How to do well in the ISTQB Foundation Exam

So here you are, about to sit the ISTQB Foundation Exam. 
Maybe you want to enter the world of Software Testing and want to get a related qualification on your CV/resume. Maybe you’re already working as a Test Analyst and now your company has a new initiative where everyone needs to sit this exam. 
Either way, I  hope some of the tips below can help.

But first, I’d like to thank ISTQB for this picture. This is a visual summary of what to expect in the ISTQB Foundation Exam.

For more tips go here:

Time and Format of the Exam

There are 40 multiple choice questions.
You have 1 hour to answer all of the questions.
Bear in mind that a fair number of the questions are tricky so you definitely want to leave time at the end (10-20min) to go over answers and make sure that you didn’t accidentally pick the wrong answer because you didn’t read it correctly.

Here’s a link that summarises the exam structure. This is VERY useful. Make sure you look at this.

Here’s the number of questions allocated to each chapter
Chapter 1: Fundamentals of Testing – 7
Chapter 2: Testing throughout the Software Cycle – 6
Chapter 3: Static Techniques – 3
Chapter 4: Test Design Techniques – 12
Chapter 5: Test Management – 8
Chapter 6: Tool Support for Testing – 4 

K1 (50% weighting) Remember, recognise and recall
K2 (30% weighting) Understand, explain, give reasons, compare, classify and summarise.
K3 (20% weighting) Apply in a specific context

Models, Levels and Types of Testing

Make sure you learn the different models (V-Model, Waterfall etc), Levels (User Acceptance Test, System Testing etc) and Types (Regression, Functional, Non-functional) of Testing
When I say ‘learn’, I mean this:
  • Learn the definition of each of them
  • Learn their advantages and disadvantages
  • Learn the order of the levels and what they involve. i.e. User Acceptance Testing, System Test, Integration Test, Unit/Component Test
  • Learn how to compare things with each-other i.e. Models with other models, Types with other Types

Practice Practice Practice!

Make sure you do not only the mock exam questions at the back of the textbook, but also past exams online.
Here are some useful websites to get you started:

Testing Techniques, Tools and Dynamic & Static Testing

With regards to Testing Techniques, as you learn them- think about how you can apply them to the real world.
For Dynamic and Static Testing- not only should you learn the definitions but what it actually involves. i.e.
  • Static Testing is Testing without execution e.g. going over documentation to make sure there are no defects.
  • Dynamic Testing is Testing WITH execution e.g. once you have a Test Environment, playing with the system to see how it’s going
For tools, learn the different types, how an organisation would go about introducing it into an organisation and potential benefits and risks of testing tools.

The Fundamental Test Process

Learn the order in which the 5 key areas take place and learn the activities performed in each area
  1. Test Planning and Control
  2. Test Analysis and Design
  3. Test Implementation and Execution
  4. Evaluating exit criteria and reporting
  5. Test Closure Activities

Extra tips that don’t necessarily apply only to this exam

Read the question carefully

When I was studying for this exam doing mock/past exams, it never ceased to amaze me how many questions I got wrong because I thought I knew the answer before I finished reading the question- and I ended up picking answers prematurely

Don’t get stuck on a question

If you get stuck on a question, highlight or circle it then move on. There are 2 reasons for this:
1. You can let your brain ‘process’ the question so that when you come back to it later you’re more likely to know the answer
2. You won’t risk not having enough time to answer questions you knew the answer to because you got stuck on one single question

When you first learn something, revise it within 24 hours so that it really sinks in

Someone taught me this tip in first year uni and I’ve made an effort to do this ever since. It works.

Reword your notes

Don’t just straight out copy them from the textbook/internet
That way, you’re more likely to understand it

Display your study notes in a visual way

Draw pictures

Study with Friends and Partake in online Discussions

That way, you can bounce ideas off each other and explain concepts that others may struggle/ be taught concepts you’re having trouble grasping.
In NZ, it costs $300 + GST to sit the Foundation Level exam 
Should you need to resit it, the price is the same.

So there you have it, hopefully you came across some useful tips in this blog post for when you sit the ISTQB Foundation Exam.

COMING UP: Tips on how to differentiate between Path Coverage and Decision Coverage

What tips did you find most useful? What other tips do you have for people about to sit the ISTQB Foundation Exam? 

If you’ve already sat the ISTQB Foundation exam, how did you find it?



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