zend PHP Certification examination is the one and only choice in the market.
First thing first: is it worth?
I would definitely recommend taking the certification examination if you are into PHP. The certification exam has helped me to:
- brush up my knowledge on PHP (including the latest changes) as I have to read through the whole PHP manual
- add a little logo to my CV
- advance the search result ranking by adding a valuable link of my website on zend.com
Note that Zend has upgraded the certification examination version to PHP 5.5 on 4th October, 2013. A few changes have been made to the syllabus to reflect the updates in PHP 5.5. Details of the syllabus can be found here.
How to study?
As this was the first time I sat for a coding test, I have set aside quite a long period of time for studying (around 9 months). I used Evernote to drop down notes while browsing the Certification Guide by Zend (you will need to create an account at Zend.com to download the document), PHP manual (the most important resource) and other reference texts on PHP/mySQL. Now all the notes have been transferred to this blog for future reference, you may find the links further down the page.
I have also purchased a courseware from UCertify for test simulations. A few weeks before the exam, I constantly scored over 80% in the five mock exams in the courseware and I was quite confident. However, the level of difficulty is not quite on par with the actual exam. The actual certification exam is way more difficult.
Exam Topics of Zend PHP Certification
The official topics covered are list below. You may click on the links to go to my study notes on the topics.
- PHP Basics
- String and Patterns
- Object Orientated Programming
- Data Formats & Types
- Web Features
You can view a more detailed description of each topic at Zend.com.
In the actual exam, there are not many easy questions with obvious answers. After the first round of going through all questions, many questions were marked for review. Of these question, I changed the answer for almost 1/2 of them in the second review. When I pressed the ‘End Exam’ button, my heart was beating hard as I was very unsure whether I would pass or fail.
Below is a rough statistics of the questions constructed from my memory:
- New PHP 5.3 features (SPL, Namespace, Late Static Binding, Typehinting, anonymous functions) – 12
- HTML and Forms (POST data, security, escaping, etc) – 10
- Arrays – 10
- Strings and regex – 8
- File handling and stream – 8
- Headers, sessions, cookies – 6
- DB (PDO, storing/displaying data) – 6
- XML (SimpleXML, DOM, etc) – 4
- OOP – 4
- JSON – 2
As you can see, new features in PHP 5.3 were tested most. You are highly recommended to study these topics in depth, especially SPL.
The level of difficulty and the presentation of questions are very similar to that found in the Zend PHP Certification Guide. You may also refer to the slide below which provides additional sample questions:
Zend PHP Certificate
Below are photos of the certificate package received about 3 weeks after the passing the exam. It includes the certificate itself, a letter of explanation and a PHP 5.3 ZCE sticker.
- On 4th Sep 2013, Zend announced 10,000th Zend Certified Engineer. I missed that by a few numbers.
- On 4th Oct 2013, Zend announced the new PHP 5.5 Certification Examination, which replaces the previous Zend Certification Examination 5.3