International Software Testing Qualifications Board

The International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) is a software testing certification board that operates internationally.[1] Founded in Edinburgh in November 2002, the ISTQB is a not for profit association legally registered in Belgium.

ISTQB membership comprises 66 National Testing Boards [2] and a number of internationally recognized Examination Providers. Additionally, ISTQB has a network of over 300 Accredited Training Providers and approaching 250 members of the ISTQB Industry Partnership Program.[3]

With this extensive network of Accredited Training Providers, Member Boards and Exam Providers, ISTQB has administered over 1 million exams and issued more than 750,000 certifications in over 130 countries.[4]

ISTQB Certified Tester is a standardized qualification for software testers and is one of the biggest and most established vendor-neutral professional certification schemes in the world.

ISTQB qualifications are built on syllabi developed by ISTQB specialist development teams, to create a hierarchy of qualifications and guidelines for professional development and certification that support software testers throughout their careers in software testing and provide employers with the confidence of accreditations that are globally recognized.

The Certified Tester Foundation level underpins pathways to developing additional skills and certification through Test Analyst or Test Management, Agile Tester and Agile Test Leadership or into more specialist areas of testing (e.g. Test Automation, Security Testing, Performance etc).

ISTQB terminology (the “Glossary”) is the defacto language used in the field of software testing and connects professionals worldwide. The Glossary is coordinated and aligned with key industry organizations representing separate but related professional bodies, for example International Requirements Engineering Board (IREB), helping to promote a commonality of terminology across the industry.

Product portfolioEdit

Current ISTQB product portfolio follows a matrix approach[5] 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
Foundation 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 address specific domain driven 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.)


Pre-conditions relate to certification exams[6] 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.

ISTQB provides a list of referenced books from some previous syllabi online.[7]


The Foundation and Advanced exams consist of multiple choice tests.[8]

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

ISTQB Member boards are responsible for the quality and the auditing of the examination. Worldwide there are testing boards in 66 countries (date: May 2020). Authorized exam providers are also able to offer exams including e-exams (e.g. at Pearson VUE).[4]


The current ISTQB Foundation Level certification is based on the 2018 syllabus. The Foundation Level qualification is suitable for anyone who needs to demonstrate practical knowledge of the fundamental concepts of software testing including people in roles such as testers, test analysts, test engineers, test consultants, test managers, user acceptance testers and software developers.[9]

It is also appropriate for individuals who need a basic understanding of software testing including project managers, quality managers, software development managers, business analysts, IT directors and management consultants.[9]

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, among 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.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Emerging trends in IT-Software testing". The Hindu. 16 April 2008. Archived from the original on 20 April 2008. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
  2. ^ "Your Local Member Board". Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  3. ^ "ISTQB® Partner Program". Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Facts & Figures - ISTQB® International Software Testing Qualifications Board". Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  5. ^ "ISTQB Levels and modules". Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  6. ^ "ISTQB Exam Structure and Rules". Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  7. ^ "Referenced Books in ISTQB® Syllabi - ISTQB® International Software Testing Qualifications Board". Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  8. ^ Prasad, Dr. K.V.K.K. (2008) ISTQB Certification Study Guide, Wiley, ISBN 978-81-7722-711-6, p. vi
  9. ^ a b "Foundation Level 2018". Retrieved March 5, 2021.

External linksEdit