Over an year ago, I started working on the Magento platform. In last year’s spring, a colleague from Optaros took the Magento Developer Plus certification exam. Since then, I began to like the idea of taking the certification exam, more as a motivation to learn the ins and outs of Magento.
Few months ago I was enrolled into a company study group for the certification. This was the first time I was sponsored for a certification (yes, until now everything was with my money). Preparing in a study group was a whole different experience.
Those who have more experience in a field balance the situation for the others and can give better examples from their own experience. It’s easier to understand from concrete examples then to try to imagine the scenarios yourself.
The certification is available through Prometric. So when you decide that you’re ready you can go to the website to purchase the voucher and schedule the exam.
The price for a voucher is 260$, not exactly cheap, but if you get to convince your boss to pay, it probably won’t be so bad. 🙂
But let’s get to the more interesting subject, the preparation.
Magento is not doing very good on this subject, there are very few materials and they are not centralized.
My sources were:
– Magento® Certified Developer Plus Exam Study Guide – it is compulsive to read the guide and try to find answers to all the questions in it;
– Magento training – especially Fundamentals of Magento Development
– blogs – I don’t want to give any names, there are a lot of people that write about the problems that they encounter and blog about the exam.
Unfortunately there isn’t a way like for PHP, ZF and Symfony where you can find all you need in one place, basically it depends on your luck and searching skills, there isn’t an “official version”. Things become weird when you find different approaches that are version specific.
How did I prepare
I began with the video training. It’s not perfect by it’s very helpful. I think the problem with most certifications is that you don’t get to work with all the available modules, just like in PHP you don’t get to work that much with sockets and streams.
Even though you don’t get the code and sometimes it is hard to follow and transcribe the examples, I think that the video tutorials are one of the most important sources at the moment.
Secondly, with the Study Guide in my hand, I began to try to answer the questions from it. When I joined the Study Group, the work divided between all the members in the group. My advantage was that it was the second generation of the group and we could profit from the documentation already developed by the first group.
If you’re preparing by yourself, I think the most important thing is to start, that’s the hardest part. And if you don’t know where to start, Google search the Magento questions, there are already a lot of people that are posting the explanations.
Answers for the questions from the first chapters are the easiest to find. As the number of the chapter is getting bigger, the number of Google results decreases.
But after the first questions, you should understand what is all about and in theory you will no longer need the documentation.
Use Mage::log(Varien_Debug::backtrace(true, false)); for stack trace and xdebug (http://xdebug.org/) to see what’s going on behind the scene. With patience, all the questions find their answers.
Because it was a group, the study was easier for me, but even so, to be sure of the explanation I has to dive deep in the code.
Some of the questions are difficult, but there are also accessible ones. The questions in the exam are off all levels of difficulty.
For Plus, the exam takes 2h not 2.5h as it is specified in the guide.
If you opted for Plus, there are 11 questions from Enterprise and advanced difficulty questions, of which 7 correct ones are required to pass. Basically this is the difficulty difference. For this questions it matters how much Enterprise experience you have.
In the guide for each exam, the questions are broken in percentages for each chapter.
Because in the non Plus certification there are no Enterprise questions, you only have to answer the necessary percentage from the full exam in order to pass and it’s not required to have a certain percentage from a certain chapter.
Things that are done regularly are analyzed in detail, it is important to understand how each function that is approached in each chapter works and what is the purpose of all those tags in the xml files.
Usually there are things you work with, or at least with which there is a good probability you have been working from the modules listed in the guide.
Before you leave the room you’ll know if you’ve passed or not. When you exit the room you’ll receive a printed paper with the correct number of questions from each section from the total number .
In case you haven’t been successful you’ll receive by mail from Magento a voucher with a discount for a future attempt. They state that you should study at least 3 more weeks before you try again. Anyway, after you’ve taken the exam you’ll have a better view over your overall knowledge for a future attempt.
After few days (3 in my case) you will be able to see your profile on the Magento website as a reference.
The diploma got to Romania in about a month, the delivery address is the one from the Magento website account.
Best of luck!
In 2008 when I had my first certification exam there were 22 Zend Certified Engineers in Romania, I was number 23.
With time looks like more people took the exam, and this week the number of 100 Zend Certified Engineers was exceeded!
After a search of PHP ZCE, full of joy, I find that the 100th certified web developer in Romania is actually my colleague and friend Emanuel Croitoru, whom I’ve tortured for weeks on end with: “don’t worry, is easy”.
When the time came to really study the manual it didn’t look that simple. 🙂
But after all, the determination to make this step is just another reason that a ZCE is trying to become a good web developer!
As I was saying in a previous blog, when Zend launched the new ZCE 5.3 certification I’ve received an discount voucher code, available until the end of year 2010. I wanted to use this opportunity, so in the last week of the year I’ve bought the voucher.
I already had the experience of the ZCE 5 certification, about which I’ve blogged at that time.
I wanted to take the exam before the end of the vacation, that is 7-I.
The period was a little short, in theory, I had about two weeks to prepare, but because they ware around the hollydays the time was in fact way shorter.
