ISTQB or not to be……that is the multiple choice question


I had a really amazing idea (well i thought so at least) about this post….Catchy Heading, Comparisons with the Foundation Course and the UK Driving Theory Test, Just one big memory game, Minimal study time needed if you had half a brain, a test that you can get 13 out of 40 questions wrong and still pass is not a real test blah blah blah…..

After doing a really small amount of research – and i mean a small amount! Basically the time it took me to eat a Sausage and Egg Mcmuffin with my left hand whilst abusing Maccy Ds free WiFi on my IPhone in my non greasy muffin hand….this wasn’t my first ever visit to the Golden Arches either so it was even quicker that most Fast Food eaters. As well as this excellent piece of Multi Tasking, i also asked a couple of very experienced Testers who i respect greatly about their opinions of the ISTQB Foundation Exam….as soon as i saw the subject line of one of the Email responses was “istqzzzzzzzzzzzz” i laughed my back off and i knew that i was in for a great answer or a truly epic rant! I wasn’t disappointed.

I don’t want to sit here and write about how bad the “test” is or how much value it holds or doesn’t hold within the testing community – this has been absolutely flogged to death for a few years now from what i can see and i don’t really want to bring up and dwell on the same points that others have done already but what i would like to explain, if you very good people would allow me the time to do so….is why i took the Exam.

Working within the Defence Industry I’m surround by folks that value external career courses and certificates very highly and can’t wait to update the letters after their names on a shiny new set of Business cards and on Email Signatures. Fair play, Congrats and jolly well done that Man/Lady if you have done every course under the sun and you feel the need to display half the alphabet after your surname but I just don’t think that it comes across very well and especially not when most of them are pointless. As I work for a consultant firm, the information written on my CV is very important to potential defence clients and if it’s filled with lovely fluffy things like “ISTQB Certified Tester” then this will unfortunately make me more employable and they would want to hire me or at least want to speak to me.

If you have read my previous blog posts you know that I’ve not been doing this for very long but even i know that the ISTQB stuff is….how do i put this….pump! I’m not speaking for the Advanced levels here just the Foundation level, I absolutely love testing and everything about it and for that reason i kinda loved reading a “Software Testing” book for an hour or so and then answering multiple choice questions, again on a subject i love and then passing the test. That part of the process of getting the certificate i really enjoyed because i was reading about a subject I’m really enthusiastic about regardless of the outdated thinking behind the material….When the lovely lady behind the reception of the exam centre said i had passed i think i just said “Oh right… great” without any emotion on my face what so ever….pure dead pan expression, for someone who really loves testing and wants to excel in this craft to have no emotion on being told i have just passed a software testing exam – then i know it’s a pretty worthless thing to have and would i really want to advertise the fact that i have it!?!

There is one important thing that this experience has made me do though…’s made me look for better more worthwhile courses and exams that i would love to do, ones that are highly regarded in the community and thoroughly recommended by testers that i respect and testers that I’m inspired by everyday and that have helped me along my journey so far!

My journey continues…..




6 thoughts on “ISTQB or not to be……that is the multiple choice question

  1. Vernon Richards April 24, 2013 / 10:04 am

    Greetings Danny,

    Nice post. I don’t tend to rant about ISTQB because at the time I got mine, it helped (the explanation for which I should turn into a blog post of my own). I think the discussion has moved on now, as have the learning opportunities. So these days whenever I run into folks studying or thinking of studying for ISTQB, I’ll talk to them about it and suggest alternatives. Essentially, the point I try to get across is:

    “If you’re motivated enough to spend your time and money doing the ISTQB course to get better at software testing, there are better ways of spending that time and money.”

    Being that motivated is a great thing so the last thing I want to do is dull that enthusiasm, I would rather re-focus it :). I then proceed to brain dump on them the things that I have found useful.

    Thanks for sharing pal.


    • dannydainton April 24, 2013 / 5:10 pm

      Cheers for the comment mate – muchly appreciated!

      I think my main focus is the BBST now, if i can get that done then i will be very happy with myself!

  2. Dean Mackenzie April 27, 2013 / 10:45 pm

    Heya Danny,

    Good post on a somewhat controversial subject. I had a similar experience, in that I passed the exam, it helped to get me my first “real job” in testing, but never used 99% of what it taught (which ended up being an advantage – you don’t have to go back and “unlearn” it when you begin really learning about testing). Having managers / co-workers pumping certification can be somewhat frustrating, but in the end you control your own education – I’ll leave that up to them and find my education through other means

    Great to hear you’re doing BBST – a far superior and comprehensive course, actually dedicated to understanding testing (rather than throwing a bunch of jargon at you). If you get through that one, you’ll have learned a lot, and I can practically guarantee you’ll be satisfied with the work you put in to achieve it.

    • dannydainton April 28, 2013 / 6:51 pm

      Thanks mate – really appreciate the comment. The BBST is a must in my eyes as well as RST with James or Michael.

      I will be forever learning and evolving as a tester, always trying to better myself and will continue to be part of the testing community. If you don’t do that – why learn the craft in the first place.

  3. Mark Gilby May 8, 2013 / 11:16 am

    Hiya, Danny
    Your last para gels with my ethos. When I can’t learn something new in testing and from the assignments in which I work, then is the time to retire. … and not before.

    • dannydainton May 8, 2013 / 12:17 pm

      Thank you for your comment Mark. Everyday is a learning day in my eyes, I continually want to better myself and I think that will always happen until my last breath.

      Appreciate you taking the time to read the post.


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