iSQI supports software testing professionals at all stages of their career with a full portfolio of ISTQB software testing certification exams.
We are delighted to offer this overview that we hope answers many of your questions on the certification scheme, qualifications, exams and training. We have included easy links to the syllabuses and mock exams.
Who is ISTQB?
The International Software Testing Qualifications Board has defined the “ISTQB Certified Tester” scheme that has become the world-wide leader in the certification of competences in software testing. With more than 920,000 exams taken and 673,000 certified testing professionals, ISTQB is the standard in software testing qualification. The scheme relies on a Body of Knowledge (in the ISTQB Syllabuses and ISTQB Glossary). ISTQB also offers an ISTQB Partner Program, they conduct regular Effectiveness Surveys and an annual International Software Testing Excellence Award.
Who is iSQI?
The International Software Quality Institute is a leading exam provider of ISTQB certification exams – fully approved and authorised for over 15 years. We offer a full portfolio of ISTQB exams, including online via remote proctor, after ISTQB training with accredited training providers, at public exam sessions and at Pearson VUE test centers. iSQI is an active contributor to ISTQB, including at the General Assembly and in multiple Working Groups. iSQI is a preferred partner to many ISTQB Local Member Boards around the world.
Where are ISTQB exams available with iSQI?
iSQI offers a full portfolio of ISTQB exams around the world and in multiple languages (English, German, Spanish, French, Dutch, Russian).
Our headquarters and International Service Center is located in Potsdam, Germany and through our local offices and distribution channels we can provide services worldwide. Our Pearson VUE partnership means our ISTQB exams are also available at over 5,200 testing centers globally. Online ISTQB remote proctored exams are available from iSQI in all countries. In addition, we offer ISTQB public exams in selected countries. We work with accredited ISTQB training providers all around the world to offer paper and on-line exams proctored by fully trained invigilators.
What ISTQB certification exams are available from iSQI?
The iSQI portfolio of ISTQB exams covers all ISTQB certification levels – ISTQB Foundation, ISTQB Advanced and ISTQB Expert Levels across the ISTQB Core, ISTQB Agile and ISTQB Specialist streams.
ISTQB Foundation Levels
- Certified Tester Foundation Level (CTFL)
- Certified Tester Foundation Level- Agile Tester (CTFL-AT)
- Certified Tester Foundation Level- Model Based Tester (CTFL-MBT)
- Certified Tester Foundation Level – Performance Testing (CTFL-PT)
- Certified Tester Foundation Level – Automotive Tester (CTFL-AuT)
- Certified Tester Foundation Level – Usability Testing (CTFL-UT)
- Certified Tester Foundation Level – Mobile Application Testing (CTFL-MAT)
- Certified Tester Foundation Level – Acceptance Testing (CTFL-AcT)
- Certified Tester Foundation Level – Gambling Industry Tester (CTFL-GT) – to be confirmed!
ISTQB Advanced Levels
- Certified Tester Advanced Level – Agile Technical Tester (CTAL-ATT)
- Certified Tester Advanced Level – Test Manager (CTAL-TM)
- Certified Tester Advanced Level – Test Analyst (CTAL-TA)
- Certified Tester Advanced Level – Technical Test Analyst (CTAL-TTA)
- Certified Tester Advanced Level – Security Tester (CTAL-SEC)
- Certified Tester Advanced Level – Test Automation Engineer (CTAL-TAE)
ISTQB Expert Levels
- Certified Tester Expert Level – Test Management (CTEL-TM)
- Certified Tester Expert Level – Improving the Testing Process (CTEL-ITP)
Do I have to take a Training Course in order to take an ISTQB exam?
No, see below for options on how to get ISTQB Certified. Many people find training courses very helpful – meeting other people during training can be useful and motivating. Training can offer a faster track to learning as accredited ISTQB training providers will give full syllabus coverage during the course and prepare you for the exam. This can be most helpful at the higher ISTQB levels.
How do I get ISTQB certified?
