how I passed the ISTQB Foundation Level Agile Tester exam: a senior QA’s story

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written bySenior Software Testing Engineer

A certified QA engineer with more than 5 years of experience as a manual tester. I have a teaching and mentoring experience at multiple IT schools and have helped my mentees successfully pass different education programs. I'm motivated to gain knowledge about software testing from any possible source and share this knowledge with both highly qualified engineers and junior specialists.

A certified QA engineer with more than 5 years of experience as a manual tester. I have a teaching and mentoring experience at multiple IT schools and have helped my mentees successfully pass different education programs. I'm motivated to gain knowledge about software testing from any possible source and share this knowledge with both highly qualified engineers and junior specialists.

In this article, I'll provide a brief overview of the ISTQB Foundation Level Agile Tester (CTFL-AT) certification exam and share my experience of successfully passing it earlier this year. Read on for some background information about the ISTQB, the benefits of becoming a certified software testing engineer, and tips on how to pass the exam stress-free.

Why do QA engineers need ISTQB certifications?

Almost every person who is interested in software testing has heard about the ISTQB certification. The ISTQB is the most popular certification in the world for software testing engineers. Year by year, we see that the requirements and responsibilities of candidates are growing, and one of the best ways to prove your skills and qualifications is to pass exams and get certificates, especially for those who want to land highly-coveted remote QA engineer jobs.

The ISTQB provides opportunities to pass different software testing-related certifications on different levels. The certification on the foundation level is not too complicated to pass but does require a certain level of preparation.

The ISTQB Foundation Level Agile Tester certification: an overview

Here are the benefits of passing the Foundation Level Agile Tester (CTFL-AT) certification:

  • Gain expertise in the specific testing process in Agile projects
  • Extend your vision on the required tester qualification to be able to provide a high enough level of quality on different levels
  • Refresh your knowledge about fundamental testing approaches and principles
  • Ensure a good basis to qualify for promotion and salary increase
  • Get the opportunity to move to a more advanced level
  • Share your acquired knowledge within the company and with colleagues

Requirements for passing the exam

The list of recommended prerequisites is as follows:

  • English level: an intermediate level is enough to pass the exam
  • Basic Certificate: it’s required to have the Foundation Level (CTFL) certificate to be able to proceed to any other certificate
  • At least 2 weeks of daily preparation time prior to taking the exam to learn the required materials
  • Choosing your exam provider (e.g. ISQI)
  • Having worked as a QA engineer for at least 1 year

Preparation materials

As this certification focuses on Agile methodologies, it’s imperative that you know about Agile values and principles.

One of the main obligatory guidelines for reading is the syllabus, which is available to download on the official website. It's also recommended that you download sample examination questions and answers to help you practice.

Courses that are highly recommended for the preparation process:

Additional material – Scrum and Kanban guides:

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My personal experience of passing the CTFL-AT exam

Like many other Agile methodologies fans, I am trying to extend the board of knowledge within this area through various methods. As I already have a CTFL certificate, I decided to get another one and chose CTFL-AT as the most appropriate next step for my current career path.

Since most projects work in an Agile environment, it's useful to know about the different approaches and terminologies that exist in the Agile area, as workflow can vary from project to project. The more you know about these variations, the faster you can become familiar with each new project in your career.

The overall level of questions was not very complicated, and many of them looked familiar to those that I answered in the ISTQB Agile Tester Certification Exam Preparation Course I mentioned above.

I would say that this certification gave me more confidence in using the knowledge that I already have regarding Agile methodologies and introduced me to new terms and approaches that can be used in improving the testing process.

As a bonus, here are some question examples:

  • Which methodology next values are related: communication, simplicity, feedback, respect, courage?
  • What role exists in Scrum?
  • What is most true about the behavior-driven development approach?

My tips on passing the CTFL-AT exam confidently

The overall time for the exam is 60 minutes, although it’s possible to request an additional 15 minutes in case English is not your native language. This may seem like more than enough time in theory, but in reality, time passed by very quickly.

  1. Skip questions that consist of long descriptions, and if any questions/answers are confusing, it's better to go back to these after all the other questions have been answered.
  2. Don’t try to learn anything new the day before the exam, as your mind should be clear and not overstressed.
  3. Read all the answer options. Even if some seem completely wrong, it's important to fully read the whole thing, as one of the complexities of this certification is that some questions are written in a way where one answer can be more correct or incorrect than another.
  4. In the case of taking the exam online, it's important to create a proper working atmosphere and fix all secondary things ahead of time, such as setting up the microphone or camera so you can concentrate on just passing the exam.
  5. Don’t cheat, as this will result in you being fined and possibly suspended from the exam process. Even if you’re unsure of an answer or stuck on translating a word, it's better to skip the question and come back to it later.

Good luck from the EPAM Anywhere team in getting your desired certificate!

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written bySenior Software Testing Engineer

A certified QA engineer with more than 5 years of experience as a manual tester. I have a teaching and mentoring experience at multiple IT schools and have helped my mentees successfully pass different education programs. I'm motivated to gain knowledge about software testing from any possible source and share this knowledge with both highly qualified engineers and junior specialists.

A certified QA engineer with more than 5 years of experience as a manual tester. I have a teaching and mentoring experience at multiple IT schools and have helped my mentees successfully pass different education programs. I'm motivated to gain knowledge about software testing from any possible source and share this knowledge with both highly qualified engineers and junior specialists.

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