Passing the Zend PHP exam
April 6th 2018
My name is Florian Stancioiu, I am twenty-five years old and I live in Targoviste, Romania.
I started working as a web developer five years ago and I'm currently using the Laravel framework to do most of my work. I recently became a Zend Certified Engineer (ZEND029101) and I'm writing this article to share my thoughts regarding the exam and the certification.
What is the Zend PHP Certification?
The official website describes it as "an industry-wide standard that recognizes PHP expertise". If you want your PHP skills to be officially recognized, the ZCE certification is what you need.
The certification is released by Rogue Wave Software, a company based in Colorado, USA. In October 2015, they acquired the rights to issue the official PHP certifications.
How much it costs?
The exam is not free to take, you need to buy a 195 US dollars voucher in order to schedule the exam.
Be aware that the voucher has an expiry date, it's valid for only a year from the date of purchase.
Is this an online exam?
This is not an online exam, in order to take the exam you need to schedule a date and a location to a Vue Pearson center.
Which PHP version is used in the exam?
The exam covers the latest LTS release of the language - PHP 7.1.
There are some misconceptions regarding the Zend certification, I will attempt to clarify them bellow.
Does ZCE has anything to do with the Zend framework?
No, the ZCE exam is all about PHP and PHP only, it has nothing to do with the Zend framework. However, there is a different exam for the framework which sounds similar to this one, it's called Zend Framework Certification or ZFE for short.
Is it true that the exam questions are about specific function parameters and return types?
Not really, don't expect questions like "what's the variable type of the fourth parameter of function x?". The questions usually revolve around the end result of a given piece of code.
Do I have to memorize all functions presented in the PHP manual?
No, you don't need to do that. However, you should be familiar with as many as possible. You should have an idea of what a string or array function is doing when you see one (but not necessarily know all its parameters inside out).
The exam is composed of around 75 random questions, the questions test more than one concept at a time. The questions cover 11 different areas of PHP (view topics), there are 90 minutes allowed to answer all the questions.
The types of questions are a single correct answer (the most frequent in the exam), multiple correct answers and free text.
While taking the exam, you can mark the questions for later review or give a definitive answer that can't be changed later on, there is no limit on the number of questions that are marked for later review and you can revisit marked questions more than once. I recommend that you use the mark for review feature as much as possible.
The exam topics have different levels of importance:
The most important ones are:
The ones with an average importance are:
- Web Features
- Strings & Patterns
And the ones with the lowest importance:
- Error Handling
- Data formats and types
You are immediately notified if you passed the exam or not, in case you don't pass, you are given feedback regarding your score in all the different topics so that you get an idea of what you need to learn.
Should you give the exam a try? Is the exam easy?
If you are reading this article, chances are that you too want to pass the Zend exam and prove your PHP skills. The exam is not easy, in order to pass it you need years and years of professional experience with PHP or spend countless days studying and testing your knowledge. Some people like to mock the exam and claim that it doesn't test your coding skills, which is ridiculous.
There's no such thing as a lucky or amateur Zend engineer, the exam is tough and you need to go through an intense training to be able to pass it.
How to train for it? Resources
If you decide to give the exam a try and you look for resources, you are in luck. There are many resources to help you including books, video courses, and websites.