I passed the Zend PHP 5.3 exam (code: 200-530) on Nov 9th, 2010 and would like to share some thoughts and feedback.
First of all, the exam is quite complex, yet it’s pretty much easy to pass if you’re writing PHP code using latest additions like namespaces, late static binding or lambda functions. Even if you do not use these techniques in your code, but you’re aware of them and saw PHP syntax for those features (including restrictions like “namespace” keyword proper placement), it would not be a problem for a candidate to pass Zend PHP 5.3 exam.
I did not get myself prepared for the exam as I was too busy working and spending time with my family, but I saw that a couple of people suggested to read Zend PHP 5.3 Study Guide (included with your voucher purchase). Yet I’d definitely not recommend using this guide as it contains lots of errors and inconsistencies and even wrong answers for sample exam questions.
Here is a short abstract that should illustrate that the guide could mislead potential exam candidate
basename(): RETURNS FILENAME COMPONENT OF A PATH
chmod(): CHANGES THE FILE MODE
copy(): COPIES A FILE
delete(): DELETES A FILE
No offense to Zend, but they should not release the document until it’s verified and contains only minor issues (at this time they offer Beta 1.3 version of the document). On the contrary – use manual. And I mean it. There is no better book on PHP to get prepared for the exam other than it’s manual. That’s the only advise I can give if someone interested.
Next, the questions.
PHP 5.3 exam questions are a bit easier than those I saw for PHP5, but the answers are much “better” (read trickier) now. The questions I answered covered lots of PHP topics sometimes, a single question encapsulates several PHP topics and it would be hard to choose the right answer without knowing all of them.
I answered all questions in 40 minutes, marked around 20 for review later and spent some time looking for traps and pitfalls in those 20. And I found that I choose two wrong answers in marked for review questions. So I spent exactly one hour on the test (the same for previous PHP5 exam) which means that allowed 1.5 hours for 70 questions are more than enough.
A bit of not good news. I encountered three questions that were really, totally and devastatingly stupid. As I can not share the real questions, I’ll share the concept and approach. How about this: what is the best approach towards coding?
Possible answers (pick only one):
- Thin model, fat controller
- Fat controller, thin model
Anyway, I really encourage interested parties in taking the exam.
Below you’ll find the topics covered by the questions I answered and the approximate number of questions related to the topics to get the idea of what is being asked:
XML (SimpleXML, DOM, XPath, etc) – 11
AJAX (incl. JSON) – 4
HTML and Forms (POST data, security, escaping, etc) – 15
Headers, sessions, cookies, etc – 8
New PHP 5.3 features – 7
Strings and regex – 15
OOP and design patterns – 7
Arrays – 30,
DB (PDO, storing/displaying data) – 6
Email – 3
Also, I got about 11 “type-in” questions and there were about 6 question on the order of function parameters.
Eventually, you’ll have this nice graphic page on your web-site/resume: