When looking for a new job or promotion, there’s no better way to stand out from other software testers and prove your skills than having a well-recognized certificate. The International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) certificate provides global recognition of acquired competencies and skills. Also, it ensures a tester has a higher appeal in the labor market.

While these certifications are not necessary for a software tester career, they indicate that the holder has a vast amount of knowledge of software testing and quality assurance (QA). The ISTQB certification is also an indicator that you have good theoretical knowledge and can quickly solve problems.

We will explain what ISTQB is, present its value, and help you prepare for the ISTQB certification exam.

In this article:

  1. What is ISTQB?
  2. Why do you need to pass the ISTQB Exam?
  3. Why should you choose the ISTQB certification?
  4. Levels of certifications offered by ISTQB
  5. ISTQB exam preparation
  6. ISTQB exam tips
  7. Conclusion

What is ISTQB?

The ISTQB is an international software testing certification that many companies and organizations throughout the world accept as proof of skills.

The certificate is the most popular and recognizable in the world for test engineers but not just them. It is beneficial for anyone who would like to demonstrate their software testing skills and knowledge, including:

  • Testers
  • Test managers

The ISTQB establishes software testing certification and accreditation requirements for an ISTQB-authorized training provider. It also offers a certification exam (with the opportunity of mock tests), which is globally available in multiple languages.

ISTQB Certificate Sample

With this certificate, it is much easier to find a job and start or enhance a career in this field. In addition, passing the ISTQB exam simplifies communication among testers because it unifies the terminology used for work purposes.

Why do you need to pass the ISTQB exam?

There are quite a few reasons why a person should take the ISTQB exam. First of all, it is an independent, internationally recognized validation of skills that employers trust.

For example, if you want to get hired as a tester in an organization, you will have a slight advantage over other job applicants with the certification. The ISTQB certificate is portable proof of your abilities for current and future employment.

But, it's not just about getting a job as a tester. The ISTQB certificate builds and extends skills to support career progression. This means that it can also help you move up the career ladder in your current organization and increase your earning potential.

In short, the ISTQB certificate will enhance your professional credibility, but out of all the certification programs available, why should you choose this one? Keep reading to find out!

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Why should you choose the ISTQB certification?

The ISTQB certificate is a sign of quality assurance training and experience as ISTQB accredited training providers must adhere to strict quality assurance guidelines.

Here are several reasons why you should choose ISTQB out of all the certification programs:

  • Employers tend to seek certified professionals. The certificate opens doors for you as a QA engineer, even if you don't have much work experience.
  • ISTQB gives you the flexibility to choose the direction of your career that fits your testing job.
  • Being ISTQB certified could reduce your company’s or client’s costs.
  • The certificate will undoubtedly give you an edge over non-certified testers.

Therefore, if you want a certification that has value, portability, and credibility, then look no further than the ISTQB certificate. To get this certification, of course, you need to pass an exam consisting of multiple-choice questions.

Now that you know how valuable this certificate is, let's get into more details about the types of certificates offered by ISTQB.

Levels of certifications offered by ISTQB

ISTQB offers three levels of certification:

  • Certified Tester Foundation Level is a beginner-level certification. This certificate demonstrates that testers have knowledge and comprehension of the basics. If you started recently, this certification is the best place to start. ISTQB foundation exam checks your basic understanding of the terminology, concepts, and processes used in software testing and QA.
  • Certified Tester Advanced Level is more challenging and generally aimed at experienced testers. It evaluates your knowledge of test processes and advanced testing concepts, such as black or white box test design and agile testing methodology. Beyond the basics, you'll also need to show knowledge about tools and test techniques like exploratory testing, automation (including data-driven testing), and performance testing.
  • Certified Tester Expert Level is a pro-level position that shows your complete proficiency in this field. Testing experts can apply their special skills and knowledge in real-life conditions. These experts not only deeply understand testing but also a particular test area. They combine testing theory with practice exams and positively impact the direction of a project or an organization when creating, implementing, and executing testing activities.

Levels of ICTQB Certification

If you want to become an ISTQB-certified tester, you need to pass exams that correspond with the level of certification you seek. 

  • The Foundation Level exam, is a 60-minute exam with 40 questions. To pass the ISTQB Foundation Level exam, you must answer 26 out of 40 questions correctly.
  • The Advanced Level exam’s duration is about 120 minutes and has 60 questions. You must give correct answers to at least 45 out of 60 questions to pass this certification exam.
  • The Expert Level exam is at least 180 minutes and includes three exams (Strategic, Operational, and Managing the Test Team), which must be passed with at least 65% of the questions answered correctly on each.
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How to prepare for ISTQB exam

ISTQB exams cover all of the testing skills you need to work independently as a test engineer or manager.

However, preparing for the exam can be tricky, as the organization doesn't offer official ISTQB training courses. In this section, we'll teach you how to prepare for and pass the ISTQB exam the very first time you take it!

How long does it take to prepare for an ISTQB exam?

The amount of time needed to prepare for the ISTQB exam depends on your current knowledge in the software testing field. Suppose you are new to software development and testing. In that case, it is highly recommended that you take a course or study guide to gain the basic knowledge required to pass the ISTQB Foundation Level syllabus certification.

On average, it takes about two months of daily diligent learning to prepare for the test.

Remember that, during the ISTQB foundation level exam preparation certification test, you must register at least four days before the exam. You should also choose how to take the exam — remotely or at a special center.

Topics you should focus on

ISTQB certification preparation is about understanding the concepts, processes, and tools used in software testing. To help you prepare better, we compiled a list of the most important topics you need to study before attempting the test.

Testing fundamentals

In order to pass the ISTQB Foundation Level certification, you need to be familiar with the basics of software testing and QA. You should know the different types of tests, test process models, and how to write effective test cases. Make sure to focus on the STLC, testing principles, and early testing.

  • Testing techniques. You should also be well-informed about necessary testing techniques, equivalence partitioning, boundary value analysis, and related mathematical questions.
  • Static testing. Static testing is the process of reviewing software to find defects without running the software. Standard static testing techniques include code reviews, walkthroughs, and inspections.
  • Testing management. It is also important to know the different aspects of test management, such as setting up a test environment, creating a test plan, and managing defects.
  • Testing tools. In addition to the basics, you should also be familiar with different tools and technologies used in software testing, such as bug tracking tools, test automation tools, and performance testing tools.

Now that you know what topics to focus on, let’s explore the materials and resources that can help you prepare for the exam.

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Resources for ISTQB certification preparation

Now that you know what to focus on, it's time to find good resources to help you prepare for the ISTQB exam.

  • Syllabus. The ISTQB syllabusis a complete list of all the topics covered in the software testing field. Make sure to read this document carefully before you start your preparation process.
  • Foundations of Software Testing ISTQB Certification. This study guide is great for those who want to gain a deep understanding of the basics of software testing. It covers all the topics mentioned in the ISTQB syllabus and includes practice questions and exercises.
  • ISTQB glossary. The ISTQB glossary is a comprehensive list of all the terms and definitions used in the software testing field. Make sure you're familiar with all of the terms in this document before you take the ISTQB certification exam.
  • 500 sample questions. Make sure to go through the 500 sample questions and the right answers that you can use to improve your knowledge of all of the topics covered in the ISTQB syllabus.
  • ISTQB apps. There are numerous ISTQB apps available for download. Make sure to get them so you can study on the go.

In addition to these resources, we’ve also prepared some tips to help you prepare for it and pass the exam.

Last but not least, here are several tips that will help you pass the ISTQB Foundation and Advanced level tests with ease.

When preparing for the exam:

  • Try to actually memorize the information, not just passively reread it several times.
  • Learn the materials first and then take the test.
  • Take tests right after each learned section.
  • Use a timer when taking the full version of the test.
  • Familiarize yourself with the process of taking the exam the day before the certification.
  • Get enough rest the night before the test.

To pass the exam, try the following:

  • Make sure to test the system before you take the test. Also, consider taking a mock exam in their program to understand how their system works and take notes in a notebook on a computer.
  • Try to focus first on the questions you know for sure and then move on to more complicated ones.
  • Read the task statement carefully.


And this is it — your complete guide to preparing and passing the ISTQB certification exam on the first attempt!

Holding an ISTQB certificate is incredibly beneficial for your professional profile. It shows you are well-informed and educated about software testing, helping you stand out from other testers.

Make sure to familiarize yourself with the ISTQB syllabus topics to pass your exam. Make sure you go through all of our resources and use them during your preparation process to help you get a passing score for the certification test.