I have recently passed the Zend Certified Engineer 2017, certification offered by Rogue Wave.
While experience is the most important thing for a certification, books are the best way to expand your knowledge, in my opinion.
Since a certification is something very specific, there aren’t a lot of books.
Before we begin, keep in mind that the most exhaustive resource for learning PHP is the manual, always take a look on all the classes and functions available.
Zend Certified Engineer Exam Study Guide $20
I’ve bought this book just so I can review it and earn my right to have an opinion about it.
The study guide was introduced with the certification for PHP 5.3 and it was a free resource. The quality of the book has updated continually, but never by a lot and at some point it was no longer a free resource.
Over time I kept hoping that it will become better and better, but it didn’t. It’s a short book with a big font and lots and lots of misspellings and errors.
The only good part about it is that it has several questions for each chapter, other then that it’s not a very good resources and it’s not worth the $20, probably about $5 would be closer to a fair price since with every version they just update it a bit and adding the new features of the language. The questions don’t even seem to change a lot over time.
So if it’s the only book you are going to buy, go for the next one.
PHP 7 Zend Certification Study Guide – Andrew Beak – Apress 2017 – $19.99
The book is exploring all the sections for the certification in more depth, it has over 300 pages.
It feels more like a programming book and less like a guilde. The quality of the book is way better than the official guide, but that’s not hard at all considering that the guide set such a low bar.
There are also questions on all the chapters which is a good way to practice your knowledge in an exam format. The questions just feel a bit more soft than the guide, the exam itself has a lot of very tricky questions.
Of course this book is not exhaustive, you can’t really cover all the subjects in depth in a single book, and even if it did, then you would probably not have time to read it anyway.
If you are going to buy a single book, I would recommend this one, since it’s an actual book, not a very high level (and low quality) guide.
Zend PHP 5 Certification Study Guide, Third Edition – php[architect] – $22
If you think that I’ve got the version wrong, well, what can I say? you are right!
I wanted to add this book here because for me it was the best Study Guide. Over the years there were various study guides but this one I liked the most.
For the PHP 5 certification there wasn’t an official certification from Zend, only the first edition of this book. It was just a nice programming book to read. Sometimes, when I want to remember something that I haven’t used a lot, or at all, I will read the chapter in this book.
When I took the PHP 5.5 certification, (because I just had to collect them all) I was happy to find out that there is a new version of the book.
It’s basically the same book but updated to cover the new certification. It may be that I like Davey Shafik’s style of writing.
The book feels a bit more dense in terms of information, for me it just feels more like a study guide then the previous book.
However this book does not have questions and is no longer up to date.
If you have the time you can give it a read anyway, I think it is a good general PHP book.
Not a lot of books for this certification, but if I had to pick only one, it would be the “PHP 7 Zend Certification Study Guide” from Apress.
Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of competition, because the “Zend PHP 5 Certification Study Guide, Third Edition” from PHP Arch is no longer up to date and the official guide just isn’t worth the $20 price tag.
If your boss will buy the books, I say go all in! After all, the cost is: $20 + $19.99 + $22 = $61.99! Not bad for three programming books!
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!