The Zend 5.3 PHP Certification is a single exam with the aim to test the applicants knowledge of PHP. It is a formal exam consisting of 70 questions to be answered in 90 minutes.
I had been meaning to take the exam for the last year or so. Finally last month I booked it.
There is very limited material online detailing what the questions are like and how best to revise for the exam. Zend list the topics that the exam covers and most blog posts suggest reading the PHP manual and read the Zend Study Guide.
Unfortunately the Zend study guide is full of mistakes, missing answers and like PHP, is full of inconsistencies. That said it is helpful as a prompt of what to revise and has questions and answers at the end of each topic.
After some revision I wanted to test my knowledge with some practice questions to gauge how well my revision was going. As I have said already, practice questions are few and far between. With enough searching on Google, I stumbled across a few blog posts, each with a few questions the author had remembered. I also found PHP Riot & uCertify both offering a handful of questions for free, however you needed to pay for more questions. uCertify offers a money back guarantee if you do not pass first time and for $120 (£75) you can have unlimited access to all their questions (over 400). PHP Riot is $5 (£3) for 200 questions. I did not use either of the paid options but if you want more sample questions then I would suggest choosing one of these two options.
Taking the test
The test is made up of 70 questions and you have 90 minutes to complete the exam. The questions are in a random order and are mainly multiple choice, with some free text. Questions are in the form of statements, code snippets or best practices.
Beware some questions are trick questions, with syntax errors. Some require you to choose 2 or more answers (this is stated in the question though). Others are just poorly worded to attempt to confuse you.
Is 90 minutes long enough to answer 70 questions?
Yes it is. Some questions take slightly longer to read and understand but others are very straight forward. You will have plenty of time to review your flagged questions / incomplete questions prior to ending the test.
What is the pass mark?
Zend are very secretive about this and have never confirmed the actual pass mark, but the community believe it to be in the region of 60%
Can I find out how well I did?
If you fail you are given a print out detailing each section and how well you did on the scale of poor, average & good. If you pass you just get a print out detailing you have passed.
Upon completing the test you are instantly presented with a simple screen with a Zend logo and a statement of whether you have passed or failed.
I see the benefits of the exam from an employers point of view in that they can say their developers are Zend certified and from a recruitment point of view. However personally I feel that the way some questions are geared in terms of remember exact function names and orders of parameters a bit pointless. I always have the PHP manual open in my browser and utilise my IDE's auto complete functionality to prompt me on PHP's built in functions.
Does being able to recall library functions make you a better developer? I think not. A developer who is able to write OO code that is maintainable, scalable and readable is much better than someone whose Mastermind specialist subject is the PHP manual.
P.s. If you are interested I passed! :)
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