Acquia Certified Developer and Forcontu Drupal Certification

Since the Acquia Certification Program was launched in 2014, I've been evaluating whether or not to take the test. In the end I decided to do it for one fundamental reason, which is to verify whether the training plans we developed in Forcontu are aligned with the certification of Acquia and may be useful to prepare the exam.

Well, I'll try to detail as much as possible my experience with Acquia Certified Developer Exam to help those who want to be certified by Acquia (and / or Forcontu). At the end of this post I comment my test results :)

Exam structure

The exam consists of 60 questions divided into these domains:

  • 1.0 Fundamental Web Concepts (10%, 6 questions)
  • 2.0 Site Building (30%, 18 questions)
  • 3.0 Front-end Development, Theming (27%, 16 questions)
  • 4.0 Back-end Development, Programación (33%, 20 questions)

So you have to know a little of everything and a lot of programming, so if you've only used Drupal as a content manager or a Site Builder, this certificate is not for you. Alternatively there is a specific certificate for Site Builders.

You have 90 minutes, which is long enough, but remember that the test is in English and that could be an additional handicap if English is not your native language. If you lose an additional 10 seconds per question because of language, you have a handicap of 10 minutes. So it is very important not only that you become comfortable with English, but you've managed Drupal in English, because references to interface options are always in English (Manage fields, Manage display, view modes, etc., are concepts we have to know well in English).

To pass the exam you need at least 65% correct answers (39 of 60 correct questions)

Types of questions

The questions are not tricky. As others commented, follow your instincts. If you know the answer you can be sure it is the right one. It doesn't mean you do not have to read well the question and answers. Wrong answers don't have extra penalty, so answer all the questions even if you're not sure.

Most of the questions are single-choice (radio buttons), although there are some multiple-choice questions, which appear as checkboxes. Don't worry, this multiple-choice questions are well identified (for example: Select 2 possible solutions to this issue).

The questions are generally long, so you have to read carefully. Some people recommend leaving the longest questions to the end, but I do not recommend it because it would be a lot of mental burden on the end of the exam. It is better to answer the questions as they come, dedicating the time necessary. Long questions will be offset by other shorter and will be easier.

Before the exam

You have to install a sentinel software. You also need a webcam, which can be external or internal. Although they recommend an external one, you have to deal with placement at the correct angle, so you better use your notebook with the integrated camera. It is recommended that you use Firefox (not Chrome), and have to check that everything is working properly on this link (

If you get an error before or during the exam, you can contact support through a chat window and they will assist you. I had two technical problems that were solved smoothly:

  1. An error when running the application exam, for which I had to install Adobe Flash for Internet Explorer, which apparently is necessary in Windows even if you're not using IE.
  2. I tried to take the exam in a satellite Internet connection, but the ping was too high and the video was not transmitted properly. They rescheduled the exam for the next day and I could do it from another location, without any additional cost.

During the exam

When you purchase the exam (USD250), you have to indicate at what date and time you want to do it, so check your agenda carefully. You can start the exam from 10 minutes before the scheduled time and 20 minutes later. For example, if you have scheduled for 11:00, you can start the exam between 10:50 and 11:20. In that time slot you will see a Launch button to start the exam, which will disappear when the time is up. The exam will last for 90 minutes regardless of when started.

If you do not appear at the time of examination, you lose your money. So if during that time slot you have any technical problem to start the exam, contact support via the chat window. They will help you fix it, and if you can not at the moment, they can reschedule the exam for another date.

You can not leave the camera frame during the test. If there are any technical problems with video or audio, the exam stops and you have to talk with technical support from the chat window that opens. Do not panic and follow his instructions to fix the problem. That time lost due to technical problems does not count.

All the time you will see a counter that indicates the time remaining. As starts at 1h 30m, I dialed the challenge complete at least until question 30 (half the test) before the first 30 minutes. That way I would be spending about 60 minutes in the first round and still have another 30 minutes to review some questions. During the exam you can mark some questions as "needs revision", in order to review them in a second round.

Even if you have doubts with a question, select the answer that you think most accurate and check "needs review." Do not leave questions unanswered in the first round, in case you run out of time to complete a second one.

Also consider that the questions are not ordered from easiest to hardest or by subject area, so you can start with a complex question. Do not get depressed, certainly come easier and short questions where you have to spend less time.

Use all the time available. They are not going to give an award for being the fastest, so do not be shy and use all the time to review and rethink the questions that you have doubts. I finished the first round in about 65 minutes and left me 25 minutes to review. The truth is that in the second round I just changed 2 or 3 answers.

If you finish early and do not want getting around, you can send the exam. Otherwise, wait to complete the exam time and it will be sent. Otherwise, wait to complete the exam time and automatically sent. Automatically you have your results on screen. In addition, the system will send you an email with the results. You can also check the results at any time in your record of certificates, so no need to copy the result. Relax and enjoy. :)

Preparing the exam

There are two essential guidelines you can follow to study and review the topics that you don't have under control:

In addition, Acquia provides this document with some links, which are roughly the same collected by the above (must be registered to download the document):

And here's a guide adapted to the materials that you can find in Forcontu. Approximately 90% of the content that you need to study is included in the course (and books) Expert in Drupal 7 by Forcontu. For those contents that are not in our agenda or where need to go deeper, I added some additional links.

