Zend PHP 5 Certification: Actual vs. Mock Test

Over the course of the past few months, I have been studying and preparing for the Zend PHP 5 Certification exam (ZCE).  During this time, I purchased two five packs of mock tests.  The mock tests mimic the format of the actual test very well, though there are minor differences.  The one thing you will notice right off the bat is that the mock test returns a grade of PASS, FAIL, or EXCELLENT.  The Zend web site says the following with regard to actual vs. mock testing:

Mimics the exact setup of the actual exam and includes 70 questions to be completed in 90 minutes. The questions are different from the ones used in the real exam, however, they are also more difficult and complex—thus, if you score well on this exam, you should be comfortable that you are well-prepared to take the real test.

I got so-so grades on the first few mock tests, but still managed to get a passing grade.  By the end, I had two tests in a row with a grade of EXCELLENT.  I found out in the beginning that the two areas needing the most work were PHP4/5 Differences and Streams & Network Programming.  I studied these areas and brought the scores up to pass, and even excellent eventually.  I continued to study, but was fairly confident that I could pass the exam based on the statement from Zend, and the fact that I had taken and passed eight mock exams, including two classified as “excellent.”

Unfortunately, it was not that simple.  I took the test yesterday, and did not pass.  I was really disappointed because of the amount of work I put into preparing, but even more so due to the statement on Zend’s web site.  The actual test was much harder than they led me to believe.  I think that the statement should be reworded to effectively show the difficulty of this test.

I write this as a warning to those who take the approach I took.  While the mock tests serve as a good benchmark, getting an excellent or passing grade (even eight times) should not be an indication that you will be able to pass.  I know what I have to do now, but I wish I knew this $125 dollars ago.

13 thoughts on “Zend PHP 5 Certification: Actual vs. Mock Test”

  1. I also was thinking about taking this test. But, at the end I decided that it would be better for me to spent time on doing my own php web apps for my portfolio, rather than spending time for studying to this test.

  2. I took the zend php5 exam on Oct 24, 2009 and passed. It wasn’t too bad. Well, my background is in C and Java programming.

    I find Actual vs. Mock Test to be similar in level of difficulty. Actual is more concise in wording of questions. No long 20 lines function like in the mock.

    The problem with doing Mock Tests is that you have seen many of the same questions already so this is an upward bias toward the overall score.

    Make sure you understand the concepts and it shouldn’t be a problem.

    I do recommend doing the mock test until you get passing grades. I ordered 10 but end up doing only 5.

  3. I also took the exam twice and of course I passed the second time. I think the mock test is a little bit misleading and let you underestimate the exam.
    When I took the exam the first time, 2 years ago, I was working in an agency focused on perl programming and I was a long time not programming in php. I studied a lot from the certification book and I didn’t pass.
    Then I changed job, and during this time I’ve been working on php every day, using the book as reference for better practice on my everyday work and then I got another voucher and took the exam and I passed it without studing no more.
    So, my advice is to focus on your real work experience rather that on the certification book.

  4. Hm , strange. I passed test from first, only read twice Zend Certification Study Guide, that all. I think PHP5 ZCE is so old , it’s outdated. More better loook like Zend Framework ZCE, couse ZF need to know OOP and Patterns , and so more cool thinks. Also before I passed ZF ZCE, i study ZF and wrote project on ZF , so it wasnt hard, it was easy :)

  5. Mine experience is also good. I passed exam in first attempt.

    I mostly concentrated my reading on ZCE study guide, then I used to refer those topics examples from PHP manual specially with special cases. Some of questions come from there.

    I must say Zend PHP certification mock test provided great help. Even some question were directly came from mock test.

    I guess you should execute examples while you are reading ZCE and then don’t forget to take print screen of your mock tests so that later you can spend some time with cross checking the answers.

    All the best. I am sure that with the right approach you ll be soon able to clear the exam.

  6. I took the test yesterday, I failed but it was weird result if we see section wise, out of 12 section, i got high grade in 2 section, medium grade in 6 section & low grade in 4 section, so I think I passed at least 60-65%, but the result was fail :(
    anybody know how the result gets calculated??

  7. I came across this by googling “Zend PHP Certification Actual vs Mock Exams”. I’m considering the Zend PHP 5 Certification exam also, however my weak spots are the same as yours. I’m not great with Streams or Network programming and I’m having trouble finding good resources to improve in this area, other than the function definitions on php.net. I was wondering if you had any luck improving in this area and could make any recommendations?


  8. Manuel Sechi:

    I also took the exam twice and of course I passed the second time. I think the mock test is a little bit misleading and let you underestimate the exam.
    When I took the exam the first time, 2 years ago, I was working in an agency focused on perl programming and I was a long time not programming in php. I studied a lot from the certification book and I didn’t pass.
    Then I changed job, and during this time I’ve been working on php every day, using the book as reference for better practice on my everyday work and then I got another voucher and took the exam and I passed it without studing no more.
    So, my advice is to focus on your real work experience rather that on the certification book.

    can u plz guide me what r the stpes i want to do initially for zend cert

  9. I passed the exam on my first attempt. The key to passing this exam is to read the course material for the exam based on the php manual found at php.net. I also used the ZEND PHP5 Certification Study Guide by Shafik & Ramsey, but there is no substitute for the manual. If you read, study hard and try to apply some of the new things you learn to your daily work, you will find the exam a breeze.

    I also found the ZEND PHP 5.3 study guide found at this url (http://downloads.zend.com/guides/php5.3/PHP-5-3-Study-Guide-v1.pdf) invaluable. Good luck if you have not taken the exam yet.

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