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 😉