How useful ISTQB is in India

ISTQB useful information and exam tips

In the following you will find useful information about ISTQB and the exams, Certifications and Training in this regard, in particular for ISTQB Foundation Level CTFL.

Motivation for ISTQB

In order for a software company to be able to deliver consistently high software quality, you not only need an established test process, but also qualified and motivated employees who live this process. An insufficient number of software tests carried out by testers who may lack know-how and experience not only increases the chance of delivering poor quality software, but in many cases also leads to deadlines and budget overruns.

With its modular curricula, the ISTQB has been offering a globally recognized opportunity for 15 years (since 2002) to train software testers, but also employees who work in related disciplines, in this area in a standardized manner.

The ISTQB - International Software Testing Qualifications Board

As early as the late 1990s, efforts were made to introduce standardization in the field of software testing for the first time. For this purpose the English ISEB (Information Systems Examinations Board) published the syllabus for "Certified Tester“And thus offered certification for software testers for the first time.

Four years later, in November 2002, the merger of Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Finland and the United Kingdom resulted in the establishment of the ISTQB (International Software Testing Qualifications Board). This international umbrella organization has set itself the task of creating a globally recognized standard in the field of software testing.

ISTQB organization and overview

The ISTQB is organized in various international working groups. In these committees, experts from science and business work on a voluntary basis on the curricula of the individual modules and then translate them into the language of their country.

The basic module is the ISTQB Foundation Level Certification (CTFL) with its optional extensions in the area of ​​agile testing (Agile Extension) and model-based testing (Model Based Testing). After completing the basic training, those interested can undertake further specializations at the Advanced Level and later also at the Expert Level.

For each module, a certification exam is offered that can be completed by anyone, regardless of whether or not a training course has been taken beforehand. Thus, the ISTQB certifications can also be obtained in self-study (tips follow). All curricula and the associated glossary of the ISTQB are publicly available free of charge on the Internet for anyone without registration and registration.

The certification itself is carried out by the national member boards. Companies that offer training on the individual modules do not know which questions are being examined before the exams. This procedure ensures the highest possible independence of the certification.

The German Testing Board (GTB)

Over the past few years, more than 50 member boards have been set up around the world that are subordinate to the ISTQB and incorporate their specialist knowledge and expertise into the development of new curricula. The national testing boards also play an important role in establishing standards in their respective countries, and the members of the boards are the central and well-known contact point for everything to do with software testing.

In Germany, this task is taken over by the German Testing Board (GTB), which shares the German-speaking area with the Austrian Testing Board and the Swiss Testing Board and therefore works very closely with them.

On the website of the German Testing Board, for example, you can find recommended specialist literature and specialist articles as well as a list of accredited training providers, dates for public exams and an overview of the different modules of the ISTQB.

In addition to translating the curricula and exam questions, the members of the national boards also organize events and keynote speeches on the subject of software testing and cooperate with local universities and other educational institutions.

Advantages of a certification according to ISTQB

The advantages of certification according to ISTQB are wide-ranging. The certificates are a globally recognized standard for the training and further education of software testers, which is just as well known and accepted in Great Britain as it is in the USA or India.

The modular structure of the curriculum enables software testers to specialize in a certain sub-area of ​​software testing, such as test management or test automation.

The exams are not only of interest to software testers, but can also be beneficial for everyone who works in the IT sector. The uniform training creates a common language, which improves communication and work in software teams.

Another advantage is the independence of the auditors. Certifications are never carried out by the company that holds the training. Finally, after successfully passing the exam, the test participants receive a certificate that can bring them professional advantages.

Criticism of the ISTQB certification

With all the light and positive things you can get from the ISTQB system, there are of course also shadows and dissenting voices.

The certifications offered by the ISTQB have been criticized several times. This criticism mainly concerns the foundation level. It is criticized that it is unrealistic to be able to prove within a 3-day seminar and with the help of 40 multiple-choice questions that all participants have a sound knowledge in the field of software testing and are thus able to work independently and are qualified in to work in this area.

