ZCE 5.3 – Zend Certification: My happy experience

Você pode ler este post em português também.

I’m very happy with the result and with the congratulations received, thank you people.


I wrote here my impression about the test, and what I did to get certified.


  • Calm down, take it easy, the test is not so hard! I think the only important point is that you must be a PHP programmer, using it in day to day, and somehow (at work and/or in your personal projects) being in contact with items as closures, namespaces and OOP in general;
  • Do not leave questions empty! According to Zend’s own staff, is better to make mistakes than show indecision;
  • Surely the test will go beyond the day-to-day which the majority of PHP programmers go. So study a lot. Binary / hex / octal math is a great choice;
  • The test for version 5.3 removed the subject “Differences between PHP 4 and 5”. So do not waste your time studying it;
  • The test is full of pitfalls, so some tricks as:
    $a = function($var)
       $b = "Hello $var";
       return $b;
    $c = $a('Adriano');
    print $c;
    are normal. And if you think this code prints “Hello Adriano” you have a problem… LOL…;
  • Do several readings on Array functions and String functions pages, it will guarantee to you some extra points;
  • There will be approximately one minute and 14 seconds per question. Save time reading the conceptual questions only once. Use the “flag” feature, that allows you to return to a marked question later;
  • You will have one year to perform the test after confirming the purchase of the voucher. It is a long time, so I suggest you make the purchase and schedule the test to force yourself to study with a set deadline. All instructions for the process are very easy (to create an account at PearsonVue, etc.), just make sure that there is a PearsonVue center near to you to perform the test.


An introduction: In 2011 I had a big scare when I bought the voucher and I opened the book Zend PHP Certification Guide 5.3: PHP is much more than almost anything I had read so far. I decided I should try and read a lot! So I chose, bought and read the books contained at the end of this post.

After seeing that I would have much to study, I forgot the test and I launched a deep PHP exploration. I read the books, I tested the code that seemed weird, I did many (but many!) notes, and I did lots of experiences! I admit it was the coolest stage of this whole thing. The PHP website was the best appendix while reading the books.

The reading of the books took me a long time. Almost at the end of 2011, I put all that notes and scribbles in books together and I created a summary, focused now in ZCE. With the summary ready, I did read it again. The points in doubts were revisited. Five days before the test, I splitted all questions and answers in different PDFs, then I did perform the test as a simulation, allowing me only one minute and 14 seconds to answer each question, doing something between 10 and 20 questions per day. The intention was to do a “warming” towards the test.

Between one and another book, I listened to the PHPSPCast podcasts (only in brazilian portuguese, I miss them!). The focus of this podcast is purely PHP, so there are valuable tips for anyone who wants to get the certification. Although I confess some discomfort when I heard that Rafael Dohms did not pass the first time he performed the exam. :-


After this mega-operation to get the “The logo”, I concluded that I overdid at this time: I studied more than really needed, but look: now I’m a much better programmer than before. And I feel myself far from where I would like to be. 😛

The logo - Zend Certified Engineer (PHP 5.3)
"The logo"

I’m newly certified then I really don’t know what be a “ZCE” will bring to me. But I’ve had good news: I won licenses for Zend Server and Zend Studio with this good result. I became part of an exclusive group on LinkedIn, where the discussions have an improved level. My first impression.

About employability, I twist my nose a little bit. Compare with a Microsoft certification: you can compete for a job position with a person who, like you, has over 10 years of experience in software branch. If you have a MCSE and he/she does not, you are ahead, brother. But this conclusion implies the recruiter which is conducting the selection knows what MCSE is. And here lies my concern: do the recruiters and headhunters know about ZCE as they know about Microsoft certifications? I doubt it. So if you want to get a better job, my opinion: I don’t know if the ZCE will works for it. At doubt, do the exam.


  • [Necessary] Zend. Zend PHP 5.3 Certification. Zend Technologies. 155 pages. ISBN unavailable;
  • Shafik D, Ramsey B. Zend PHP 5 Certification. Study Guide. php|architect’s. 259 pages. ISBN: 0-9738621-4-9;
  • Alshanetsky L. Guide to PHP Security. A step-by-step guide to writing secure and reliable PHP applications. php|architect’s. 197 pages. ISBN: 0-9738621-0-6;
  • Sweat J. Guide to PHP Design Patterns. A practical approach to design patterns for the PHP4 and PHP5 Developer. php|architect’s. 338 pages. ISBN: 0-9735898-2-5;
  • [Necessary] Gutmans A, Bakken S, Rethans D. PHP 5 Power Programming. Bruce Perens’ Open Source series. Prentice Hall. 720 pages. ISBN: 0-131-47149-X
  • [Necessary] Williams J, Wichers D. OWASP Top 10 – 2010. The ten most critical web application security risks. Aspect, Mitre, Softtek, WhiteHat. 22 pages. ISBN unavailable.

See you 😉

9 thoughts on “ZCE 5.3 – Zend Certification: My happy experience

  1. Hi Adriano,

    Thanks for the detailed post. So just to confirm: are you sure that missing “;” is a trick rather than typo? As far I as know the test does not show whether each answer correctincorrect.

    Also were there any OS specific questions? For instance time or file system related questions specific to Windows or Linux?


    1. Hello Alex!

      I considered as a trick because the question was about “What will be the printed result for the code below?” and the presented choices were: a) ‘Hello Adriano’; b) A fatal error will occurs; c) ‘Hello’;… If you don’t pay enough attention, could think that something would be printed.

      About specific OS questions, I really do not remember any. In fact at the Certification Guide and just before the test they inform you that will have no questions related to a specific OS.

      Sorry be the late answer!



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  3. Congrats, I’m preparing for Zend PHP 5.3 exam, this post give me a lot of information, Thank you so much.


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