Well, I did my Zend PHP exam today in London… and passed! … Finally I can relax after a stressful few days leading up to today and prepare for the Retrovision 2010 event in Oxford on Friday (Which i’ve found hard to get excited about due to all the revising).
The one thing I will say is that i’m glad I spent a solid month revising, as there is a lot of information to cram in. Although i’ve been using PHP for around 5 years now (4 as part of my day to day job) there is still a lot of material which I had never used/come across before. One of the key areas was really understanding some of the new features of PHP5 compared to PHP4.
I am unable to indicate questions from the exam, but one thing I can say is that I felt the exam was slightly more difficult compared to the mocks (Though many others have said the opposite). This was mostly due to a few subjects not covered in the preparation material/mock questions – Items which you probably wouldn’t know unless you happened to come across it on your work travels.
However, if you are able to pass the Zend Mocks well (Which prepares you well for the real thing) and do well with the Zend Questions book, then you should be able to pass the Zend exam itself. The required pass rate has never been released by Zend, but i’ve heard rumblings that it is around the 50% mark.
One mistake I made last month was my new “bright idea” revision method of going through every chapter and creating a Q/A document on each based on the information (With a view to just quiz myself on the subjects rather than read up each night).
Although it helped me to iterate through the chapters in detail and take it in by writing a lot of notes, it was very time consuming and in the end I realised that I was better suited to reading information each night rather than just doing constant questions to try and cram the knowledge in. It was later taking back on board my old exam method of doing “mind maps” which really helped, as well as producing a function list from the PHP manual and getting plenty of example questions to practice from various sources. The mind maps in particular compressed down the rather large Zend guide into something more digestible without losing critical information.
After a few weeks of constant reading + note making, I eventually then took my first online mock to get an idea of how far I was at the time. I surprisingly passed first time, but the results indicated that there were 3 areas I failed on and several others I passed – which was great to help highlight what bits I should read up and focus on.
The one thing i’d suggest to others is to space out taking the online mock, as the odd question crops up again – so overall you’re more likely to get a good reflection of how you are progressing on a week by week basis.
Overall, due to the growing importance of the Zend Certification (as its pretty much the only sort of official PHP certification there is.), i’d recommend training up and taking it to bolt onto your C.V.