How to pass the ISTQB exam without leaving home

In a previous article, I wrote about how to prepare for the exam. Now it’s time to talk about how I signed up for the exam and how I took it from my home office.

Many education and certification programs have undergone significant changes due to the pandemic. This also applies to ISTQB certification. Previously, in pre-corona times, it was necessary to register for an exam, which was organized by an accredited organization somewhere offline. As a rule, such an exam was held in large cities every few months. In Russia, these are mainly million-plus cities. In small countries or small regions, there are no organizations accredited to conduct exams and therefore offline exams are not held. For example, in Cyprus, where the IT community is quite developed, there are no such organizations, so in order to pass the exam in person, you will have to fly to another country.

The more convenient it seems to be able to take the exam remotely.

So. You decided to take the certification exam and prepared for it in your own way (or mine) the author’s method or took a course. Now it’s up to the little things:

  • sign up for an exam

  • pass the exam

  • get a certificate

  • attach it to your LinkedIn profile summary on HeadHunter.

How to choose an exam provider?

To take the exam, you need to choose an accredited organization. The list can be found on the website ISTQB in the section Training&Exams -> Find an Exam Provider. You will get here. Here we select the country in which you live, the language in which you want to take the exam and which certificate you want to receive. Click on the Search button and enjoy the list.

Now turn on your inner explorer. We need to go through each link and choose where we want to donate. It’s funny that even though the certification is aimed at QA/QA professionals, each site is bewildering in its number of defects and amazing user experience. Some resources from the list will redirect to each other or be duplicated. That is, in fact, there are fewer options to choose from than what you see in the list. Your task here is to find the least annoying site in terms of navigation and the most affordable option.

I chose https://atsqa.org/He is American. On your selected resource, you need to look at the price and options for taking the exam. Please make sure that the online deposit option is available.

There is a nuance here. If you choose an American or European provider, then given the current situation, there may be problems with payment from Russia. But, as far as I know, providers in Russia are still working.

A few tips to help you pass the exam successfully

  1. Some providers have a second attempt option, where by paying a relatively small amount (approximately 30% of the cost of the exam), if you fail, you get the opportunity to take the exam again. If you pass successfully the first time, the money for an unused attempt, of course, is not returned. But if you feel like you want an extra dose of confidence, then this is a good option.

  2. In my opinion, it is better to take it in English, in other languages ​​there may be peculiarities in the translation of terminology that can confuse. In addition, you can also brush up on English.

  3. Moreover, for those who donate in a non-native language, there is a +25% time allowance, for this you need to remember to check the appropriate box and be ready to confirm with documents.

Choose the time and date of the exam

On most sites, the process is as follows: you buy an exam voucher, and then use this voucher to schedule an exam for a selected date and time. Before using the voucher, carefully read how to use it, what are the rules and conditions for passing the exam.

Be careful when choosing the time, most resources are synchronized with your time zone, but keep in mind the possible difference in time. If the time zone is not directly indicated, it is better to contact support and clarify so that an unpleasant incident does not happen.

Preparing a workplace

It is better to appoint an exam at least a week from the current day. Most likely there will be questions and doubts about how the exam goes, and it is better to ask them to the support service. And support will most likely not respond immediately.

Not later than 3 days before the appointed day, prepare the device from which you will take the exam. It must be a computer + camera or laptop + camera, or a laptop with a built-in camera. Make sure your devices are compatible. Install all required applications. In my case it was Kryterion Sentinel, an exam software that shows your screen to the inspector. Make sure auto-updates are turned off so that they don’t cause a mass death of nerve cells when the update starts during the exam.

Consider where you will be taking the test. There should be no people or animals in the room. It is permissible to have a glass of water on the table, but no notepads, books, pens, phones. The place should be sufficiently lit and comfortable to sit for an hour and a half.

Exam

15 minutes before the scheduled start of the exam, you need to click on the link received or on the button that will become available. The inspector will then ask you to show your documents. Prepare a document (or better a couple) that confirms your identity. My document was not visible in the camera, as it glared. Therefore, I had to take pictures on a smartphone and show a photo of the document to the laptop camera.

Then the inspector will ask you to remove the phone and documents from the table, show where you removed it all. It will be necessary to show where you are sitting, what is around you, what is under the table. All communication takes place in text form. Carefully read the communication instructions and what the proctor writes. The exam will not start until you have completed all of its recommendations.

After everyone has checked, the inspector will allow the exam to begin and you will be automatically redirected to the exam platform. It remains only to get together and go through 40 questions in the allotted time.

You can finish the exam earlier, making sure that all questions are answered and there are no doubts left. After you finish the exam, you can immediately see information about the number of points scored.

A few life hacks on how to answer questions

  1. Some questions can be left unanswered and returned to at the end. But I would recommend answering right away, in the exam there is an opportunity to mark the question and return to it later if there is time. So for those questions that you are not sure about, you will answer with a 25% probability correctly. 25% is more than 0%

  2. At the same time, don’t waste too much time on difficult questions. Sometimes the answers to other questions come across in the questions of the test.

  3. Read the questions as carefully as possible. Often the question is formulated in such a way as to mislead the examinee. Constructions like “choose the most NOT common option”, “which option reflects the essence of the phenomenon LESS” should be re-read twice.

  4. For questions with a sequence of options or with the distribution of terms-definitions, most often (not always) the most frequent combination of options is applicable in the answer.

Example from official preparation materials:

Sample Exam – Questions Sample Exam set A
Sample Exam – Questions Sample Exam set A

The most common here are 1A, 2C and 3B. Option “a” collected all the most common combinations. It seems that the writers of the questions wanted to hide the correct answer among the similar options. It is advisable to use this method only in a completely hopeless case.

  1. For situational questions, try to simulate a situation for each answer and ask the question: “Could it happen that in some situation this option will be true? Does this situation match the condition of the question?

Results

I did not take certification in examination centers, so I can only compare with the exam at home in my thoughts.

In my opinion, renting at home from a familiar workplace is very comfortable. This gives extra confidence. In addition, there is no need to specially gather anywhere, go through the whole city, or even to another country, to push with other dealers. And after the exam, you can immediately treat yourself to a cup of your favorite tea.

The most important thing is to carefully read all the rules and provide yourself with a calm, comfortable environment for an hour and a half.

Good luck on your exam!

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