We also support this thesis in part, although on the other hand it would be very difficult and time-consuming (and then also expensive) to include work samples and oral exams. So the current path is probably not bad at all because of the trade-off between "meaningfulness of the certificate" and "effort". However, in the end, one must not forget that reaching Foundation Level is not really difficult and really software testing and knowledge of the area does not necessarily have to be possible.

The same applies to the advanced levels, even if they are more difficult to achieve. Here, too, there are compact courses that do not even last 5 days. And here, too, the certifications are easy to pass in self-study. But here you at least have to bring a little more real know-how with you in order to survive not only through luck. Since you can repeat an exam more than once, everyone who is willing will in principle at some point be able to boast one or more ISTQB Advanced Level certificates. Nevertheless, we generally see something positive in an acquired certificate, because this at least shows that the person has dealt with the theory (or was very lucky). 🙂

Furthermore, this criticism is less widespread in the advanced levels, as participants in the advanced levels not only have to show the certification of the foundation level, but also proof of at least 18 months of practice in the field of software testing.

Another point of criticism that the ISTQB could confront is the fact that its certificates, with the exception of certificates from the Expert Level, do not expire. A certificate once acquired is valid for a lifetime. However, since the course content is constantly being adapted and the exams have changed over time, it can no longer be assumed that the qualification of an exam participant from 2005 is the same as the qualification of a candidate who received the certification a few months ago has completed. In other words, to prevent this, at least something like a necessary (free) re-certification every 8-10 years could be considered.

The ISTQB Certified Tester Program

The certificates and curricula offered by the ISTQB are divided into three different levels that build on one another:

  • Foundation level
  • Advanced level
  • Expert level

The Foundation Level

in the ISTQB Foundation Level above all, basic knowledge in the field of software testing is imparted, with three different modules currently available and five further modules being planned:

  • Certified Tester
  • Agile testers
  • Model-based tester
  • Gambling Industry Tester (planned)
  • Mobile application tester (planned)
  • Automotive Tester (in planning)
  • Usability Tester (in planning)
  • Performance Tester (in planning)

ISTQB Certified Tester
The curriculum of the ISTQB Certified Tester is the basic requirement for all further modules. The content of the course focuses primarily on teaching participants a structured and systematic approach to software testing. In addition to fundamental concepts, the most important terms are also defined. The module is rounded off by information about available tools and best practices.

Agile testers
The Agile Tester is an additional training course to the Foundation Level. He shows how software testers can bring themselves and their knowledge into agile projects. The course content also includes the basics of agile software development. The agile approaches are specifically discussed and the differences between agile approaches and standard procedure models are worked out.

Model-based tester
In this optional additional module, participants learn how to use models and modeling as a basis for creating and performing software tests. In addition to the theoretical basics of MBT, the focus is primarily on the creation of test models, the selection of suitable test cases and the correct use of the available tools.

The ISTQB Advanced Level

The Advanced Level offers a deepening of the teaching content from the Foundation Level and is divided into three different modules. Interested parties who would like to obtain these certificates not only have to have the ISTQB Certified Tester certificate, but also have 18 months of practical experience. The Advanced Level is currently structured as follows:

  • Test manager
  • Test analyst
  • Technical Test Analyst
    • AGILE Organizational (in planning)
    • AGILE Technical (in planning)
  • Security Tester
  • Test Automation Engineer (Our last status: Syllabus finished, but no training courses and exams available yet - mid-2017)

The modulesSecurity Tester or the Test automation engineer are currently under construction or in a kind of roll-out phase and they are not yet available in an official German version. It may also not be available in German.

Test manager
In addition to the tasks and areas of application of the test manager himself, the ISTQB Certified Test Manager also includes teaching content on the subject of the test process and error management. This module also includes the sub-areas of social skills and team composition as well as reviews and test automation. The Test Manager is generally considered to be the most difficult module of the Advanced Level, although this exam tends to have the highest failure rates.

Test analyst
The second module is the ISTQB Certified Test Analyst. This curriculum includes the activities of the test analyst and also provides an insight into specification-oriented test procedures and the black box test. Participants also get to know a selection of test techniques and can expand and deepen their knowledge in the areas of reviews and error management.

