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So, Whatís the Pass Rate? - 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.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  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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I canít help but wonder what the pass rate will be for this exam for two reasons:

  1. I do not think the material presents a challenge. The exam can easily be prepared for by memorization and a few cram sessions.

  2. I do not think the exam requires any real analytical ability.

Despite that, I think the exam does a good job of validating a semi-advanced skill level with the language and it validates syntactical knowledge (ad nauseam). I also believe that in a world where most technology job hiring is done by individuals who do not understand the technology, certifications are good regardless of the actual knowledge tested. I for one got my first job in IT solely on CompTIA A+ and about fifty BrainBench Certifications on everything from Windows 98/Me administration to Word Processing. Were those BrainBench exams worth taking? Absolutely! Did they mean I knew anything about the material in the exams? Not at all!

I am not attempting to compare this exam to a BrainBench test, but it certainly pales in comparison to the difficulty of modern Microsoft exams. Many would argue that Microsoft exams are still easy, but I have to disagree and point out that unless you dedicate excessive study time (80+ hours) or take school courses that amount to a full semester of exam prep, you are in fact required to know the material - and even if you do cram and memorize facts, you still are required to combine them in a meaningful way to solve a problem.

In all fairness, the Zend PHP exam lacks the maturity of Microsoft exams. For years MCSE exams were an absolute joke and required even less analytical thought than a UIL computer science exam, much less the Zend PHP exam. Given time, this test will become much more challenging and the benefits of being certified will become greater. A PHP 5 certification track needs to be established as soon as possible and should focus heavily on use of design patterns, UML and use-case analysis. This exam should be not simply a test of a developerís knowledge of PHP syntax and functions, but a test of a developerís ability to solve a problem with PHP. In a perfect world the exam would be a single scenario stating a few requirements and objectives for which the user is given two or three hours and the proper tools to develop a solution to the problem, with the exam graded by hand by a member of a pool of judges selected by the advisory board. Sure the test would cost four times as much, but it would be worth four hundred times as much.

While hand graded coding exams may be a logistical nightmare (or simply a pipe dream), quality scenario based exams are not. Let us hope that future iterations of the PHP exam will be better, and let us all be glad that the exam is as good as it is, because we have all seen much worse. If you are interested in taking this exam, I suggest you do so if for no other reason than to improve your market value or force your boss to give you that long overdue raise.



 
 
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