Yep, it's a fact. Here's the proof.
I took the exam almost a month ago but waited so that most of the details are erased from my memory, so that I don't accidentally violate the exam's rules which state that you should not reveal information about the exam.
So I took the exam at a discounted price - just about a 100 Canadian dollars (1 CAD < 1 USD). There was a PHP conference in town , guys from Zend were attending and as part of the conference, Zend were offering the exam at such a price. I even get to speak to the guy himself, I mean Daniel Kushner, the guy responsible for the certification and the education at Zend.
There were a few surprises during the exam, both in terms of the exam questions and the administration of the exam.
The first surprise was that the test was paper based. My guess is that this was because the exam was administered as part of the conference, in a hotel, and not in a specially designed VUE test center. Well, actually there was another surprise before that and this was that one had to have a zend.com account and a registration ID in order to take the exam. I don't know if that has something to do with the fact that the exam was not administered in "normal" test center. Anyway, Daniel gave me his laptop so I was able to register pretty quickly.
The actual exam surprise was that I didn't have enough time! I've always been a fast test taker and have always completed the tests well before my classmates and I've always wondered why it takes them so much. It's either you know something or you don't. Well, in most cases. Well, it's actually either you think you know it or you don't. Or you don't remember. Or something 🙂 Whatever. Then in addition to that, I've read a blog posting about this guy who said he completed the test in no time and then had enough time to go back and change most of the answers. So I expected to have enough time and I decided to play it safe and just "pencil" my answers on the answer sheet with a small dot and then to go back and review the answers. Well, the time was passing and I still haven't completed all the questions, so I gradually started filling out the circles completely when I was sure about my answer. In any event, I spent the last 5 or 10 minutes of the exam just filling out circles. I didn't have time to review any of my answers. I thought it's either the exam questions are too difficult or I'm just getting old. There was a total of 70 questions and I had hour and a half to complete the exam. So this makes a minute or so per question. In the last 10 questions you were expected to write down the answers as text, they were not just multiple-answers.
So my overall impression is that the exam should not be underestimated and some questions were a bit time-consuming. Not that you need to do calculations or something, but when it comes to regexps or several string functions combined... OK, I've said enough. In any case, I don't think there were trick questions (or I was tricked so I didn't notice) but there were a few occasions when I was sure a spotted the correct answer and I was finding even more correct ones 🙂
Good luck to everyone who is preparing for the exam! I'll keep on blogging on exam-related topics, I even have some unfinished blog entries from back then when I was preparing for the exam. And when I come across an interesting php tidbit that looks "examie" I'll make sure I drop it here. In case you haven't read my previous blog entries from back then when I was preparing for the exam, here's the PHP certification category.
So again good luck to everybody who's preparing for the exam! You can do it!