5 Tips for Achieving ISTQB Foundation Level Certification

Are you new to the software testing world and have recently started your journey as a quality analyst, or do you want to break into this field and are looking forward to achieving the first milestone on this journey?

The first step forward is the foundation level certification, which is acquired by giving the foundation level or CTFL exam conducted by ISTQB. ISTQB is a world-renowned software testing board that offers multiple certifications in the field of software testing, like Test Analyst, Test Manager, and AI testing, among others. Still, for all the different levels of certification, it is required to have the foundation level.

Now that you understand the importance and impact of this certification on your career, here are my five tips that will help you prepare for the International Software Testing Qualification Board (ISTQB ) foundation-level certification.

1. Book reading is very important

People often think there is no need for reading for such exams, and they will mostly depend on the use cases they encounter in their daily work as quality analysts, but this is a myth. Although the name implies that this is a foundation-level exam, the scope of the syllabus is extensive, and only syllabus reading will not suffice for the CTFL exam. This is because of the recent changes made in 2018. Previously, the exam was conducted based on the 2011 syllabus, but the new 2018 syllabus has turned this exam into a very competitive one. We suggest you read the fourth edition of Foundations of Software Testing by Dorothy Graham, Rex Black, and Erik Van Veenendaal. This book covers the new syllabus and all the required topics.

2. Practice questions won’t help much in the exam

When it comes to online exams focusing on a particular professional domain, you probably heard friends or colleagues saying that the same available practice questions might come in the exam or those questions are almost in the same pattern as the questions provided in the exam. This is not true. The practice questions available online are very straightforward and taken from the ISTQB sample papers shared on the ISTQB website. They are centered around the 2011 pattern, while the new pattern is different. It is very complex, and the practice questions are very entry-level; thus will be of no use. To increase your chances of passing the exam, thoroughly study every topic mentioned in the syllabus.

3. Understand the correct structure of the exam

ISTQB foundation exam consists of MCQ 40 questions, and the passing mark is 65%, i.e., 26 questions need to be correct. The duration of the exam is 1 hour. Since the number of questions is only 40, you have to prepare for this exam well in advance. The questions in this exam come from a fixed structure. There are three categories, K1, K2, and K3, which are also mentioned in the syllabus. The syllabus which falls under the K1 category will have straightforward questions, so it is crucial to cover those entirely. In the K2 category, you have to understand the exact meaning and then answer, while the K3 category questions would require you to apply the knowledge gained from the topics. So it would be best not to leave any topics uncovered in the K1 and K2 categories since those questions will be based only on how well you memorized the terms and understood the correct meaning of any statement. 

4. Read the questions properly

You will only have 60 minutes to finish the exam. The questions might be lengthy, so many people make the mistake of reading the question improperly or assuming the meaning of the question based on a few keywords. Thus, make sure to read the questions properly, as a question asked could include one word that changes its entire meaning, and misreading it might cost you an attempt.

5. Register for the correct exam and apply through the proper channel 

The name of the ISTQB foundation level exam is CTFL (certified tester foundation level). You can attempt the exam online from your home or at testing centers. You can register for the exam via the official website. ISTQB has different websites for each region. For example, in the United States, the website is https://astqb.org/. Make sure to use the dedicated website for your region. Once you select the exam and make a payment, you will then receive an e-mail with an attached form. You can fill out the form and send it back to complete your registration process. You will receive another e-mail with the exact exam date, time, and link for the attempt 24 hours before your exam.