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Studying for the Exam - Zend

Thinking about taking the Zend Certified PHP Engineer Exam? Before you do, see what David Fells experienced when he recently took the test and see what you should be ready for and what not to waste your time (or money) on.

  1. Taking the Zend Certified PHP Engineer Exam: My Story
  2. Studying for the Exam
  3. Grading the Exam
  4. So, Whatís the Pass Rate?
By: David Fells
Rating: starstarstarstarstar / 78
November 01, 2004

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By this point I had already purchased both the MySQL Certification Study Guide and the PHP Certification Study Guide from booksamillion.com where, with my discount card and exceptional online pricing, I got both books for about $50, including shipping. If you are planning on taking these exams, this is the place to get the books.

Unfortunately, when going through the Zend study guide, I found numerous errors, several of which are inexcusable mistakes. The guide is mapped closely to the exam objectives published on the Zend website, but the guide lacks breadth in actual content. The chapters tend to focus in on a function or two and beat them to death, presenting the information in a way that encourages either rote memorization (as is the case with the date() and strftime() functions) or skipping the chapter entirely. In addition to this, a lot of the guide went off into the deep end on subjects that were hardly covered at all on the exam. (At least the exam I saw. Maybe Zendís hiding another version that is mapped out like this book.)

An example of this is the chapter on sending email, which goes into a fair amount of detail on MIME encoding and properly sending email through PHP. While these are valuable topics and warrant discussion, they seem to have no place in the guide. The exam coverage on mail is cursory and is limited to basic configuration of php.ini in order to send email, and basic usage of the mail() function.

The guide covered a few topics really nicely, including arrays, OOP, and security. As it turns out, questions on these three subjects comprised the bulk of the exam. The exam contains quite a few questions with painfully academic array situations where you have to resolve the end value that is outputted. (Think high school UIL computer science tests). But the book is littered with errors in the sample questions, some of which have erroneous syntax, but for which the answer choices assume syntax to be correct. Several questions do not provide the right number of correct answers (based on the number you are told to choose in the question).

The most irritating error to me was the swapping of definitions regarding passing by value and passing by reference in the glossary. This is a fundamental exam concept and coverage in the book is diluted with bad examples regarding references; glossary errors do nothing whatsoever to add clarity to the situation. I have already submitted my list of errors to Zend and hopefully they will be addressed in the next publishing. (This will occur next month, according to the representative I spoke with.) All in all, the book is worth reading but be on your toes, it's fairly buggy and not entirely accurate on some things.

>>> More Zend Articles          >>> More By David Fells

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