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Developers pass exams in different subjects and different levels. But for QAs I found just one type of certification – ISTQB.

There are 3 levels: foundation, advanced and expert. At the end you can be an expert in Test Management, Improving the test process, Test Automation, Security Testing. More information you can find on the official site. I will share all usefull links at the article. Based on my preparation for Foundation level ISTQB, I can select few key tips that, in my opinion, led me to successful exam passing.

  1. First of all I made a decision “I want to pass this exam”. The reasons were: to improve theoretical knowledge about testing; it is my personal challenge; it is cool to be certified.
  2. I found a company and got support from my management. I even inspired two QAs from our company to start preparation. The process was the following: We had a meeting two times per week where we discussed a chapter from books, resolved mock tests and cleared up the ambiguities. For each meeting, one of us was a moderator. Also, this collective preparation was one of the motivators – it was unpleasant to admit that you are not ready for a meeting.
  3. We selected two free resources: Syllabus from ISTQB site, and “Foundation of software testing”. I read at least one page of the book and passed mock tests on my Android per day. Sometimes I made a break for a few days. Also, I found one paid video course on MindMajix site. It was very useful for structuring all knowledge at the end of the preparation.
  4. When I finished reading these two books (syllabus for 2 times), and had a rest for a week or two, I decided to pass exam at the end of the current month. I chose a day, paid for exam on site, and scheduled preparation for each day before exam. I had a plan to spend 2-3 days for each chapter and around a week for reviewing all course. But as it usually happens, only 1 or 2 days were left for reviewing.

During the whole preparation I invented some encouragements and punishment for myself. It was something like “I can read a new chapter of my favorite book after one chapter of Foundation”, or if I switched from preparation to some more pleasant activities, I stopped myself with words “You can fail exam just because you are so lazy, or because you spent time on a very stupid movie – it will be a huge shame”. The strongest motivation is to pay for exam. There is no way out afterwards. It really worked for me.

When I read some parts of chapter that weren’t clear even after reading for the fifth time, I asked for help from the people around. Together we always found answers for all my questions.

About Exam. I paid for exam about three weeks before, by using Prometric service (find the link at the end of the article). On the day of exam I came to the Certification  Centre, filled out the some paper documentation and headed to the exam room. Computer was already switched on, exam program was opened, and on the table I found a plastic (at least it felt like one) sheet of paper and a pen (specially for ISTQB). There were 40 questions, 4 variants of answers, only 1 was correct. I had 1 hour at my disposal. If you are not sure about some answer, you can mark question and then go back to it. I did so for a few questions.

About questions. There were no questions that I came across in mock tests. There were some questions (maybe 3), which triggered only one thought: “WHAT? WHAT DO YOU MEAN?”. So some questions were randomly answered. It took me about 45 minutes to pass the exam. I saw the result right away. I was given some paper with Prometric stamp. It said that I had passed exam. And the very certificate arrived three weeks after exam by post.

So I spent for preparation 5 months including breaks. I read Foundation and Syllabus twice. I watched online courses before passing exam. I passed hundreds of mock exams. There are a lot of them in the Internet. Also I’ve installed Test Competence application for my Android – really useful one.

And my ambitious plan is the next level or ISTQB.

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