Claudiu Persoiu

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Passing Zend PHP5.3 Certified Engineer Exam

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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 The book even though it does not have the latest 5.3 features is not outdated.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 manual for a more detailed view on the subjects.

Mock tests

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!

Written by Claudiu Persoiu

8 January 2011 at 1:56 PM

Zend PHP5 Certified Engineer

without comments

Si a venit si momentul examenului (a si trecut). Dupa poate ceva mai putin timp decat ar fi trebuit pentru studiu, in ultima zi de concediu am decis sa sustin examenul.

Taxa am platit-o direct la Zend cu un card Visa Electron. Apropo, sa nu faceti aceeasi gresala ca mine, nu incercati sa platiti cu alt card decat cel personal! Am avut aproximativ 5 incercari, doua telefoane in Germania si unul in USA am ajuns sa-mi fac card pentru a cumpara examenul si alte cateva produse! Evident exista si alte metode de plata, dar nu la fel de rapide.

Cand am ajuns la programare, a fost deosebit de simplu, poate prea simplu pentru mine. Totul a mers conform planului, m-am programat si am asteptat ziua examenului.

Ziua examenului. Pentru ca nu aveam nici cea mai mica idee unde se afla centrul ales de mine din cadrul complexului Facultatea de Drept Bucuresti, am decis sa dau un telefon preventiv… nici un raspuns, am mai incercat, era suficient de tarziu cat sa fie cineva acolo si totusi… nici un raspuns.

Am hotarat sa ma duc acolo. Nu mica mi-a fost surpriza cand nimeni nu a auzit de Pearson VUE, iar cand spun asta nu ma refer la femeile de servici care tineau locul de portarului, ci la cei care raspund la telefonul de pe site. Dupa suficiente legaturi din centrala am gasit si centrul (undeva in dreapta) este de fapt un centru CISCO afiliat Person VUE.

Examenul a fost exact asa cum a fost descris pe site, singur in sala, fara obiecte personale, iar acelea care poti sa le iei cu tine in sala de examen nu pot sa le scoti. Examenul este supravegheat cu o camera, care ma facea sa cred ca voi auzi “zzz, zzzz” in timpul examenului de la zoom, dar nu a fost asa.

Examenul, asa cum scrie si in manualul de la Zend, se bazeaza pe experienta cu PHP. Trebuie sa ai cel putin idee de elementele PHP si in special sa ai ochiul format pentru debuging. Cum era de asteptat se analizeaza mai mult elementele atipice de implementare, functii standard PHP si mai putin capacitatea de a scrie cod, dar pana la urma este grila, nuprea aveau cum sa faca altfel. Examenul nu mi s-a parut foarte dificil, dar nici simplu. Se vede clar experienta cu PHP in intrebari, se vede cine s-a “jucat” si cine nu.

La finalul examenului, mi-a aparut “Congratulations you have passed the exam”, sau ceva de genul asta, eram prea fericit ca sa mai memorez.

A doua zi lucratoare am avut si profilul completat pe site, desi puteam sa-l editez la cateva ore de la terminare (de cand am ajuns acasa).

Acum astept diploma care se trimite prin posta, cred ca asta se trimite din Israel deci… o sa fie un cadou frumos de Craciun probabil…

Am uitat sa amintesc de “mock” testele pentru examen. Desi am primit la pachet 10, nu am folosit decat 3, iar cu fiecare test facut scorul a crescut. Din pacate motivul pentru crestere este ca intrebarile se repeta (nu toate dar suficiente) si nici macar nu le-am regasit in examen, forma este asemanatoare, dar diferentele sunt mari in continut. Va sfatuiesc sa nu luati pachete mari pentru ca rezultatele nu o sa mai fie relevante dupa primele teste.

Am citit pe alte bloguri care testul este mai ushor decat examenul. Eu nu am aceeasi parere, gradul de complexitate este de fapt similar, doar intrebarile deosebit de stufoase nu se regasesc in examen, in rest sunt similare.

Written by Claudiu Persoiu

17 September 2008 at 8:36 PM