Today I took the Zend PHP 5 certification exam, and passed! As of writing this post, I am not in the Zend Yellow Pages yet, so if you click the icon it will make me look like a liar, but trust me, I passed. I’m in the Zend Yellow Pages, and you can click the ZCE PHP 5 icon to view my entry.
The exam is similar in format to the Zend practice tests (70 questions in 90 minutes, with multiple choice and fill in the blank answers), but the topics and content appeared to be fairly different. I’m not allowed to share the test with you, but I think it is alright to make some vague references to the type of questions I was asked, as Zend themselves share this information freely on their website.
Many of the questions were crazy easy, sort of in a “if you’ve ever used PHP then you should know this” category. For example, the basics of how loops work. Some took a little more knowledge, but should still be fairly easy to someone that has been programming in PHP for a few years.
Some were ridiculous and shouldn’t (in my opinion) have been on the test. For example, one question referenced the function strspn. In the PHP world, the usefulness/popularity of a function can generally be determined by the number of comments it has in the online documentation. This function has a whopping three: two explaining what the function actually does because the official description is confusing, and one trying to help people understand why they’d even want to use this function.
One thing I thought was interesting is that the test is probably easier for people who have spent a lot of time digging in other people’s code. For example, there may be 5 common ways of getting a task done. Some ways may be faster, or easier to read, or use a single function call, or whatever. If you haven’t had to spend time in other people’s code, then you may never have seen all 5 ways of getting the task done because you always do it 1 way. The exam expects you to not only be able to understand how the other 4 ways work if you happen across them, but ideally you know what they are before you go to the testing center.
If you’re an established PHP programmer and want to take the exam, I’d recommend taking the practice tests, determine what areas you are rusty in (for me it was PDO and XML) and study up a bit.