Sjoerd Maessen blog

PHP and webdevelopment

Passing the PHP 5.3 ZCE exam

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I passed the PHP 5.3 ZCE exam
Today I passed the exam to become a PHP 5.3 ZCE. Like everyone else I had to sign the non-disclosure contract so I can’t go into detail about the questions that were asked, I can however tell my impressions of the exam and how prepared for it.

Differences with the previous exam
The first thing I noticed when I bought the PHP 5.3 exam voucher was that there was no option to order a bundle of preparation tests. There was however a free study guide. The new study guide can not be compared with the previous php|architect’s Zend PHP 5 Certification Study Guide. Were the new free study guide gives a quick overview (including some example questions) of each topic in the exam the original study guide starts with basics of PHP and really covers each topic thorough, except for the new PHP 5.3 features.

How did I prepare myself?
After reading the “old” study guide I found it was time to test my current knowledge about PHP 5. I luckily still had some preparation tests available from the previous PHP 5 exam. I took the exam with the following result:

Not bad at all, but again I realized how much problems I had with streams, I also got a fail for PHP4 vs PHP5 but that was nothing to worry about because thats a topic that doesn’t occur anymore on the new exam. Streams did worry me because I had read that this was a topic that would be definitely tested on the new exam. For the people that still have the preparation tests for the PHP 5 exam I recommend using them, for the people that don’t have an tests left but own a iPad of iPhone I recommend buying the app of PhpRiot (discussed further on).

My opinion about the new exam
I did found the new exam a bit more difficult then the previous one. I do think however the new exam is improved a lot over the old one, I still found some trick questions in the exam, but the trick questions I now encountered were questions that really tested your basic insight in PHP and the ability to observe what the code does. The exam did contain a lot more open questions to be filled in the the previous one, sometimes a function name was asked, sometimes the result of a piece of code. First I was doubting if I should take the exam because I already owned the PHP 5 ZCE certification. I now can say I’m very glad I took the exam, it differs enough from the previous one to be considered as a completely new exam.

Reading list
Below I wrote down a list I absolutely recommend to read before taking the exam. Another tool that was useful to me while preparing was the PhpRiot iPad/iPhone Application. The application contains the offline PHP manual, shortcut to the PhpRiot articles and “Quiz training to help you become a Zend Certified Engineer”, the questions in the quiz can be compared with the actual exam. The application itself is free but only contains 6 quiz sample questions, other questions must be bought. ZCE PHP Training bundles I bought for the application:

  1. ZCE PHP Training: Arrays 1 (36 questions)
  2. ZCE PHP Training: Strings 1 (40 questions)
  3. ZCE PHP Training: Web Features 1 (39 questions)
  4. ZCE PHP Training: Basics 1 (55 questions)

Michelangelo van Dam (DragonBe) about his preparation, thanks for the heads up!
Steven Lloyd Watkin about his experience with the new exam
Lorna Jane her preparation, also check out her other great articles about the new PHP 5.3 features!
Another great article to read, some useful tips for the exam, read carefully

Interesting links
Key features of PHP 5.3.0
SPL (study the Graphical Class Hierarchy carefully)
Predefined interfaces
Late static binding
PHP Date Objects
Date and time
Compression wrappers
Compression Filters

Thanks to the PHP community
Besides to links above I would also recommend to look at all string and array functions. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the content on the links above. Special thanks to DragonBe and LornaJane for publishing great slideshare presentations and blogposts. I would also like to thank my colleagues at e-sites for arguing with me about general PHP topics each working day 😉

Good luck to everyone who’s planning to take this exam!

Written by Sjoerd Maessen

December 30th, 2010 at 3:54 pm

4 Responses to 'Passing the PHP 5.3 ZCE exam'

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  1. For someone who already is PHP 5.2 certified, is there any benefit at present for becoming 5.3 certified? NONE of the jobs I have ever had even have the possibility of using 5.3.

    Also, I run, and the .PRO registrar requires that I only give accounts to people who are zend certified. So if you give me your ZCE number, I will setup the alias of your choice to an email address of your choice.

    It looks good on resumes/CVs and there are very few of us 😉

    Theodore R. Smith

    30 Dec 10 at 9:55 pm

  2. Congratulations!

  3. Great info thanks! What language is close to php as far as functionality and ease of use?

    Amos Hausman

    18 May 11 at 1:31 pm

  4. Hi, and congratulations – unfortunately I can’t afford the expensive study material 🙁 do you know any free mock tests? Is it enough If I learn everything from the study guide? because it seems that the study guide is not complete… for example the SPL, it is mentioned but spl is a large topic…


    30 Jun 12 at 8:39 am

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