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Acquia Certified Drupal 8 Backend Specialist

This is the study guide for Acquia Certified Drupal 8 Back End Specialist Examination.

In this guide, we’ll explain the exam blueprint, break down the knowledge domains, and help you get familiar with the nature of questions asked in the exam.

You’ll find helpful steps to prepare for the exam as well as links to further resources for study and preparation.

About the exam

The following is the key information about the exam:

  • Exam Name: Acquia Certified Back End Specialist - Drupal 8
  • Exam Duration: 90 minutes
  • Exam length: 60 questions
  • Pass/Fail mark: 70%

The purpose of this exam is to validate the skills and knowledge of a Drupal Developer in the area of Back end Development (Coding). This exam is based on the Drupal 8 platform.

This exam can be taken in a testing center or in your office, provided certain environmental details can be guaranteed (such as a webcam on the testing computer). Do not be discouraged if you do not pass the exam the first time. Many do not.

This exam validates a candidate’s ability to:

  • Design, develop and deploy Drupal 8 based solutions focusing on back end topics
  • Understand the core Drupal 8 basic architecture and best practices for site building and code development
  • Develop and implement new Drupal 8 modules
  • Customize and extend existing Drupal 8 modules

The basic knowledge and skills required include the following areas and objective components:

  • Professional experience using Drupal 8 technology
  • Setup and configuration of Drupal 8 sites
  • Developing new or customizing existing modules
  • Knowledge in HTML, CSS, JavaScript/JQuery, and Object Oriented PHP

Steps to Specialist Certification

Steps to D8 Specialist Certification

Newcomer: You are absolutely new to Drupal.

D7 Developer: You have Drupal 7 Back end development experience, but new to Drupal 8.

D8 Developer: You have Drupal 8 Back end development experience, wish to get certified.

Take Acquia Academy 100 Level Courses

As a newcomer to Drupal 8, take introductory courses in Acquia Academy. We have three courses to get you started on your Drupal 8 journey.

  • Introduction to Drupal 8
  • Building a Basic Site Using Drupal 8
  • Extending and Managing a Drupal 8 Site

After taking the courses, build a small website on your own to reinforce the concepts learned in the courses.

Take Acquia Academy 200 Level Courses

For the Back end Developer path, the next step is to take two comprehensive 200 Level courses in Acquia Academy. The following courses are suggested:

  • Building Websites with Drupal 8
  • Drupal 8 Module Development

If you have previous experience in Drupal 7 development, you should start here. The first course covers advanced site building concepts and in the second course coding and module development concepts are covered from ground-up. The courses also contain hands-on exercises to help you build Drupal 8 based websites and modules.

You can access Drupal 8 preparatory courses on Acquia Academy at https://customers.acquiaacademy.com/learn.

You can access these courses for free and review them as many times as you like. Many of Acquia Academy courses are available, and if you are in an Acquia enablement or training program, you have been assigned the courses you most require to obtain an initial certification.

Courses follow a model of 100-level for introductory material, 200-level for application of the concepts, 300-level for advanced concepts, and 400-level for solution architecture. Those with more exposure to Drupal 8 concepts, or with demonstrated development experience with Drupal 7, may skip the D8 100-level courses.

Developer Learning Path

Gain Practical Experience

Completing the courses may not make you ready for taking the certification exam. You need to have some real-life practical experience to attempt the exam. For this purpose, we recommend that you gain the practical experience by working on at least 2-3 real-life projects.

Perform Self Assessment

Once you decide to take up the exam, we recommend that you study the domains and topics covered by the exam and their relative weightage. You should also perform a Self Assessment of your own areas of strengths and weaknesses vis-a-vis the domains/topics covered by the exam blueprint. This is a recommended starting point for experienced Drupal 8 Back end Developers.

Use Labs and Study Guide

Based on your Self Assessment, you may need to gain knowledge and experience in some Domains or Topics. The best way to learn Drupal is by working or experimenting on it. Follow the suggestions given for preparation in the Preparation section and refer the external resources given in the Study Guide section.

Appear for the exam

At this stage, you should be ready to take the exam. Follow this link to register for the exam. You may choose from an online proctored or an onsite proctored exam delivery option.

Exam Domains

Domain No of Questions
1.0 Fundamental Web Development Concepts 10
2.0 Drupal Core API 20
3.0 Debug code and troubleshooting 4
4.0 Theme Integration 6
5.0 Performance 8
6.0 Security 8
7.0 Leveraging Community 4
TOTAL 60

Backend Breakup

Note

This exam blueprint includes topics /domains and test objectives to help guide the test taker. They should not be construed as a comprehensive listing of all of the content of this examination.

Self Assessment

Experienced Drupalers will likely know their weaknesses more than they know their strengths you might have judged your own skill levels while reading through the four domains listed above. It is quite natural for you to be more experienced and proficient in one domain than another. Also, within a domain, it is quite likely that you have hands-on experience on some topics but have never touched other areas within the same domain.

How to Use Self Assessment

We suggest you perform a skills and expertise self-analysis with respect to the domains and topics listed in the blueprint. The blueprint lists test objectives (topics) for each domain Rank your skills on a scale of 0 to 10 against each test objective (0 for absolutely zero knowledge or exposure and 10 for complete mastery).

  • Topics with 8+ score are your strengths.
  • Topics with a score of 5 to 7 will need some preparation.
  • The ones below 5 may require a lot of preparation, or guided instruction.

You may use the following table to carry out your evaluation.