Technical Test Analyst
This module is more technical than the other two modules, with an emphasis on structure-oriented testing and analytical testing procedures. Test tools and test automation are also covered. Finally, quality features of technical tests and reviews are also part of this course.

The Expert Level

The Expert Level is aimed at experienced testers who want to specialize in a part of the software test. Completion of the three modules from the Advanced Level is a prerequisite for participation in the individual exams. The Expert Level comprises the following sub-areas:

  • Test management
  • Improving the test process

In contrast to certificates from the Foundation Level and the Advanced Level, the certificates acquired at the Expert Level are only valid for 5 years. The exams at Expert Level are also much more extensive and candidates have to answer three open questions in addition to the usual multiple-choice questions.

ISTQB exams

A certification exam can be taken for each module. The exams at Foundation Level and Advanced Level consist of a series of multiple-choice questions, the number of which differ depending on the level. In German-speaking countries, candidates whose mother tongue is not German have 25% more time available to answer questions. Participants also have the option of taking the test in English.

The exams at Foundation Level always consist of 40 exam questions for which the participant has 60 minutes. To pass the exam, 26 questions must be answered correctly. In contrast, exams in the Advanced Level consist of 45 to 65 questions with a processing time of 120 to 180 minutes.

Certification costs

The cost of an exam for certification differs not only from level to level, but also from country to country. In any case, the examination fee must be paid before the examination and will not be refunded even if the examination result is negative.
In Germany, for example, an exam from the Foundation Level currently costs 225.00 euros plus VAT. Students are offered a discounted examination fee of 137.50 euros plus VAT.
Participants who want to take an exam at the Advanced Level must first pay a one-time admission fee of 50.00 euros plus VAT. Only then can you register for exams from the Advanced Level. An individual examination from the Advanced Level currently costs EUR 200.00 plus VAT.

The ISTQB Foundation Level in detail

The contents of the foundation level syllabus form the basis for being able to work as a software tester. The contents of the module are aimed primarily at beginners, but are also suitable for those interested who do not work directly in the software test, but have to do with it in their daily work.
The contents of the certified tester are also profitable for project managers, software developers and IT managers in order to gain an insight into the field of software testing and to develop a common language in the team.

The curriculum of the CTFL

In addition to imparting basic knowledge, the ISTQB Certified Tester is primarily concerned with the fundamental test process. All examinees are advised to study this process carefully and internalize it. The entire curriculum is structured as follows:

  • Software testing basics
  • General testing process
  • Static analysis
  • Structural and functional test procedures
  • Testing in the software life cycle
  • Test management
  • Tool support

Due to the wide range of the curriculum, certain topics such as software life cycle models or test management can only be touched on briefly. In order not to focus too much on theoretical topics, however, the ISTQB has tried to include interesting marginal topics such as the psychology of testing in the syllabus in order to loosen up the content a little.

Exam details and tips

The Exam for certification to the ISTQB Certified Tester Foundation Level takes 60 minutes and includes 40 multiple-choice questions. To pass the exam, 65% of the questions must be answered correctly. How you want to prepare for the exam is individual, but inexperienced software testers in particular can benefit from ISTQB training.

Exam preparation in seminars or in self-study

There are a number of companies on the German market that ISTQB training courses Offer in different quality and at different prices. A list of accredited training providers can be found on the website of the German Testing Board, for example.
The main advantage of a seminar is that the course content is well prepared and presented to the participants using a set of slides. In addition, a sample test is usually carried out and the correct answers are discussed in detail afterwards.

Discussions in the group can fill gaps in knowledge and deepen the subject matter. If anything is unclear, the lecturer can be asked at any time, and the self-dynamism in the group means that motivation is often better maintained than in self-study. Furthermore, one often learns things beyond the ISTQB material, since in the group and by the lecturer, practical topics are usually introduced as examples.

Of course, seminars also have disadvantages.The prices for these events are relatively high and, especially at the CTFL, the exam is often carried out directly after the training. In many cases, the participants are tired from the 3 days of strenuous training and have little time to go through the content again in self-study.