Zend PHP5 Certification Study Guide – 2nd Edition
I’ve begin my study with Zend PHP5 Certification Study Guide – 2nd Edition. The book even though it does not have the latest 5.3 features is not outdated. Because it wasn’t the first time I was reading it, it felt more like a recap. I’ve tried for each chapter to create an example that will show the functionality and one that shows the cases where the functionality was not as expected. With all this in 4 days I was able to go through the entire book.
As a suggestion, for streams and SPL for instance where is a little difficult to study directly form the manual, the guide looks like a good start.
Because after all the book is a guide, as I was reading the book, I’ve looked in the corresponding chapters in the php.net manual for a more detailed view on the subjects.
Before I finished reading the first book I’ve took a PHP5 mock test and to my surprise the result was “Excellent”. I got the mock tests from when I took the ZCE 5 exam, and because a lot of the questions are repeat quite frequently, I’ve only used 3 back then. This time I’ve only took a couple of them for the same reason. The tests are quite useful for the PHP5 part because, just like there ware described, they are usual more complicated then the exam itself. But don’t take to many of them, especially if the first results are poor, because they may lead you in a false self trust because of the repetitive questions.
Zend PHP 5.3 Study Guide
When I’ve finished reading the first book I started reading the free Zend PHP 5.3 Study Guide, which can be downloaded from the certification page, in the right. The guide is in beta version and you can really feel that. Everyone who’s been talking (blogging) about it is saying that it is full of bugs, and after all that is true. One of the funniest bugs in my opinion is at page 109, question 12, the answer is D… which is not displayed in the page. But I believe that where there are bugs they will be easily discovered and will not mislead.
It feels a lot more like a guide then the previous book, is a lot more concise and abstract and if forces you to study the manual.
At the end of each chapter there are questions, I only had 100% on a couple of chapters. The questions a quite difficult, even more difficult then the questions in the actual exam in my opinion. You have to read each question carefully because in the exam there are the same type of questions.
To go through the entire guide it took me another couple of days because I was already warmed up from the precedent book.
The day before the exam
I’ve read on Lorna “lornajane” Mitchell‘s blog that before the exam is good to recap some delicate subjects. In the day before the test I’ve started to recap some subjects that need more memory then intellect, like the tens of functions for string si array manipulation. Also I think is a good idea to recap SPL.
The exam it self
After not a lot of studding the moment of the exam was here.
Just like the last time, I’ve schedule my exam over the Internet a day before and just went to the Pearson VUE center.
The exam itself didn’t feel more difficult then the PHP 5 one. In my opinion there is more focus on high level OOP and SPL then the previous exam. The style of the questions is quite similar, maybe a little more “type in” questions, but that can be just my luck because the questions are dynamically selected from a question pool with different difficulty levels.
The 90 minutes time has quite enough to go through all the questions whit all the attention required and to review the answers I wasn’t sure about. At the ZCE5 exam I’ve finished about a half of hour before the time. This time for ZCE 5.3 I’ve finished only 10 minutes early because I’ve tried not to rush at all.
READ CAREFULLY! Is very important to read each question carefully and read in again until you are sure you understand what is required of you. Some questions have a quite awkward formulation and can mislead very easy. Don’t panic, if you have doubts maybe you should mark the question for review and come back to it in the end.
I usually mark the first question of the exam for review because I’m nervous and I can’t focus enough.
Unlike 2 years ago, when I was working a lot more with raw PHP and even had some PHP 4 servers, last year I’ve worked most of the time with open-source frameworks. This can be a disadvantage because I’ve didn’t use just as much the core functions. But unlike the first certification I must admit I didn’t study as much, probably is because of experience and the fact that occasionally I flick through the pages of the guide.
And with that being said it is time to put the first check on the year resolution and add a new logo to my blog.
For those who are preparing, I wish you the best of luck!
It looks like Zend, launched a new version of the ZCE 5.3 (zend certified engineer) certification guide. To download it, the simplest way is to go to the certification details page, I mean here, in the right column at “DOCUMENTATION” there’s a link to this guide. The PDF documentation looks like it was modified on 16 Dec. I’m not giving a link to it because it may change when a new version will be available.
I didn’t get to look into it but I’m sure is a step forward to the previous beta version.
Anyway this is a guide and does not have the purpose of replacing the manual, but to indicate the subject of interest.
For me this certification if part of my 2011 resolution, and I hope that before the spring ends I’ll add a new logo to this blog. 🙂
Good luck to those who are preparing for ZCE 5.3!
After taking MySQL Certified Developer exam a few weeks ago, as telling in a previous blog, the moment has arrived. Is a little crooked because it was forced in the mail box, but my diploma has arrived! Surprisingly it took only two weeks, compared to that of the Zend, which took almost 8.
My name was published on the site in a few days, but I was unableto access my account until after I received the diploma. What is strange is that in the envelope is not the password of the account, but the instructions to receive it.
Beside the diploma, in the envelope there are instructions for using the logo and account, and besides that a card with my name and certification, which I do not understand what is for.
And another weird thing is that, the diploma is signed by Micheal “Monty” Widenius and Marten Mickos who no longer work at Sun MySQL. Obviously I do not know how true are the signatures, but at least Ulf Sandberg (VP Service MySQL AB) signature is real.
But diploma looks very good, and make a good pair with the Zend one. Now I hope it will be useful.