Acquia Certified Drupal 8 Back End Specialist Self-Assessment Table

Domain Topic Your Score (1-10)
1 Fundamental Web Development Concepts

1.1 Demonstrate knowledge of HTML, CSS, JavaScript

1.2 Demonstrate knowledge of OO PHP programing concepts

1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of managing dependencies using Composer

1.4 Demonstrate the use of Git for version control

1.5 Demonstrate knowledge of automated testing concepts

2 Drupal core API

2.1 Demonstrate an ability to register paths to define how URL requests are handled in Drupal using routing system and Menu API

2.2 Demonstrate ability to build, alter, validate and submit forms using Form API

2.3 Demonstrate ability to interact with the entity system using Entity API

2.4 Demonstrate ability to use core APIs for building and extending Drupal functionality

3 Debug code and troubleshooting

3.1 Demonstrate ability to debug code

3.2 Demonstrate ability to troubleshoot site problems

4 Theme integration

4.1 Demonstrate ability to work with Drupal’s theme system using Render API and JavaScript APIs

4.2 Demonstrate ability to work with Twig templates and syntax

5 Performance

5.1 Demonstrate ability to analyze and resolve site performance issues arising from site configuration

5.2 Demonstrate ability to analyze and resolve site performance issues arising from custom code

5.3 Implement Drupal caching strategies using Cache API

6 Security

6.1 Demonstrate ability to analyze and resolve security issues arising from site configuration

6.2 Demonstrate ability to analyze and resolve security issues arising from site custom code

6.3 Demonstrate the ability to implement Drupal core security mechanisms

7 Leveraging community

7.1 Demonstrate the ability to contribute to the community

7.2 Demonstrate ability to write code using Drupal coding standards

Preparation

Once you have a list of topics for which you need preparation, you will possibly face two challenges:

  1. Find and study documentation and knowledge resources for the topics.
  2. Find enough practical case studies covering the topics.

Knowledge Resources

Finding documentation and online resources is easier. You may register for Acquia Academy Courses and take a course in the relevant domain to refresh your knowledge.

A list of courses on Acquia Academy can be found at https://training.acquia.com/free-training. Depending on your area of weakness, you may wish to take one of the following courses:

  • Building Websites with Drupal 8
  • Drupal 8 Module Development

You can access these courses for free and review them as many times as you like. Many of Acquia Academy courses are available, and if you are in an Acquia enablement or training program, you have been assigned the courses you most require to obtain an initial certification.

Courses follow a model of 100-level for introductory material, 200-level for application of the concepts, 300-level for advanced concepts, and 400-level for solution architecture. Those with more exposure to Drupal 8 concepts, or with demonstrated development experience with Drupal 7, may skip the D8 100-level courses.

Developer Learning Path

We have also made a list of online resources and documentation for each learning domain in the Study Guide section.

Labs / Case Studies

The second challenge of finding enough practical case studies covering the topics is likely to be more daunting. Here are a few ideas and suggestions for finding finding case studies for your preparation:

Back end development

If you have not worked on backend development or module development, preparing for this part of the exam could appear to be a challenging task. In this case, studying the code of modules developed by your team may or may not help, as modules developed could either be extremely complex or very specific to the requirement or use case. The exam expects that you have an overall understanding of Drupal’s API, core plugin system, and their applications.

We suggest that you attend a module development course and/or build a small module on your own to prepare for this domain. If you cannot attend a training program and are a self-learner, you may try the Examples Module (https://drupal.org/project/examples.)

Examples module provides highly documented working code snippets for many of the Drupal APIs and concepts covered under the blueprint of this exam.

Study Guide

Tools to Know for Drupal Development

Drupal Coding Standards

An overview of coding best practices and standards as they are applied in the Drupal community can be found here.

These coding standards, detailed for every area in which code might be produced during Drupal development, represent the broadly established best practices of the community. Adhering to these best practices will make development go more smoothly, and your contributions to Drupal core or modules to be more readily and easily accepted. If you are working on a project with Acquia technical support, these are the coding standards to which pull requests must adhere.

Drush

While not required to pass the Site Builder exam, Drush is considered a basic skill for Drupal site development.

https://github.com/drush-ops/drush

Section 5 : Performance

5.1 Demonstrate ability to analyze and resolve site performance issues arising from site configuration

http://buytaert.net/making-drupal-8-fly

5.2 Demonstrate ability to analyze and resolve site performance issues arising from custom code

https://www.drupal.org/docs/develop/profiling-drupal

Section 6 : Security

6.1 Demonstrate ability to analyze and resolve security issues arising from site configuration

https://www.drupal.org/documentation/modules/filter

https://dev.acquia.com/blog/drupal-8/10-ways-drupal-8-will-be-more-secure/2015/08/27/6621

6.2 Demonstrate ability to analyze and resolve security issues arising from site custom code

https://www.drupal.org/docs/8/security/writing-secure-code-for-drupal-8

6.3 Demonstrate the abilty to implement Drupal core security mechanisms

https://www.drupal.org/docs/8/security

Section 7 : Leveraging Community

7.1 Demonstrate the ability to contribute to the community

https://www.drupal.org/contribute

7.2 Demonstrate ability to write code using Drupal Coding Standards

https://www.drupal.org/docs/develop/standards

Drupalize.me Resources

Drupalize.me has published a concise list of the Drupalize.Me tutorials and other resources that will help you prepare for Acquia Certified Back End Specialist exam for Drupal 8. The list is available at https://drupalize.me/series/module-development-guide.