How To Prepare for and Pass the ISTQB Foundation Level Exam

The ISTQB Foundation Level Exam (also called CTFL) is the first ISTQB exam you need to take because ISTQB Foundation Level certification is a prerequisite (required) for all other ISTQB certification exams.

How to prepare for the ISTQB Foundation exam

  • Download Resources – All resources for the ISTQB Foundation Level are available on our website.
  • Take Practice Exams – After studying the syllabus, take the practice exams. When you are done, take it again. This will prepare you for the general format of our exams, so you will know what to expect.
  • Watch ISTQB Foundation Level training videos
  • Schedule Exam – Once you feel prepared for your exam, go ahead and choose your ISTQB exam date. We highly suggest that you schedule your exam well in advance. Why? Because it will give you a date to work towards to be ready for the exam. When you register, you can download and install the software well before your exam day. Going into your exam well prepared will help your focus on the exam day

Below are tips to help you prepare for the ISTQB Foundation Level exam.

If you’re not familiar with ISTQB Foundation Level, it is the most popular software testing certification in the world and in America. U.S. employers want to know that you have key software testing knowledge, and ISTQB Foundation Level certification provides proof.

In addition, U.S. employers want to know if you have English language skills so you can work effectively with the rest of their employees and contractors. That’s why American employers check with us, ASTQB, and our official ISTQB exam provider AT*SQA to see if you are ISTQB certified. In case you don’t already know, ASTQB stands for the “American Software Testing Qualifications Board”. We are the official representative of ISTQB in the United States.

In summary, if you want a job in the U.S. or working remotely for an American company, you want to register for and take your ISTQB exam through ASTQB or our official ISTQB exam provider AT*SQA. Doing so can help your resume stand out versus other software testing job seekers.

Now, on to the tips that will help you pass ISTQB Foundation Level Certification. We can’t give you the answers to the ISTQB Foundation Level exam, of course, but we can offer the best ideas we’ve heard from testers on how to prepare for the ISTQB CTFL exam.

The ISTQB Foundation Level Exam Structure
The ISTQB Foundation Level (CTFL) exam consists of 40 questions and each question is worth one point. This means you need to get at least 26 questions right to pass the ISTQB Foundation Level exam.

ISTQB Exam Prep: Should You Take Training or Self-Study, or Both?
If can do so, it will help you to take a course through one of ASTQB’s accredited software testing training providers to prepare for the ISTQB Foundation Level exam. The course is only three days long in most cases. You can take the exam at the end of the course because the training should be quite good: when we accredit the course, that means we have checked the course materials to ensure they adequately cover the entire ISTQB Foundation Level syllabus contents. Be sure to take your training from someone who will give you the ISTQB exam through ASTQB or AT*SQA! Otherwise, you’ll miss out on the extra benefits of being on both the ISTQB successful candidate register AND the Official U.S. List of Certified Software Testers! Plus, you can only earn points toward your Testing Tiers™ software tester ranking by taking your ISTQB exam through ASTQB or AT*SQA.

That said, there are many who pass ISTQB CTFL by studying on their own. ASTQB gives you lots of free study materials to help you get ready, and the links to the ISTQB study materials are below. (The resources and tips below are helpful to everyone preparing for the ISTQB Foundation Level exam, regardless of whether you are taking training or studying on your own.)

ISTQB Exam Prep: How Much Experience Do You Have?
We have heard that people with programming backgrounds feel that they can do well on the ISTQB Foundation Level exam if they study for two or three weeks. But here is an important point: Just because you know programming and testing to some degree, you may not currently use terms that are found in the ISTQB exam. Many companies use different terminology, so it’s important that you understand the common terms used worldwide by ISTQB. (By the way, this is one of the reasons employers want testers who have ISTQB Foundation Level – they will use the same terminology and testing principles as the rest of their team. That makes the whole team much more efficient!)

We have also heard that if you don’t have any or much experience, you may want to study one to two hours per day for three or four weeks before you take the ISTQB exam. Note that when you register for your ISTQB exam through ASTQB and our official ISTQB exam provider AT*SQA, you have up to 365 days to take your exam! This gives you lots of time to prepare for your ISTQB exam.

ISTQB Exam Prep: Free Study Materials!
ASTQB has free ISTQB exam preparation materials that can be downloaded from the ASTQB website. These include the:

  • ISTQB syllabus
  • ISTQB glossary
  • ISTQB sample questions and answers – built especially for the ASTQB/AT*SQA ISTQB exams
  • ASTQB videos on various software testing topics

ISTQB Exam Prep: Know Your Terms!
The ISTQB Foundation Level exam covers lots of concepts and software testing terms (vocabulary). Study the ISTQB glossary well. Knowledge of software testing terms is important for the exam and for your communication with other U.S. software testers.

Tip: The online glossary lets you narrow down the terms to those used in the Foundation Level exam. So you don’t have to study the terms found in other certifications, at least not until you are getting ready for those exams.

ISTQB Exam Prep: Practice, Practice, Practice
It’s important to practice with quality sample exams found on the ASTQB website and AT*SQA website. ISTQB exam questions from other sites may not have the correct answers (or they might – you won’t know for certain because they haven’t been reviewed by our expert testers).

Be sure to practice with ASTQB’s ISTQB practice exams multiple times. Doing so will help you become comfortable with the format of the ISTQB exam.

ISTQB Exam Prep: How to Take the Exam
Those who coach exam takers often recommend that if you are certain about the answer, it’s probably correct. If you are unsure, narrow down the options to the top two and then pick one. You won’t lose points if you are wrong.

ISTQB Exam Prep: How to Register for ISTQB Foundation Level
As noted below you should register for your ISTQB exams through ASTQB and/or our official ISTQB exam provider AT*SQA because you get extra benefits:

ISTQB Exam Prep: You’ve Got This!
If you’ve read this far, you’re already showing you have the drive and dedication to pass the ISTQB Foundation Level exam. You can do it!

Want to see more tips? Read the story of a tester who passed the ISTQB Foundation Level exam on their first try.