Last year I moved from being a developer to being a tester. One of the aspects of testing that appealed to me was the more structured learning approach available to me compared to what I was seeing as a developer.
In my organisation there’s an expectation that all testers who haven’t already sat the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) foundation exam have sat it after 6 months in the job.
So with my 6 months passed, I tracked down my local examination venue and booked myself in and then sat down to revise for exam, for the first time in 13 years (the last time being my A-Levels).
The ISTQB foundation exam syllabus isn’t very long, it’s 6 chapters over about 70 pages so I set myself a goal to have finished my first read through in a week — as long as I was able to focus it was achievable
So I dragged my girlfriend down to our local pub one evening and sat down with my iPad, my notebook and a beer and for about 2 hours all was going well, until a group came in that ruined the atmosphere and distracted us.
The next day we attempted to work from a coffee shop, it’s not a very busy coffee shop and it has some nice comfy seats so we thought it would be an ideal study location, but the table was about a foot wide so I ended up writing with my book and iPad on separate legs — not an ideal revision position!
After struggling to find a good place and getting some serious hand cramp (I’d forgotten how much writing for 2 hours can hurt!) I decided to work from home and set up a positive studying atmosphere.
In order to get into a state of flow I cleaned up my desk and made sure I had a playlist of the finest Technical Death Metal (my music of choice when it comes to getting stuff done) so I could just focus on reading and writing.
I also swapped out my notebook for Evernote as the hand cramp from writing was a distraction in itself. I can type quicker and for longer but it doesn’t have the same ‘commit it to memory’ ability as writing does.
On the subject of Evernote, it doesn’t have a very good editor. I struggled to create a good structure while taking notes and once you’ve written text, you can’t select and make it bold or underlined.
Additionally I found that when I hit the bottom of the screen instead of scrolling up to allow me to see the text I was typing it would just continue the text underneath the fold so I was typing blind.
One of the benefits of a notebook (especially the Moleskine Pro ones I use) are that you can split up the page in to separate sections and after completing a page write a list to summarise the pages content.
I tried to do a read through of the course syllabus once a week, it’s about 7 0 pages split over 6 chapters so it seemed achievable but of course life got in the way and I ended up cramming two readings into the last 3 days before the exam.
Things became a lot easier once I could skim the main content of the syllabus and then fall back on reading my notes to really increase my understanding of what the points of the chapter were.
Did it work?
Yep, I managed to pass! It took me a couple of days to learn my mark but I managed to get 34 out of 40.
Having done the exam now I’m thinking about sitting some more, my employer offers a bonus for doing AWS and Azure exams so I’m seriously eyeing them up.
Another route I could go is the ISTQB Automation Engineer so there’s a few options for further learning.