ISTQB® Exam FAQs
How can I get an ISTQB® Certificate for Software Testers?
You must successfully pass the exams organized by your National or Regional Board or Examination Provider. There are currently two levels of exam available: The Foundation Level exam and the Advanced Level exams. The Advanced Level Syllabus supports 3 certifications, and there is a separate exam for each certification. Expert Level exams are currently being developed. For all three levels, ISTQB® ensures, through international reviews, a uniform exam structure.
What is the content of the exams?
Each exam is based on a pre-defined number of questions, aimed at verifying the acquired professional knowledge of the candidate on the topics covered by the relevant syllabus. There are different syllabi for Foundation and Advanced, containing the learning objectives the exam will be based on. In the Advanced syllabus, specific learning objectives are described for each of the three certifications. Each Expert exam will be based on the learning objectives contained in the syllabus for the corresponding expert module.
How are the exams structured?
The Foundation Level exam comprises 40 multiple-choice questions, with a scoring of 1 point for each correct answer, a pass mark of 65% (26 or more points) and a duration of 60 minutes (or 75 minutes for candidates taking exams that are not in their native or local language).
The Advanced Level exams comprise 65 multiple-choice questions, with different scoring (from 1 to 3 points) for the correct answer according to the question’s level of difficulty, a pass mark of 65% (65 or more points), and a duration of 180 minutes (or 225 minutes for candidates taking exams that are not in their native or local language).
The breakdown of the exam questions per K-level is done according to international guidelines and exam content reviews are periodically conducted to ensure consistency.
What are K-levels?
Each question is classified according to the cognitive level, the K-level (also known as level of knowledge).
The Foundation and Advanced exams cover four different K-levels (K1 to K4):
K1 = The candidate should remember or recognize a term or a concept.
K2 = The candidate should select an explanation for a statement related to the question topic.
K3 = The candidate should select the correct application of a concept or technique and apply it to a given context.
K4 = The candidate can separate information related to a procedure or technique into its constituent parts for better understanding and can distinguish between facts and inferences.
The Expert level exams will include five different K-levels (K2 to K6), with the two additional higher K-levels:
K5 = The candidate can adapt an existing process to meet changing risks, business needs or stakeholder demands.
K6 = The candidate can provide reasoned evaluation of a scenario, together with recommendations at a level suitable for presentation to senior management and/or customer/sponsor management.
How are questions selected for the exams?
Any question assessing the learning objectives of the corresponding syllabus (Foundation, Advanced or Expert) may appear in an exam. The distribution of the questions per topic is roughly proportional to the timings indicated in the syllabus.
How many options should be selected for multiple-choice questions?
In multiple-choice questions there can be one, two or three correct options and a number of distractors (incorrect options).
The candidate should select (clearly and non-ambiguously) either one correct option out of at least four, two correct options out of at least five, or three correct options out of at least 7. It is clearly stated in the exam paper how many options the candidate must select.
How are scores assigned to the answers?
Correct responses are awarded the pre-defined score:
For Foundation Level exams each correctly answered question is allocated one point
For Advanced Level exams a K2 question is allocated one point, while a K3 question may score 1, 2 or 3 points, and K4 questions may score either 2 or 3 points.
For Expert Level exams a K2 question is allocated 1 point, while a K3 is allocated 2 points, and K4 questions may score either 2 or 3 points. The points for MC questions represents between 24 and 36 percent of the total points. Essay questions (K5 and K6) are allocated the number of points defined in the scoring guideline.
Wrong, multiple or null responses receive no score.
Where can I find examples of exams?
If you wish to consult samples exams you can download practice exams from the ISTQB® website.
The following practice exams are available for free:
- ISTQB® Certified Tester Foundation Level PRACTICE EXAM (download).
How do I get the result of my exam?
The result will be sent to you by normal mail, e-mail or (only for on-line electronic exams) may be given immediately after the exam.
How do I get my ISTQB® certificate?
Your National or Regional Board or Examination Provider will post or e-mail the certificate to you; the certificate will show your name, the ISTQB® logo, a reference to the syllabus, including version, on which the certification is based and the effective date of certification.
Where and when can I take an exam?
Exams are offered by the National or Regional Boards or their Examination Providers. To get a list of Examination Providers in your country, please contact your National Board. Please apply to your National or Regional Board, to get local exam dates, applicable fees and booking information.
Do I need to attend a course to be allowed to take an exam?
You can take an exam without having attended a course. Attending a course offered by an accredited Training Provider may give you a higher probability of passing the exam (see the List of Accredited Training Providers). In addition, accredited self-study courses may also be available.
What are the pre-requisites to take an ISTQB® exam?
The Foundation Level exam has no pre-requisites. Preparation on the syllabus topics (obtained either through attending a course provided by an accredited Training Provider, from professional experience, and/or through self-study) is recommended.
To take the Advanced Level exams requires possession of the Foundation Level Certificate; ISTQB also recommends practical experience before taking this exam.
The Expert Level exams will only be available to those candidates having an Advanced Level Certificate.
Are there any rules to be followed during the exam?
Each exam is supervised by an authorized Proctor (Invigilator), who will distribute printed material (for paper-based examination) or make material available electronically (on-line) at an authorized online testing center.
The candidate cannot refer to any study material or use electronic devices (including mobile phones). Only plain paper and simple non-programmable calculators are allowed. An official translation of terms (not of their definitions) from the ISTQB glossary to the local language is allowed. Candidates taking exams that are not in their native or local language may use a dictionary.
A breach of the above rules, as well as copying or other types of cheating, obliges the Proctor to invalidate the exam.
How can I demonstrate the possession of an ISTQB® Certificate?
You may display the paper Certificate, which has been delivered to you. In addition, if your National or Regional Board has implemented it and you gave authorization, your name will be added to a List of Certificate Holders, which may be published on-line.
You may also use the ISTQB® Certified Tester logo (with indication of “CTFL" for Certified Tester Foundation Level and "CTAL-TM and/or CTAL-TA and/or CTAL-TTA and/or CTAL-Full" for Certified Tester Advanced Level – Test Manager, Test Analyst, Test Technical Analyst, or all three) in your CV / Résumé.
Is there any validity period for this certification?
Foundation Level and Advanced Level ISTQB® certificates are valid for life.
How often can I take the Foundation or the Advanced exam? Do I have to pay for re-taking an exam?
You can take the exams as many times as necessary to pass them. Typically each additional exam must be paid for separately.
Check with your National or Regional Board for the applicable fees and any rules on the minimum time interval allowed between exams.
I want to prepare for the exam by self-study - which preparation material should I use?
The ISTQB® syllabi and glossary are highly recommended. Other suggested preparation material (books etc.) may be found in the “Reference” chapter of each syllabus.
Who should I contact if I did not find the information I was looking for?
For additional details please contact RSTQB.