How To Ace Your Drupal Certification Exam
The Drupal community is large and diverse. There are many ways to get involved, but I’d like to talk to you about becoming certified.
A great choice is to look at taking the Acquia Drupal 8 Developer exam. This exam doesn't just test your knowledge of Drupal, but it also challenges you to consider best practices and understand Drupal standards. Personally, I find Acquia certification exams motivate me to grow as a developer.
However, every exam is a nerve-wracking experience. I’ve found that the key to success is to break it into its three core components:
- review of requirements,
- studying, and
- taking the exam.
Review of Requirements
It’s good to start by reviewing the exam wireframe on the certification site.
Unlike those exams you had in school, you can’t just cram for this one and pass. Acquia certification exams are experience-based which means that they are heavily focused on those real-life scenarios developers face every day. Though you can attempt the exam no matter what level of experience you have, it’s generally recommended to have at least six months of Drupal experience working on decent size projects -- as well as some specific Drupal 8 experience.
The exam is multiple choice and you have options to take it online or go to the testing centre. If you don't have good Internet connection or quiet environment around you it could be better to go to the test centre. If you decide to take the exam online be prepared to stay at your desk for the entire time of exam in progress. You will also have to have a web cam and will not be allowed to have any electronic devices near you including watches and fitness trackers.
The exam consists of the following domains:
Fundamental Web Development Concepts
This may be an easy win for you if you’re comfortable with advanced CSS, responsive design principles, GIT, and principles of OOP PHP. If you struggle with any of these, however, you may want to first brush up on these concepts.
If you have experience with Drupal 7, this shouldn't present a challenge. Drupal 8 carries over much from its previous iteration. However, there are some new concepts in place including form modes, view modes changes, and ways to work with blocks.
With many modules that we use on day-to-day basis now a part of core (e.g. views and date), it might be good to refresh your knowledge on them and go through advanced views configuration click adventure.
If you are unfamiliar with new field types provided by core it could also be useful to configure one or two content types and see how it all comes together.
Front-End Development (Theming)
This is where Drupal 8 is very different from Drupal 7. PHP template is gone and a new template engine, TWIG, is in place. I would recommend getting to know TWIG from its website, and then move on to the theming documentation on Drupal.org.
It's important to cover template overrides, TWIG filters, functions, and control structures. The preprocess level on Drupal 8 is very similar to Drupal 7, so a quick brush up should be enough. The second major component that you will need to cover is sub-themes and libraries in Drupal 8 as well as Drupal 8 core themes Stable and Classy.
Back-End Development (Coding)
It's a whole new world in Drupal 8. If you are unfamiliar with OOP concepts and principles I would strongly recommend returning to domain one (Fundamental Web Development Concepts) and reviewing them first. A base understanding of Symfony components, including routes and events, would also be very useful.
The changes to main Drupal APIs and the concepts of plugins and services can be covered next -- Drupal.org offers great resources to get that information. Trying to build your first simple module (if you haven't already) as well as looking through the examples module could be very useful.
Taking the Exam
The biggest advice I can give you is to trust your gut. The exam, in general, is not tricky and is based on the experience of developers who work with Drupal on a daily basis. The time constraints are not pressing either, so make sure you take your time, read questions carefully, and consider all options. And pay great attention to details.
Have fun studying and taking the test. Good luck!