Even if the ISTQB training courses or seminars have the greater advantages, the Advantages of the ISTQB self-study not to be kept secret. In the ISTQB self-study, specific material can be learned in which one thinks there are gaps. You can skim over things that you have already mastered well. In other words, you can organize your learning time yourself. In addition, you can learn in the ISTQB self-study after working hours and do not have to sacrifice any IT project time for the ISTQB study, which is particularly welcomed by the self-employed and small companies. In addition, you naturally save the costs for the ISTQB training.

The biggest disadvantage of self-study is that you cannot ask anyone directly, so you have to read a lot and close all knowledge gaps through diligent work.

Training costs

The costs for the seminars vary depending on the module, duration and venue. In-house training courses that are held by accredited lecturers in the company are usually offered more cheaply than seminars that take place directly at the training company or in rented seminar rooms.

In addition, early bird discounts are offered in many cases and companies that book a certain number of courses per year with an organizer can also expect better conditions.
Training courses for the CTFL usually last 3 days and on average you have to reckon with 1,300 euros plus VAT. However, the price usually includes not only the course materials and further literature, but also the catering during the event.

In contrast to this, a Test Manager seminar usually lasts 5 days, with an estimate of 2,100 euros plus VAT. The examination fees are not included in the seminar price and must be paid separately.

If you are looking for a provider for an ISTQB training course, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Exam preparation in self-study

In principle, it is not a problem to prepare for the exam on your own, provided you have sufficient previous knowledge or motivation. In addition to some official sample exams, the curricula and glossary are also available free of charge on the Internet.

For most of the modules there is also in-depth literature, so it is advisable to read the book "Basic knowledge of software testing“To read by Andreas Spillner and Tilo Linz. If you buy the book, you should make sure that you have the latest edition of the book, as the curriculum has been subject to changes in recent years.

Tips for exam preparation and tips for the ISTQB exam

  • To optimal exam preparation not only the syllabus of the respective module should be worked through, but also the official glossary of the ISTQB, as questions about certain subject-specific terms arise again and again in the exams.
  • Working through an official ISTQB sample test (available as a download from the GTB, among others) is of course strongly advisable in order to be able to better prepare for the test.
  • The official syllabus can also be found on the GTB website, with which you should of course learn very intensively in addition to the glossary.
  • Websites like offerno real I.STQB exam questions, this would also not be allowed, but offer very similar questions with which one can learn well. So this is also a good help, even without real ISTQB questions.
    • It should be noted at this point that it is forbidden to publish exam questions online or to pass them on to third parties. Before the start of the exam, each participant must sign a passage by which he / she undertakes to remain silent about the exam questions.
    • It also makes little sense to look for old exam questions and possibly even learn their answers by heart, as experience has shown that the questions are relatively old and the solutions given are not always correct. One should really try to understand the issues.
  • At the end of the exam, you should have ticked each question. So we recommend spending the last few minutes ticking the remaining tasks, if you still have some open. After all, there is a chance of 1 in 4 if you tick a box, compared to a chance of 0% if you didn't tick tasks at all.
  • Very important, please read the question and answers well and think carefully about "whether negations" appear in the sentence structure, or what exactly is being asked. The questions and answers are often a bit tricky and you have to be patient to read the question correctly!
  • Also very important for the exact question and answers, pay attention to essential terms such as "No way„, „always„, „can"," Must "in sentence structure or things like"which answer fits the least"Or"which solution fits best“In questions.
  • If you can't think of a direct solution while reading the answers, use the principle of exclusion and tick what is left at the end.
  • For every ISTQB exam there is literature (ISTQB textbooks) for learning, easy to find on the Internet, depending on the exam.

Failed the exam

If you fail the test, it can be an advantage to make an appointment (for a fee) for inspection. An inspection can help determine where your own weaknesses are and with a little luck, one or the other question will come up again at the next appointment.

The number of exam attempts is also not limited. You can take the exam several times, but you have to pay the exam fees again for each take.


Certification according to ISTQB is not only worthwhile for the participants themselves, but also for companies that promote these training and further education offers. Certification measures not only increase general motivation, but also help improve teamwork and establish standards in the company. And the participants themselves are motivated by looking at the exam to deal intensively with the topics.

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