DomainContent available in ForcontuAdditional links
Domain 1.0: Fundamental Web Development Concepts
1.1. Demonstrate knowledge of HTML and CSS Unit 29. Customizing Themes (Introduction to HTML and CSS)  
1.2. Identify PHP programing concepts Unit 71. Introduction to PHP
1.3. Identify JavaScript and jQuery programing concepts Unit 57. Using jQuery and Ajax  
1.4. Demonstrate the use of Git for version control Unit 60. Contributing to the Drupal Community (units 1, 2 and 3)
Domain 2.0: Site Building
2.1 Demonstrate ability to create and configure Content Types with appropriate fields and field settings for building basic data structures Unit 4. Content management
Unit 5. Content types
Unit 22. Advanced content types
Unit 24. Automatic image processing
2.2. Demonstrate ability to configure field display and view modes for content types
2.3. Demonstrate ability to create and use Taxonomy vocabularies and terms for classification and organization of content Unit 11. Taxonomy  
2.4 Demonstrate ability to configure Blocks for building layouts from information widgets Unit 7. Blocks management
2.5 Demonstrate ability to build main and alternative navigation systems by using Menus Unit 6. Menu management
Unit 8. Themes
2.6 Demonstrate ability to create and configure Views for building content list pages, blocks and feeds Unit 23. Views RSS with Views:
Domain 3.0: Front end development (theming)
3.1 Given a scenario, demonstrate ability to create a custom theme or sub theme 29. Customizing Themes
56. Creating themes
50. Programming content types
3.2 Demonstrate knowledge of theming concepts
3.3 Demonstrate ability to build or override PHP templates for defining layout content
3.4 Demonstrate ability to use theme() functions for overriding custom output
3.5 Demonstrate ability to write template pre¬process functions for overriding custom
Domain 4.0: Back end development (coding)
4.1 Demonstrate ability to develop Custom Modules using Drupal API for extending Drupal functionality Unit 44. Creating modules
Unit 46. Menu system
Unit 47. Creating forms
Unit 48. Programming blocks
Unit 49. Programming users and permissions
Unit 50. Programming content types
Unit 51. Programming entities and fields
Unit 52. Programming actions and triggers
Unit 53. Working with Files
Unit 54. Search system
Unit 57. Using jQuery and Ajax
Batch API
Cache API
Queue Operations!system!
4.2 Demonstrate ability to work with Drupal's Database Abstraction Layer for managing tables and CRUD operations on data Unit 45. Database access and database schemas
Unit 60. Contributing to the Drupal Community (hook_update_N)
Unit 72. Introduction to MySQL
4.3 Demonstrate ability to debug code and troubleshoot site problems Unit 42. Tools for developers
Unit 43. Drupal Architecture
Troubleshooting overview
Common installation problems
Accounts, permissions, and login issues
Debugging WSODs (white screen of death)
Common error messages in Drupal and their fixes
Site configuration issues
4.4 Demonstrate ability to write code using Drupal Coding Standards Unit 41. Drupal development best practices
4.5 Demonstrate ability to analyze and resolve site performance issues arising from site configuration and custom code Unit 41. Drupal development best practices
Unit 42. Tools for developers
Unit 43. Drupal Architecture
High Performance Drupal, Chapter 1, “Drupal Coding for Optimal Performance” By Jeff Sheltren, Narayan Newton, and Nathaniel Catchpole
Writing efficient code
Drupal-based site caching
Views caching
Optimizing Drupal views the right way way/
Caching to improve performance
Tips and links for optimizing mySQL
Tuning MySQL
Tuning php.ini
4.6 Demonstrate ability to analyze and resolve security issues arising from site configuration and custom code Writing secure code
Handling user input
Preventing cross-site request forgery (CSRF) on your forms
Writing secure queries in Drupal
Handling text in a secure format

My score

And finally, my score ;)

Score: 86%
Result: Pass

TopicPercentage Correct
Section 1 - Fundamental Web Development Concepts75%
Section 2 - Site Building81%
Section 3 - Front end development (Theming)100%
Section 4 - Back end development (Coding)86%

So I had 52 correct questions (of 60) which is not bad, eh! ;). I am also proud to be the first in Spain to be certified, but certainly from now more people will be encouraged.

It's a shame you can not see the questions where you failed.

About previous preparation, I didn't have to spend more than 4 hours, but you must spend the time you need to take the exam with confidence. I reviewed the Expert in Drupal 7 Advanced book and some other links to external documentation.

When you get the certificate you receive a cool badge (as above) and the certificate in PDF, so you can presume at work. The results are shown in the Acquia Certification Registry. The list is updated every two weeks, so you will not appear in the list immediately, be patient!

Differences between Acquia Certification and Expert in Drupal Certification with Forcontu

Acquia certifies your knowledge via examination, so you have to prepare the exam on your own. As what is valid is the knowledge of the core (Views is the only contributed module included), almost all references are to the API and other documentation contained in

El The Certificate of Expert in Drupal 7 with Forcontu goes a step further, covering not only the core functionality and modules but also a lot of contributed modules as Rules, Panels, Context and so on. Moreover, it is not only a multiple-choice test, but a full course with 420 certified hours with continuous assessment, practical tests and final project. At the end the course you will be very prepared not only for the Acquia Certification Exam but also to develop real projects with Drupal.

Forcontu Drupal Training Plan includes all developer's profiles (Site Builder, Front End Developer y Back End Developer) . Even if you decide to specialize, you will have a complete overview of all that can be done with Drupal.

And I think I do not forget anything. If you have any questions please contact us. You can also leave a comment in this post.


Fran Gil

Co-founder, CEO, Drupal Trainer & Consultant at Forcontu.

More than 15 years of experience in Web Development, specializing in Drupal since 2006 (Drupal 4.7). In addition to his duties as CEO at Forcontu, Fran Gil is author of the books and Drupal Training Plans, providing tutoring in online and onsite courses. He also provides consultancy and support for Drupal projects.

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