STEP 1 – Training or self study
- Take an ISTQB accredited training course
You can take an ISTQB course with one of our accredited training provider partners – we work with over 380 training providers around the world. Training providers may offer accredited ISTQB classroom based courses, ISTQB on-line courses or ISTQB e-learning.
- Use ISTQB self study materials – the ISTQB syllabus, mock exams and ISTQB glossary
You can choose to self study and take the exam when it suits you. We have all ISTQB syllabus available to download as PDF on our website. The glossary can be found here. See later for more information on the ISTQB mock exams and also about the ISTQB syllabus K Levels, Business Outcomes and Learning Objectives.
STEP 2 – Pass your ISTQB exam with iSQI!
- Take an ISTQB exam after an accredited training course
Your training provider will arrange for your exam either on site after training with an iSQI invigilator, offer you a Pearson VUE voucher so that you can take your exam at a test center near you, or a FLEX (remote proctor) exam to take online. Talk to your training provider.
- Take an ISTQB exam after self study
Where do I start in the ISTQB Certified Tester Scheme?
Your starting point is to take the ISTQB® Certified Tester Foundation Level and get ISTQB CTFL certified – you can then progress onto other ISTQB Foundation Level and ISTQB Advanced Level certifications. Holders of the ISTQB Foundation Level should be able to demonstrate the following Business Outcomes:
- Promote efficient and effective communication by using a common vocabulary for software testing.
- Understand fundamental concepts of software testing.
- Demonstrate understanding of how different development and testing practices, and different constraints on testing, may apply in optimizing testing to different contexts.
- Contribute effectively in reviews.
- Use established techniques for designing tests at all test levels.
- Interpret and execute tests from given test specifications. Report on test results.
- Understand test management principles for resources, strategies, planning, project control and risk management
- Write and communicate clear and understandable defect reports
- Understand the project factors that drive the test priorities and test approach
- Understand the value that software testing brings to stakeholders
- Appreciate how testing activities and work products align with project objectives, measures and targets
- Assist in the selection and implementation process of testing tool
How do I buy an ISTQB exam at www.isqi.org?
All you need to do is visit www.isqi.org and create an account.
- Select your country with the drop down arrow (top left of the page).
- Select the ISTQB exam you would like to take from our Software Testing portfolio
- Select the language and exam method of choice with the drop down arrows on the page of your chosen ISTQB certification exam.
- Add the exam to your cart and proceed to payment!
What is the ISTQB exam cost?
The exam cost will depend on the ISTQB Certification Exam you want to buy. If you visit our shop at www.isqi.org – select your country, your currency, your exam and the exam type (paper, test center, remote proctored) to find your cost.
What are the ISTQB exam options with iSQI?
FLEX (Remote Proctored Exams)
- Our flexible solution for taking ISTQB exams from home or another location of your choice at a date and time that suits you. The exam is supervised online, with a remote proctor (invigilator) through the webcam and microphone of your computer. You can find more information on ISTQB FLEX exams here.
- All Foundation and Advanced Level ISTQB certification exams can be taken from home, online with a remote invigilator!
- Over 5,200 Pearson Vue test centers in over 175 countries. You can choose your preferred location in your country and a date and time to suit you.
- All Foundation and Advanced Level ISTQB certification exams can be taken at Pearson Test Centers!
Exams on-site directly after accredited training or on a specified exam date, supervised by a trained iSQI invigilator.
On-line exam on-site after accredited training or on a specified exam date, supervised by a trained iSQI invigilator.
All Foundation and Advanced Level ISTQB certification exams can be taken as paper or SMEX! Expert Level – paper only!
What languages are the ISTQB exams available in?
iSQI offers exams in English, German, Spanish, French, Dutch and Russian depending on the exam. Please check on the page for the certification you are interested in at www.isqi.org.
How do I register for my ISTQB exam?
Depending on how you choose to take your exam, iSQI will guide you through the registration process. Our aim is to make this as easy as possible. Importantly you must register with the name you want used on your ISTQB certificate. You should also ensure that you have the necessary prerequisites.
