Cristian Livadaru's blog

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I Am Becoming a ISTQB Certified Tester

I usually don’t post blogs regarding my work but I think this one is worthy for being blogged.
Last month I attempted the first part in Budapest. “ISTQB – Certified Tester, foundation level” I was rather optimistic about this Certification, or rather about the seminary and learning some new things, but I was quite disappointed. Things like skipping pages from the material but then get questions about that skipped material at the exam. The material was also extended, my colleagues that did that seminary one year ago, had 25 pages in the “syllabus” we (the 4 of us that didn’t have time one year ago) had the same 3 days, but our syllabus had now 73 pages.
Things like the moderator not knowing answers to example questions without looking at the result page didn’t really increase my mood and the trust in this seminary.
But then finally the day of the exam came, since I signed not to tell any questions that came to the exam I will not do this here (well this is actually just an excuse for my bad memory, I didn’t remember one single question!). The questions where real stupid, things like which is not false or other traps like this and playing around with words. This has nothing to do testing the fact if you understood something in that seminary or if you are a good tester. It just tests if you have a good memory and can learn a lot of useless stuff within 3 days and remember it word by word. Like I expected I did not pass the exam but… the exam was reviewed and due to lack of the Translation (material and Seminary was English due to the fact that it was held in Budapest where some Hungarian colleagues also participated) some Questions where invalid so I did pass the exam after this review. Funny isn’t it? Why wasn’t the exam reviewed after the translation? This from my point of view show that this is rather a joke then some certificate that one should take serious! Also the fact that the exam of my colleague from Hungary was not reviewed show how unprofessional this whole thing is (maybe because he didn’t complaint, but it should be the same right for everyone … )
So now at the second part, the Advanced Level, we went trough some material that was already present as question in the first exam! Do I have to say anything more? Our moderator was quite surprised about this fact, we where rather pissed about it (at least I was). The last think I needed for my “I don’t give a …. about the result of the exam” attitude was that the moderator told us that she doesn’t think to positive about the exam. The exam is based on (what I already mentioned) remembering things word by word, or things like “This is not really used in praxis, but until thursday (the day of the exam) you have to accept it.” Why should I waste my time with something useless, never used or nearly never, in praxis just to satisfy some stupid exam? For example, today we just talked about a topic that we don’t use in our company, so this is wasted time! Like I read on some page about certifications:

If you feel that you will learn important and useful things about being a tester, I submit that you can learn more by putting the same effort into reading books & articles, trying new techniques at your job and having thoughtful discussions with senior testers you respect (i.e. self guided personal mentoring)

also this quite amused me:

That said, there are a significant number of highly respected members of the software testing community who feel that these (and similar) certifications actually do more harm to the industry (and often the individual) than good.

And I just loved these statements, especially the last one:

  • It is possible that knowledge gained in preparing for a certification could be useful to you as a tester – albeit, typically indirectly.

  • It is possible that having a list of certs on your resume will get you past initial screenings by recruiters, etc.

  • Certs *could* be useful toward specific goals or purposes, but I just don’t see where a cert will help you become a better tester.

In short – I think there are more career enhancing ways to spend your time/money.

Here some more things to think about:

It is easy to see why the number of certification programs continues to grow. Anyone can create their own certification, by following these simple steps:

  1. Create an impressive sounding organization, and get the .ORG domain name, ( .COM is well, too commercial.)
  2. Make up a certification name equally impressive, only caveat, make sure that the name isn’t already used. Should be four words, the first word should be “Certified”, so it’s likely to be confused with all of the other certifications out there. Turn the name into an acronym, and then only refer to the acronym.
  3. Create a Book of Knowledge. Include esoteric pieces of knowledge that only your adherents will know. (What the certificate acronym means doesn’t count.)
  4. Create a Test (May be done before the prior step, although you will need to include that esoteric piece of “knowledge”)
  5. Create the application. Make sure to add work experience and recommendation requirements, so you can weed out the troublemakers.
  6. Accept application that requires at least a $250 sitting fee. (Too cheap and the certification will not be respected.)
  7. Sell the Book of Knowledge to aspirants. ($100 should cover the $10 production cost and provide a reasonable profit.)
  8. Offer classes on the Book of Knowledge. (Minimum $450 per day) Don’t forget to share that esoteric piece of knowledge.
  9. Administer the test. (4 Hours of braining-numbing bubble-filling, seems to be standard.) For the truly hardcore, throw in essay questions (maximum of two) worth 50% of the score.
  10. Grade the test. Aim for a fifty to seventy-five percent pass rate. Not too low to deter applicants, but reject enough to make so those that pass can feel superior over a group of people who can’t pass the test. Provide the score, but never the answers.
  11. Send certificates (suitable for framing) to the passers. Make sure to tell them to add the certificate acronym to their email signature. (Free publicity; help distinguish the “winners” from the “losers”.)
  12. Expire the certificate in three years, so certificate holders are required to recertify. (Extra dollars, and helps clear the honor roll of deadbeats.) Make sure the recertification journal is as paper-intensive as possible. (Don’t want to make things too easy, again a respect issue.

So before spending money on some useless certificate … Read some books, its more efficient and cheaper!
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