Acquia certification exams

Posted on Sun, 09/14/2014 - 17:25

Drupal is definitely a framework enterprises can leverage. I think few would argue this. But, the term open source freaks out a lot of people. What it boils down to is how to best leverage this framework. This means that we as a community need to adopt best practices in how Drupal is used. While these best practices may be enforced when contributions are made back to the Drupal community, it certainly is at a developer's discretion on how to set up Drupal for their specific web property. As such, a tool needs to exist to measure these developers against best practice. Acquia's certification exams have made a bold step to having a measurable way to evaluate someone's Drupal prowess.


I recently passed both the overall and the back-end developers exams. I certainly was surprised by how much depth was covered in the exam. I found both exams to be appropriately challenging. They certainly were not about which module to install and when (which I think represents a fairly shallow knowledge of the Drupal system itself). The questions were mostly situational about Drupal itself. The overall exam was really broad from theming, back-end, and proper Drupal configuration best practices. The developer back-end exam was more focused on APIs, programming methodology, and proper technique for interacting with the various Drupal subsystems. I was a little surprised how many front-end questions showed up on my exam. However, it's only appropriate that a back-end exam must have some high-level knowledge of CSS and how to properly override theming behavior. 


Why should I care?

This is a legitimate question.  


First, this gives you a measurable way to see where your strengths are and what you can improve on. You may not care about this, but certainly someone who wishes to grow within the community would want to know where they need to develop (no pun intended). The results may not be perfect, but they may help identify some trends. Again, these are new exams. Future iterations may become more polished. But, I certainly believe this was a great first step and I personally thought my results were spot on with my current knowledge and ability.


Second, this is a certification. This is a measurable way to demonstrate your abilities to future employers and/or clients. Look at this from another angle: would you rather have someone certified working on your site or someone who was not? I would say this angle is less about you and more about those you may interact with down the road. Just like any certification, this is about standards and best practices. I certainly think it is advantageous to not only buy into best practices but to have a measurable way to ensure you understand them situationally.


Still think you shouldn't care? Well, this exam may not be for you! Maybe you have a profile that lists hundreds of widely adopted community modules you built or regularly contribute to. Or, maybe you have a resume that lists many highly visible and well-known enterprise websites visited by millions of people. Then yes, You may not need this tool to demonstrate your ability. I would say that is reserved for only the highest caliber of developers within this community. Many community members are not in that boat, yet definitely possess the chops and the ability that could be demonstrated by such an exam. I would say the broader community fits into this category.


Mawr details plz


  • To pass, you need to achieve a 70% score. This certainly does not mean you need to be an expert in absolutely everything.
  • Exams are proctored, but can be taken online or a certified testing center. No Googling, no, and certainly no books or outside resources like your cell phone.
  • Acquia has many online resources that describe the high-level subject matter found on each exam. I certainly will not be repeating this here.
  • No, this is not meant to push anyone out of the Drupal community. Actually, it is a tool to help you figure out what subject matter you need to learn more about. I'd say this is beneficial, not anything to the contrary.
  • Feedback is welcomed. I know the fine folks who set up the exams and continue to refine it. They want your feedback and certainly want to make sure the community has every opportunity to help improve this effort.