What are the ISTQB prerequisites for exams?
The ISTQB Certified Tester Foundation Level, ISTQB CTFL certification is a prerequisite for ALL other ISTQB Certified Tester scheme exams. This applies across all ISTQB Levels including all other Foundation Level exams and streams, ISTQB Agile, ISTQB Core and ISTQB Specialist.
To be eligible to take any ISTQB Certified Tester Advanced Level certification exam, the candidate must hold the ISTQB Certified Tester Foundation Level (CTFL) certification. Note in some countries local Member Boards also specify a level of practical experience – contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more specific information.
For Expert Level Test Management (there are x3 exams – Strategic Test Manager, Operational Test Manager & Managing the Test Team), you must hold the ISTQB Certified Tester Advanced Level – Test Manager (CTAL-TM) certification and have practical experience.
The same applies for Expert Level Improving the Testing Process (x2 exams – Assessing Test Processes, Implementing Test Process Improvement).
Can I retake an ISTQB exam if I fail?
Yes, you can. Contact your accredited training provider if you took a training course and they should be able to guide you or you can purchase a retake from the iSQI shop. The retake exams are usually the same price. You could consider iSQI 2TRY when you make your initial shop purchase.
How do I reschedule or cancel an ISTQB exam with iSQI?
What self study material would iSQI recommend for the ISTQB Certified Tester Scheme and what can you suggest to help me with my ISTQB exam preparation?
The starting point is always the ISTQB syllabus. All ISTQB syllabuses include recommended reading material (usually listed at the end) and these publications can be useful additional resources. We cannot stress enough that a strong understanding of the syllabus is essential and we would suggest that you review the syllabus in depth – also try to understand K Levels (see later in this blog) as it will help your preparation.
You can download the ISTQB syllabuses for all ISTQB certification exams here.
We also suggest that you read the specific exam rules for the certification exam you are taking (see below in the information regarding the Exam Format).
Mock exams are a very useful resource to test your knowledge, as an example, there are 3 mock exams for ISTQB CTFL and all are available on our website. Focus on understanding where you get questions wrong in the ISTQB mock exam and refer back to the specific learning objectives in the ISTQB syllabus.
You can download the official ISTQB sample exams and ISTQB answer keys for all ISTQB certification exams here.
We would also recommend you use the ISTQB Glossary as a resource.
The ISTQB Glossary consists of terms used in software testing and provides consistent definitions of software testing and quality-related terms used in the ISTQB qualification scheme.
What is the ISTQB exam format?
Foundation Level exams are comprised of 40 multiple choice questions (MCQ). Each question is worth 1 mark.
Advanced Level exams are comprised of 40 – 65 multiple choice questions, depending on the exam. Note: the marks per question may vary – the point value could be 1,2 or 3 points. All iSQI ISTQB Foundation and Advanced exams will indicate the point value per question in your exam.
In the Advanced Level exams there is also typically a scenario on which the questions are based. Watch out for later blogs that will cover scenario based questions!
Expert Level exams are comprised of 40 multiple choice questions and an essay question.
Each exam consists of questions that are based on the Learning Objectives for the respective ISTQB syllabus (this is important – always keep in mind only what the syllabus sets out when answering exam questions!). For each syllabus there are exam rules that define the level of coverage and distribution of questions in the exam based on these Learning Objectives, their K-levels, and their level of importance as evaluated by the ISTQB.
Here is a link to the Exam Rules for ISTQB CTFL 2018 syllabus: https://www.istqb.org/component/jdownloads/send/2-foundation-level-documents/290-ctfl-2018-exam-structure-and-rules.html
You can find the learning objectives and K Levels in each of the ISTQB syllabuses.
There are different types of multiple-choice questions.
Type A – these include the question (the stem), a correct answer and 3 distractors – here is an example (this is from the CTFL 2018 Sample Exam A v1.5)
Which one of the following answers describes a test condition?
a) A distinguishing characteristic of a component or system
b) A testable aspect of a component or system identified as a basis for testing
c) The degree to which a software product provides functions which meet stated and implied needs when the software is used under specified conditions
d) Test cases designed to execute combinations of conditions and actions resulting from them
Select ONE option.
