Hello everyone My name is Andrey Kirepko, I am a tester of IT Test company. We are engaged in testing and developing projects on outsource and outstaff. During my time at the company, I participated in testing web and mobile applications for Eldorado, Sber, AlfaStrakhovanie and other large companies.
In 2021, I received the ISTQB (International Software Testing Qualifications Board) certificate— an international system for the qualification of software testers that unifies standards and approaches to testing. The presence of ISTQB increases the value of a specialist, because the certificate is recognized in most countries of the world, is highly appreciated by customers and employers — especially foreign ones.
During the preparation and passing of exams, I faced a lot of problems – starting from the search for educational materials and ending with the specifics of the testing format itself. To make life a little easier for those who are going to receive an ISTQB certificate, I share my experience and life hacks.
An important role in the preparation is played by the availability of up-to-date educational material. There is much more literature in English than in Russian — therefore, it will be easier for those who have everything in order with foreign languages. For example, in syllabus, a training program for those who are preparing for testing, the meanings of many terms are given much more precisely in English. By the way, the ISTQB certificate exam itself can be taken in different languages:
I recommend studying educational materials and taking the exam in English. This will give three advantages:
- the opportunity to improve English – knowledge of terminology will help in the future when communicating with foreign customers and colleagues;
- if you take the exam in a foreign language, you get 15 extra minutes;
- it will be much easier to find materials in English, and in addition there are mobile applications and websites with tests.
For people who want to take it in Russian, there is such a resource: https://istqb-training.ru/. There you can practice and test your knowledge before the official exam. The database of questions is irrelevant — made according to the previous syllabus from 2011 — but it will still help you understand what you will have to face on the exam. Basic things have not changed in 7 years, but some terms are now interpreted differently.
At the time of writing, I found only one free course in Russian, but it is quite fresh and relevant.
In fact, I was wildly lucky — our company bought a video course with tests in Russian and this simplified the study of the material. He also helped me realize that preparing for ISTQB is no longer about cramming, but about understanding syllabus. Therefore, I highlighted the points in the syllabus that were less clear to me, and in the last weeks before the exam I studied mainly these questions.
To better prepare for the exam — use a few tips that I have identified empirically:
- For better memorization of the material, transfer some points to your work experience. For example, in paragraph 1.1.1 of the syllabus it is written that one of the purposes of testing is to “prevent defects”. Think about whether there was such a thing in your practice, in what form? Perhaps you will remember a funny — or not so funny — case from life. Thus, the dry theory in your head will become overgrown with the “meat” of real experience, and at the right moment it will be easier to extract the necessary information from memory and apply it.
- When studying syllabus, highlight all the points that seem important. This way you will not only remember more information, but also be able to find the right question faster to repeat it before the exam itself. For example, I reread the section “Control and monitoring” several times because I felt a lack of knowledge in this area.
- When you train on the exam simulator, analyze not only the mistakes, but also the correct answers. The tests have such a feature: you can randomly choose the correct value, but in the exam you will answer in a completely different way out of excitement. The analysis of the selected answers will help to remember the right and wrong options, and in addition to get the main thing – the very understanding of the training program.
What you need for an online exam for obtaining an ISTQB certificate
I will tell you what you need to do to pass the online testing for the ISTQB certificate. I registered for the exam using this form, a month before the test date I expected. You can choose any time and date, but at least 4 days before the exam.
To pass online testing, you need a computer with a webcam on which Google Chrome is installed, a tablet or smartphone and a stable Internet connection.
The website states that after payment, a letter will be sent for technical verification — whether my equipment is suitable for passing the exam. Due to inattention, I did not see that the letter should arrive a week before testing, I began to panic and even wrote a letter in broken English to support. The answer came the same day, albeit with a slight delay: they say there is no reason to worry, the letter will arrive a week before the exam. If it doesn’t come, write to us again.
You need to perform the check two days before the exam. Here’s what’s being checked:
- webka — a face is being filmed on it during the exam – so that you don’t peek into the cheat sheets;
- microphone – for recording ambient sounds – so that no one tells you;
- speakers — a standard check is carried out here to see if I can hear the sound from the speakers;
- the camera of the phone – the general plan of the room is shot on it during testing to fix that there is no one in the room except me.
On Chrome, you need to install a plugin to capture the screen. All requirements will be indicated in the letter.
After checking the equipment, an email arrives with a link to the exam. You can start testing within 45 minutes after the start — that is, if the exam is scheduled for 12-00, you can start in the interval from 12-00 to 12-45. The test is unavailable until the specified time. You can read more about the process of taking the online exam in this article.
What rules should be followed during testing
There are some pretty strict rules that must be followed to pass the exam successfully:
- During testing, there should be no one in the room except you.
- There should be nothing on the table except the keyboard and mouse.
- There should be no headphones — to prove this, at the beginning of the exam, you will even have to show your ears to the examiners using your phone camera.
- You can use an office whiteboard for taking notes – the main thing is that it gets into the frame and nothing is written on it before the exam begins.
- You can’t talk during the exam. It seemed to me the most difficult, because I constantly wanted to read the questions out loud.
I took the exam online, but if there is a certification center in your city, you can take the test in person. The online exam has a plus: you can choose any convenient time. You are given 1 hour to complete the test, or 1 hour 15 minutes if you do not take the test in your native language. If you need to write out some thoughts, you can use a whiteboard or, in the case of an online format, a notepad embedded in the page.
What will happen on the exam:
- there are 40 questions in total, for each of the six syllabus topics;
- you can get a maximum of 100 points;
- the minimum passing score is 65, that is, you need to answer at least 26 questions correctly.
After answering all 40 questions, you will see on the screen whether you have passed the exam or not. However, this is only a preliminary result. The final one will come within a week — after the video of your exam is checked for cheating.
What is the use of an ISTQB certificate
The certificate will not become your subscription for interviews. And after receiving it, you will not lining up Google, Yandex, banks and insurance companies to call to his work. But the certificate is somewhat similar to additional options in the car, such as air conditioning. Someone needs a car with a condom, someone will take it without it, but cheaper, and someone just loves bicycles.
Yes, you know most things without ISTQB, but your employers also know these things. Therefore, by understanding the smaller details and referring to your certificate — that is, not everyone has it — you can speak more confidently and get a more profitable offer for employment.