I made the purchase. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while. I already know a little bit about PHP from having dabbled in it for a while, but have remained otherwise fairly mediocre with it. My logic is kind of like that of a gym membership: if you shovel out the cash to get one, you’ll probably make a point to show up at some point.
In this case, it gives me some motivation to get some broader aspects coded in my brain for the test. I’ve made a few useful things in PHP strictly for my own uses, but found it previously challenging to make much headway in a reasonable amount of time. Hopefully this should speed the process up by the time I’m done with it, and I happen to get a license for the PHP IDE Zend Studio, and a nice little certificate to go with it.
I managed to run across a few blurbs from people who have actually taken the test on what to focus on. Here’s one from an amazon review of php|Architect’s study guide:
Want to pass the exam? Know the following things:
1. What can and can’t go in a function/variable name.
2. What typehints are, how they work, and where they’re applied.
3. What all of the array_*() functions do. The more verbose array_*_*() functions which nobody uses can be safely skipped over.
4. How to use the SimpleXML library in a very general way i.e. access elements, attributes and convert to DOM.
5. Everything about the new object model, including abstract and final classes, the new constructor format, destructors, autoloaders and access specifiers (public, private, protected).
6. How and when to pass by reference.
7. When things go out of scope.
8. What the following php.ini directives do: allow_url_fopen, register_globals, enable_dl, disable_functions.
9. What goes in the superglobals and when ($_SERVER, $_GET, $_POST, $_REQUEST, $_ARGV).
10. What all of the bitwise operators do (you should also be able to convert numbers to and from decimal, octal, hexadecimal and binary notation with nothing but your brain and a piece of scratch paper).
Database topics are covered, but you generally don’t have to know any of the nonsense about mysqli or PDO–these things are all too buggy to actually use anyway, so learning about them is doubly pointless. If you can memorize function argument lists, do so with the preg_ and various string functions, because they like to throw some curveballs that use the optional args no one ever thinks about. If you can’t, then don’t bother because you can usually eliminate at least two of the choices they give you right off the bat and guess your way through the rest.
I found a few other pieces of advice at stackoverflow as well:
Areas of Focus: The main thing to focus on (ridiculous I know) are array and string functions. Believe it or not, a large portion of the exam will test you on knowing which functions do what and even what order the parameters are passed (this is particularly annoying because even among related functions, parameter order is not consistent). Also be aware of the functionality added to PHP 5 (SPL, PDO, object-oriented code, and the new XML functionality with SimpleXML and DOMDocument).
Assuming I dominate this test like I plan to, I might take a shot at one of the Oracle SQL certifications… but I may be getting ahead of myself. Wish me luck.
Oh, I forgot to mention. Part of this “experiment” is that I’m making a killer stack of Anki flash cards. So, in theory, if I continue to use Anki even after passing the test, I should be able to keep a near perfect recall of all of the information I’ve learned. For the uninitiated, Anki is a spaced repetition program much like Mnemosyne, but with the exception that it has a convenient iphone app available.