In the above – B is the correct Answer. A, C and D are the distractors.
We will share more on exam question types in a future blog!
Exam tip – when looking at multiple choice answer options start by eliminating those you know are definitely wrong as quickly as possible and focus then on which of your remaining options – again we would reiterate that the questions are based only on the syllabus Learning Objectives. As an aside – there are no trick questions in the exams!
What is the ISTQB pass mark?
All ISTQB Foundation, Advanced and Expert Level exams pass mark grade is 65%.
This means for an ISTQB Foundation Level or Advanced Level exam with 40 questions you need to score 26 points (have 26 correct answers) or more to pass.
- For an Advanced Level exam with 60 questions you would need to score 39 points.
- For an Advanced Level exam with 65 questions you would need to score 42.25 points.
How long are ISTQB exams?
Most ISTQB Foundation Level exams are 60 minutes with the exception of Foundation Level Performance Testing which is a 90 minute exam.
ISTQB Advanced Level exams are either 90 minutes, 120 minutes or 180 minutes (depending on the exam).
ISTQB Expert Level exams are 135 minutes.
If you take any ISTQB exam in a language that is not your native language, you will be given extra time as displayed in the below table.
Does everybody take the exact same exam?
Not necessarily but you can be assured that we work hard to ensure consistency across exams in terms of comparable level of difficulty.
Can I see an ISTQB® Roadmap showing all of the certifications?
A summary of ISTQB Core, Agile and Specialist Certification Exams is shown below.
Note that ISTQB Certified Tester Foundation Level is the starting point and prerequisite for all other Foundation and Advanced level exams in the Core, Agile and Specialist stream.
ISTQB Agile Foundation is a prerequisite for the ISTQB Agile Advanced Levels.
What is the structure of an ISTQB Syllabus?
Each syllabus was developed by an ISTQB working group according to the general guidelines on syllabus development. The syllabuses are developed in English and then localised into other other languages.
A syllabus will typically include:
Business Objectives: these attest to what an individual holding the exam should be able to do
Learning Objectives: statements which describe what the candidate is expected to know or be able to do after mastering the syllabus content. Learning Objectives are defined for each syllabus section. Each Learning Objective shall reference one K-Level. The Learning Objectives support the Business Outcomes.
K-levels: Each Learning Objective (and question) is classified according to the cognitive level, the K-Level (also known as level of knowledge).
ISTQB Foundation Level exams cover 3 different K-levels (K1 to K3):
K1 (Remember): The candidate should remember or recognize a term or a concept.
K2 (Understand): The candidate should select an explanation for a statement related to the question topic.
K3 (Apply): The candidate should select the correct application of a concept or technique and apply it in a given context.
ISTQB Advanced Level exams cover 3 different K-Levels (K2 to K4).
ISTQB Expert Level exams cover 5 different K-Levels (K2 to K6). K5 and K6 only appear in Expert level exams:
K5 (Evaluate): The candidate may make judgments based on criteria and standards. She/he detects inconsistencies or fallacies within a process or product, determines whether a process or product has internal consistency and detects the effectiveness of a procedure as it is being implemented.
K6 (Create): The candidate puts elements together to form a coherent or functional whole. Typical application is to reorganize elements into a new pattern or structure, devise a procedure for accomplishing some task or invent a product.
How do I get listed on the ISTQB Successful Candidate Register?
If you have passed your ISTQB certification exam, iSQI will contact you to get your permission for your information to be included on the ISTQB Successful Candidate Register. This is the official ISTQB register globally.
The ISTQB Successful Candidate Register recognises the achievement of candidates who have passed an ISTQB certification exam.
You will be able to search for information about yourself, such as:
- Your Name
- Certification Date
- Certificate Number
- Your Certificate Level
- Certification body
- Country of issue
- Expiry date (if applicable).
