International Software Testing Qualifications Board

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The International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) is a software testing qualification certification organisation that operates internationally.[1] Founded in Edinburgh in November 2002, ISTQB is a non-profit association legally registered in Belgium.

ISTQB Certified Tester is a standardized qualification for software testers and the certification is offered by the ISTQB. The qualifications are based on a syllabus, and there is a hierarchy of qualifications and guidelines for accreditation and examination. The ISTQB is a software testing qualification certification organization having over 500,000 certifications issued; the ISTQB consists of 58 member boards worldwide representing 81 countries as of May 2017.[2]

Product portfolio[edit]

Current ISTQB product portfolio follows a Matrix approach characterized by

  • Levels, that identify progressively increasing learning objectives
    • Foundation
    • Advanced
    • Expert
  • Streams, that identify clusters of certification modules:
    • Core
    • Agile
    • Specialist
Agile Core Specialist
Expert X
Advanced X X X
Foundation X X X

ISTQB streams focus on:

  • Core – these modules correspond to the “historical” ISTQB certifications and so they:
    • Cover software testing topic in a breadth-first, broad, horizontal way,
    • Are valid for any technology/ methodology/ application domain
    • Allow for a common understanding
  • Agile – these modules address testing practices specifically for the Agile SDLC
  • Specialist – these modules are new in the ISTQB product portfolio and address specific topics in a vertical way:
    • They can address specific quality characteristics (e.g.: Usability; Security; Performance; etc.)
    • They can address technologies that involve specific test approaches (e.g.: model based testing; mobile testing; etc.)
    • They can also be related to specific test activities (e.g.: test automation; test metrics management; etc.)

Content of exams[edit]

The exam for the Foundation Level has a theoretical nature and requires knowledge of software development – especially in the field of software testing.

The different Advanced Level exams are more practical and require deeper knowledge in special areas. Test Manager deals with planning and control of the test process. Test Analyst concerns, amongst other things, reviews and black box testing methods. Technical Test Analyst includes component tests (also called unit test), requiring knowledge of white box testing and non-functional testing methods – this section also includes test tools.

Pre-conditions among certifications[edit]

Pre-conditions relate to certification exams and provide a natural progression through the ISTQB Scheme which helps people pick the right certificate and informs them about what they need to know.

The ISTQB Core Foundation is a pre-condition for any other certification.

Additional rules for ISTQB pre-conditions are summarized in the following:

  • Foundation Core shall be required for Advanced Level Core;
  • Foundation Core is the default pre-requisite for Foundation Level Specialist certifications unless differently stated in the specific module; as of date, all Foundation Level Specialist certifications require Foundation Core as a pre-requisite;
  • Any Advanced Level Specialist or Expert Level Specialist module which is linked to a lower level Specialist module shall require certification at the lower level;
  • Expert Level modules shall require certification at the corresponding Advanced Level;
  • Any Advanced Level Specialist module which is not linked to a lower level Specialist module shall require the Foundations Core as a pre-condition;

Such rules are depicted from a graphical point of view in the ISTQB Product Portfolio map.


The Foundation and Advanced exams consist of a multiple choice tests.[3]

Certification is valid for life (Foundation Level and Advanced Level), and there is no requirement for recertification.

Testing boards are responsible for the quality and the auditing of the examination. Worldwide there are testing boards in 57 countries (date: May 2017). In the United States, the corresponding organisation is the American Software Testing Qualifications Board (ASTQB); in Britain, the UK Testing Board (UKTB); and in India, the Indian Testing Board (ITB).[3][4]


Foundation Level[edit]

  • Thomas Müller (chair), Rex Black, Sigrid Eldh, Dorothy Graham, Klaus Olsen, Maaret Pyhäjärvi, Geoff Thompson and Erik van Veendendaal (2007) Certified Tester - Foundation Level Syllabus - Version 2009, International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB), Möhrendorf, Germany[5]
  • Andreas Spillner, Tilo Linz, Hans Schäfer (2006) Software Testing Foundations - A Study Guide for the Certified Tester Exam - Foundation Level - ISTQB compliant, 1st print. dpunkt.verlag GmbH, Heidelberg, Germany. ISBN 3-89864-363-8
  • Andreas Spillner, Tilo Linz (2005) Basiswissen Softwaretest - Basiswissen Softwaretest: Aus- und Weiterbildung zum Certified Tester: Foundation Level nach ISTQB-Standard, 3rd extended and updated run, dpunkt.verlag GmbH, Heidelberg, Germany. ISBN 3-89864-358-1
  • Brian Hambling (ed.) Peter Morgan, Geoff Thompson, Angelina Samaroo, Peter Williams (2006) Software Testing: An ISEB Foundation, British Computer Society, ISBN 978-1-902505-79-4

