Even though I have never been a big fan of certifications, as substitutes for a good dose of hands-on work experience, I decided to test my PHP knowledge which I had accumulated over the years. Therefore, I registered to take the ZCE (Zend PHP Certified Engineer) exam. For those of you who don’t know what a ZCE exam is, you can check it out here. Getting the Zend PHP Certified Engineer certification is an excellent way to test your PHP knowledge AND differentiating yourself when approaching prospective clients and employers.
First, I went to the Zend Certification website to check out the suggested study material needed to prepare for the exam. Then, I wrote a study plan! What comes next is a step-by-step description of what I did to prepare for the ZCE exam which I took and passed on first try on July 25th, 2008. Of course, this may or may not work for you.
Zend PHP Certified Engineer Step-by-Step Guide
- I purchased the Zend PHP 5 Certification Study Guide by Davey Shafik and Ben Ramsey. Being a real maniac when it comes to taking tests, I also got my hands on a PHP 4 study guide. I studied both of them THOROUGHLY. For each chapter I read, I wrote down on a sheet of paper all the functions (and parameters) and concepts which were mentioned in the books.
- I then went to the PHP website and studied every single word mentioned in the Language Reference, Security section, Features section, and part of the Function Reference.In the Function Reference I concentrated on the following sections:
http://www.php.net/manual/en/refs.database.php. In the Database Extensions section, I studied the PDO, and the MySqli section very carefully. I reviewed the most used PHP.INI directives.To those of you who are thinking that they can pass the ZCE exam just by reading the study guide: it doesn’t work that way. The exam tests BOTH your PHP knowledge accumulated on the job AND language syntax (functions and parameters, etc) which you can only know by reading the PHP Manual very carefully.
- I purchased a 10-exam pack of mock tests from Vulcan. I suggest everybody try these tests before sitting for the actual exam as they give you a chance to get acquainted with the test format and difficulty level. Some people have complained they took and passed the mock exams but failed the real one. I believe the key here is to actually get excellent grades on the mock exams rather than just passing them. With regard to the difficulty level of mock exams as compared to the real ones, I can only say there are almost unnoticeable differences
- between the two. Taking notes of stuff I never hearphp5d of on the mock exams and studying them afterwards really helped me further my PHP knowledge. I bought 10 exams, but I actually took just 5. Why? Because many of the questions on the exams are repeated over the over again on subsequent exams. Thus, you tend to memorize questions which actually defeats the whole purpose of taking sample tests.
- Scheduled a test date, sit, and passed on first try!
I hope this step-by-step process will benefit others while preparing for their Zend PHP Certified Engineer exam. I’m actually willing to donate my remaining 5 mock exams credits to whoever asks for it first!
Here’s a pdf file of my php5 notes php5