The Successful Candidate Register also provides a place of validation for employers or recruiters. They will be able to check the validity of a certification by inputting the certificate number and matching it to the information provided by the certificate holder to make sure it is authentic.
I heard that the ISTQB Remote Proctor exams are available as a trial – will they be offered permanently?
Initially, ISTQB remote proctored exams will be available as part of the ISTQB 6 month pilot programme until the ISTQB General Meeting in October 2020. Stay in touch with iSQI through all our social media channels and newsletter for updates!
Should I use ISTQB “Exam Dumps” available online?
We recommend that you avoid these completely and do not waste your time! We have outlined the official and most effective study options above. Please note, we closely monitor exam activity and we will ensure that anyone who has achieved a fraudulent certificate will have this withdrawn and be reported to ISTQB.
Can I get a Digital Badge for ISTQB certificates from iSQI?
Yes! A digital badge is an online standard for recognizing and verifying achievement of certification; you can apply for a badge if you have an ISTQB certificate awarded by iSQI (read more here).
Our badges are secured by Blockchain which cryptographically seals a record of the credential when it’s created so that anyone seeking verification of your certificate can be absolutely certain that a record hasn’t been altered since being issued by iSQI. You can add an ISTQB digital badge when you buy an ISTQB exam in the iSQI shop or you can apply for a badge if you are already a certificate holder (also via the shop).
Why should I take an ISTQB certification with iSQI?
Benefits for Testing Professionals
- iSQI supports professionals at all stages of their careers with a broad range of internationally recognized ISTQB certifications providing whole career path support, from Foundation to Expert level.
- iSQI is accredited with international standards ISO 17024 assuring candidates of the highest quality and security. An iSQI certificate is recognized globally for its validity in ISTQB certification.You can also request an iSQI Digital Badge.
- With ISTQB foundation, advanced, expert and specialist certifications, iSQI helps professionals maximise their career goals and maintain international recognition of acquired competencies and skills
- Holders of an ISTQB certificate from iSQI are authorized to use the “Certified Tester” logo (specifying the level of certification)
- We provide maximum flexibility with our exam delivery options with the choice of test center (Pearson VUE), public or FLEX (remote proctored) exams. Registration is quick and easy and results are available timeously.
- iSQI examinations are supported by a global network of accredited training providers whose expertise in education assists professionals in enhancing their knowledge and skills.
Benefits for Organizations
- iSQI offers group ISTQB exams at your preferred location, after self-study or in house training.
- Exams can be taken on paper or online (SMEX) with a fully trained iSQI invigilator on site.
- We can also offer you Pearson VUE testing vouchers and FLEX remote proctored exams as bulk orders for your team.
- If your company plans to take exams on a regular basis we can offer a partner contract with potential preferred pricing and an account manager to support you.
- ISTQB certification can provide a competitive advantage for companies, promising a higher level of reliability of the applications being developed due to efficient and cost effective testing practices derived from the ISTQB competencies.
- Consulting companies with certified staff can offer higher-level services to customers, increasing revenues and brand value.
- ISTQB has defined a “Partner Program” for companies that engage a large number of certified testers. Contact iSQI for more information.
Benefits for Training Providers
- iSQI is the preferred partner of training providers, universities and educational institutions around the world.
- Collaboration with iSQI offers both individuals and organisations reassurance of the highest standards in assessment, with globally recognized certifications and flexible exam options.
- Paper, on-line (SMEX), Test center (Pearson VUE), public or FLEX (remote proctored) exams are available
- We have an uncomplicated ordering system, easy registration, efficient fulfilment and quick results.
- iSQI invigilators are fully trained to ensure that your candidates are in capable hands.
- Training providers can offer their courses in our Marketplace on www.isqi.org, guaranteeing global visibility and multiple booking options for their customers.
- Accredited Training Providers will also be listed on the ISTQB website
- Our account managers will provide support to assist the launch of your iSQI certification training. We are always available to help with ISTQB training materials or guide you towards ISTQB accreditation.