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Software Testing Certification – What You Need to Know to Pass the ISTQB Foundation Level Exam

Software Testing Certification – What You Need to Know to Pass the ISTQB Foundation Level Exam

Are you considering taking the ISTQB foundation level software testing certification exam but would like to know more about what topics it covers? This article provides a summary of what knowledge is required to satisfy the requirements of the foundation level certification.

The certification exam is based on a syllabus that is updated periodically by the International Software Testing Qualification Board (ISTQB). The syllabus is freely available for download and it is what the training providers base their courses on. By reviewing the syllabus, we can understand what topics will be covered in the exam and what we need to know to have the knowledge required for the foundation level certification.

As the foundation level is aimed at those that may have no prior knowledge of testing, the syllabus starts with covering the fundamentals of testing. This includes being able to explain why testing is necessary and the basic test process from planning to execution and closure.

The syllabus then covers how testing activities fit into the software development lifecycle and the software development methodology being used in the project. You need to be familiar with the different levels of testing from component or unit testing to integration, system and user acceptance testing (UAT). You also need to understand the different types of tests, e.g. functional and non functional and if the test is related to a change, understanding what regression testing is.

It then covers how static techniques fit into the test process. Static techniques include reviews or automated analysis that is performed without actually executing the software. For example reviews of system related documentation including functional specifications, design documents, software code and test plans. Automated analysis refers to checks that can be done by tools on software source code to find any defects by comparing to predefined rules or standards.

The next topic is test design techniques. Here it is necessary to know the difference between specification based or black box techniques, structure based or white box techniques and experience based techniques. Using this understanding you need to know how to choose the appropriate test techniques for the test level and project situation. It is necessary to understand what is required to manage the test process. You need to be able to answer the following questions – How to organize a test team, plan and estimate test activities and monitor progress. How to ensure that all project outputs are version controlled and tracked to avoid any ambiguity (configuration management). How to determine, identify and manage project and product risk. How will incidents be managed?

The last topic covered is the tools that can be used to support the testing process. This covers not only tools that can support test execution but the whole testing process including test management, test specification, test performance and monitoring. Also, understand any risks associated with the use of a tool and what to consider before introducing a new tool into an organisation.

We have covered briefly here the topics that are part of the ISTQB syllabus for the foundation level software testing certification exam. As the exam is based on the syllabus, you should find it clear what topics are covered and what you need to study to have the knowledge to pass the exam. This article is based on information from the 2007 ISTQB foundation level syllabus. The syllabus is copyright by the ISTQB and its authors, Thomas Müller, Dorothy Graham, Debra Friedenberg and Erik van Veendendal.