Learning to revise again


Well, after surviving a grueling 2 year web/preservation project, it has now finally come down to doing that Zend PHP exam which has been constantly put off whilst other impending work was completed.  At the age of 28, revising shouldn’t be a problem – I mean, i’ve been through the likes of GCSE’s, GNVQ’s, HND and Degree exams – more than enough experience right?

Problem is that my last exam was almost 6 years ago, so now its trying to get back into the swing of things again and remember how I best revised.  From what I recall, it was all about ‘cramming’….  making loads of notes with key words, creating bubble charts and my own questions and answers to constantly blast through.  Actually, after going through all the notes i’d end up with the equivalent of a Quiz book which i’d then spend several days constantly going through until I was getting at least 70/80% correct.  It seemed to work quite well and got me at least this far – so i’m hoping it will help this time round (If I can just doing the festive beer drinking!)

The Zend exam is a slightly different kettle of fish,  whereas Software Development exams were about programming theory and concepts as well as some syntax based questions for the likes of Java or C++,  this is purely on best practices, syntax, functions, obscure bits of code for PHP.  It’s odd for me also, as its a language that i’ve been working with for about 4 years now as part of my day to day job as a web developer.  It’s with that, there will be added confidence of answering questions – but there will always be the odd items which have not been encountered before – most likely in the functions which no-one actually uses.  Additionally one thing is never to be complacent – although i’ve used PHP a lot recently, there will always be gaps and any lack of preparation by sods law could mean messing up on a simple question 🙂 …
Overall the exam seems on intent in covering items which we most likely will find no practical use for, but is something that could be useful on a Computer Programming Pub Quiz perhaps.

Personally when i’ve developed with PHP, i’ve used the manuals to look up various methods and pre-defined functions to help me do a specific task as and when its required.  The basic syntax, code writing style, basic constructs, some constantly used functions are all embedded as they are pretty much used all the time for anything PHP related, but specific functions and methods are not.  I haven’t sat down and read through an entire bible, as in the end i’d be doing just as i’d do with the “cramming” technique when revising for an exam.  Although this sounds great by cramming the entire syntax of PHP into your brain – it’s only useful if you have particularly good memory retention.  Normally after a few weeks of doing an exam – the crammed information has gone.  Getting that knowledge back has always occurred through practical usage of a particular function, or repetition.

I guess it is down to the type of learner that you are – groups of people learn in a variety of ways.   Some people learn best visually, some via hands on based work and some just by reading books.  I’m more in the category of being hands on,  so I guess i’ll be doing the cramming over the next few weeks and then just recalling the useful stuff required in every day problems i’m having to solve.  Fun times 🙂

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