Advanced Level[edit]

  • German Testing Board e.V. (2003) Software Testing - Advanced Level Syllabus - ISTQB-Certified-Tester, Advanced Level, Version 1.2(E). European Organization for Quality - Software Group, Erlangen, Germany[6]
  • Erik van Veenendaal (ed. and author) (2005) The Testing Practitioner, 3rd run, UTN Publishers, CN Den Bosch, the Netherlands, ISBN 90-72194-65-9
  • Andreas Spillner, Tilo Linz, Thomas Roßner, Mario Winter (2006) Praxiswissen Softwaretest - Testmanagement: Aus- und Weiterbildung zum Certified Tester: Advanced Level nach ISTQB-Standard, 1st run, dpunkt.verlag GmbH, Heidelberg, Germany, ISBN 3-89864-275-5
  • Graham Bath / Judy McKay (2008) The Software Test Engineer’s Handbook - A Study Guide for the ISTQB Test Analyst and Technical Test Analyst Advanced Level Certificates, Rocky Nook, USA; ISBN 978-1-933952-24-6
  • Andreas Spillner / Tilo Linz / Thomas Rossner / Mario Winter (2007) Software Testing Practice: Test Management, A Study Guide for the Certified Tester Exam ISTQB Advanced Level, Rocky Nook, USA, ISBN 978-1-933952-13-0
  • Patrick Hendrickx, Chris Van Bael and Alain Bultink (2010), Advanced Test Management Based on the ISTQB® Syllabus, Ps_Testware, Belgium, ISBN 978-9090257273

Foundation Level - Agile Tester[edit]

  • Rex Black, Anders Claesson, Gerry Coleman, Bertrand Cornanguer, Istvan Forgacs, Alon Linetzki, Tilo Linz, Leo van der Aalst, Marie Walsh, and Stephan Weber (2014). Certified Tester - Foundation Level Extension Syllabus Agile Tester, Version 2014 [7]
  • Leo van der Aalst and Cecile Davis (2013), TMap NEXT® in Scrum
  • Gojko Adzic (2009), Bridging the Communication Gap: Specification by Example and Agile Acceptance Testing, Neuri Limited
  • David Anderson (2010), Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business, Blue Hole Press
  • Kent Beck (2002), Test-driven Development: By Example, Addison-Wesley Professional
  • Kent Beck and Cynthia Andres (2004), Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change, 2e, Addison-Wesley Professional
  • Rex Black (2007), Pragmatic Software Testing, John Wiley and Sons
  • Rex Black (2009), Managing the Testing Process: Practical Tools and Techniques for Managing Hardware and Software Testing, 3e, Wiley
  • David Chelimsky et al (2010), The RSpec Book: Behavior Driven Development with Rspec, Cucumber, and Friends, Pragmatic Bookshelf
  • Mike Cohn (2004), User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development, Addison-Wesley Professional
  • Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory (2008), Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams, Addison-Wesley Professional
  • Adam Goucher and Tim Reilly, editors (2009), Beautiful Testing: Leading Professionals Reveal How They Improve Software, O'Reilly Media
  • Ron Jeffries, Ann Anderson, and Chet Hendrickson (2000), Extreme Programming Installed, Addison-Wesley Professional
  • Capers Jones and Olivier Bonsignour (2011), The Economics of Software Quality, AddisonWesley Professional
  • Tilo Linz (2014), Testing in Scrum: A Guide for Software Quality Assurance in the Agile World, Rocky Nook
  • Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle (2001), Agile Software Development with Scrum, Prentice Hall
  • Erik van Veenendaal (2012), The PRISMA approach, Uitgeverij Tutein Nolthenius
  • Karl Wiegers and Joy Beatty (2013), Software Requirements, 3e, Microsoft Press


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Emerging trends in IT-Software testing". The Hindu. 16 April 2008. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
  2. ^ "ISTQB facts and figures".
  3. ^ a b Prasad, Dr. K.V.K.K. (2008) ISTQB Certification Study Guide, Wiley, ISBN 978-81-7722-711-6, p. vi
  4. ^ ISTQB - Member boards in other countries
  5. ^ Certified Tester - Foundation Level Syllabus International Software Testing Qualifications Board; PDF; 1.1 MB
  6. ^ Certified Tester - Advanced Level International Software Testing Qualifications Board
  7. ^ Certified Tester - Foundation Level - Agile Tester International Software Testing Qualifications Board
  8. ^ Books referenced in ISTQB Syllabi: Foundation Level - Agile Tester International Software Testing Qualifications Board

External links[edit]