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How to Pass the ZCE PHP 5.3 Exam

This topic recently came up in our Nashville PHP User’s Group.  I made a reply to someone’s question as to what was involved in passing the exam.  I felt it was good a good post, so I have posted it here for posterity:

I took and passed the ZCE PHP 5.3 exam back in March of this year.  If you wish to prepare for this exam, I would do the following.  Get Ben Ramsey’s book.  It was an essential part of my study as I read it a couple of times and took notes while doing so.  It is old and written for the PHP 5.0 exam.  Much has changed since it was written,  but it is still essential in my opinion.  You can pick up a copy HERE.  There is also a PHP 4 practice test book which is out of print.  Unlike Ben’s book it is geared towards the PHP 4 exam, but it is also useful.  You can find it HERE.  Zend also has a study guide HERE.  The practice questions in the study guide at the end of each chapter are good,  but I would wait to take those practice questions towards the end of your study.  There is a practice test engine for the exam (requires Windows) that you can purchase from uCertify HERE.  I bought the test at a discount, and it was useful.  (Search for online coupon codes.)   Its good to use as a practice for taking timed PHP exams, but don’t expect it to reflect the actual exam.  The actual exam is MUCH more difficult.  As I said, the Zend study guide is helpful as is Ben’s book,  however they are by no means comprehensive as to what you need to know.  So what do you need to know?  THIS pretty much says it all.  You need to know everything.  Its a lot to memorize, but to pass this exam you’ll need to go to the PHP Manual and memorize it ALL.  That includes classes, functions and methods, function parameters, what gets returned given the different arguments,  initialization settings, etc, etc…  Memorize the whole manual because they can (and probably will) ask you anything or a little of everything.  For me, the amount of memorization required was the most difficult part of preparing for this exam.   However, its more than simply memorization.  The questions make you think while you are taking the exam.  Be prepared for the unexpected, trick questions, and don’t panic.  :–)  You have to know how it all fits together.  All this being said.  I’m not trying to discourage you.  Just be prepared to study hard,  and when you pass you’ll know and appreciate (even if no one else does) what it is you have achieved.  To date, only 25 people in Tennessee have passed this exam.