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Grading 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
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November 01, 2004

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Luckily I found no real problems with the exam except the silly questions that do nothing to test your ability to solve a problem and instead test your ability to resolve unrealistic syntactical mazes. There were a lot of questions on object oriented programming with PHP (the exam only covers PHP < 4.3.6, so no PHP 5 features were covered), mostly focusing on references and function return values, as well as object cloning. Security was covered quite a bit, focusing of course in XSS (Cross-Site Scripting), Injections, Sessions, and Cookies.

Beyond these things, coverage was somewhat random. A small number of simple questions related to regular expressions, file management, and streams showed up as well as a couple of questions about configuration and debugging. The exam had a few questions about design patterns, much to my surprise, though the context of the question and the multiple choice format of those questions made the answers quite obvious.

I would have liked to see more scenario based questions, fewer "name that function" questions, and even fewer "pick the right parameter order for this function" questions. Donít get me wrong. I think fundamental syntax and function questions are crucial to testing a developer, but what about problem solving? Programming exists for one reason: to solve problems. This test does not dig into that.

Microsoft exams for C# and VB.NET require syntactical knowledge as well as analytical ability. It makes little sense to me to bog an exam down with questions that, for a real developer, are part of day to day reference material. I frequently forget which string function I want to use for some random task or what format identifier to use for some date representation, but it does not matter--PHP.net is always available. What is not available in an instant is an appropriate solution for the problem in front of you. This exam fails to test problem solving completely, but I will concede that problem solving was not listed in the exam objectives.

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

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