How to Pass ISTQB Foundation Level On the First Try

What is the best way to prepare for the ISTQB Foundation Level exam so you can pass on your first try? Learn from this tester's story.

In reality, there are many "best" ways to prepare for ISTQB CTFL. It depends on your learning style, resources, and available time.

However, we thought it would be helpful to share the details of how one tester successfully prepared for and passed ISTQB Foundation Level on their first try. We can't guarantee that it will work for you, but it may give you ideas as you prepare for your ISTQB exam.

Here is their story about preparing for and passing ISTQB Foundation Level on their first try.

How I Prepared for and Passed ISTQB Foundation Level On My First Try

  • I was new to software testing, so my first objective was to learn about testing and improve my software QA skills. Passing ISTQB Foundation Level was my ultimate goal, but I knew I needed to learn much more about software testing before I took the exam.
  • I started by subscribing to AT*SQA’s AT*Learn software testing training course. This course is online, so it allowed me to start and stop as I had time throughout the day or in the evening.
  • Inside of AT*Learn, I focused on its "Essentials of Software Testing" course. This training course has 8 modules that cover general testing topics such as test approaches and test techniques, plus more specialized topics such as performance testing, cybersecurity testing, DevOps testing, etc. I knew that some of these areas didn’t match up with ISTQB Foundation Level syllabus exactly, but as mentioned above, I wanted to improve my knowledge of software QA in general, and these were interesting QA testing topics.
  • After I completed each module in AT*Learn, such as "Test Approaches," I studied the free syllabus for that topic. Because each module corresponds to an AT*Micro Micro-Credential, the syllabus for each topic can be downloaded from the AT*SQA website on the AT*SQA Micro-Credentials pages.
  • I figured I might as well get on the Official U.S. List of Certified & Credentialed Software Testers™, and start increasing my Testing Tiers® ranking level, so after I felt like I knew the material, I signed for the AT*SQA Micro-Credential on that subject. The course and syllabus for each topic were very good, so I was able to pass each micro-credential exam on my first try.
  • I repeated this process until I had covered all eight modules in the AT*Learn Essentials of Software Testing course. As a result, I earned 8 AT*SQA Micro-Credentials, and those 8 stacked to the AT*SQA Testing Essentials certification. So before I ever took the ISTQB Foundation Level exam, I had 8 AT*SQA Micro-Credentials, and one AT*SQA Certification, plus decent Testing Tiers ranking in the Official U.S. List. This gave me confidence that I knew a lot more about software testing now.
  • As I mentioned, the AT*Learn Essentials of Software Testing course did not match the ISTQB Foundation Level syllabus exactly, so I needed to study more before I attempted the ISTQB Foundation Level exam.
  • With this in mind, my next step was to read through the ISTQB Foundation Level syllabus. This can be downloaded for free from the AT*SQA and ASTQB (ISTQB in the U.S.) websites. I was able to skim through some sections of the Foundation Level syllabus because I had learned that material through AT*Learn. This was the hardest part of my exam preparation because the ISTQB Foundation Level syllabus is fairly large and not particularly fun to read.
  • I didn't recognize the content in some sections of the ISTQB Foundation Level syllabus, so I studied those sections much more carefully to make sure I understood them.
  • After I finished studying the ISTQB Foundation Level syllabus, I downloaded the first ISTQB Foundation Level sample exam from the ASTQB website. On the advice of the AT*SQA support team, I made sure to use the ASTQB sample exam questions and answers because I planned to take my exam through AT*SQA. AT*SQA offers the ISTQB exams that are created by ASTQB (AT*SQA is ASTQB’s exam provider everywhere in the world).
  • I should note that I wanted to take my exam through AT*SQA/ASTQB because that was the only way to have my ISTQB certifications appear on both the Official U.S. List of Certified & Credentialed Software Testers™ as well as the ISTQB successful candidate register. Plus, only AT*SQA/ASTQB award Testing Tiers® software tester ranking points, and I wanted to keep building my ranking. Plus, AT*SQA provides a free way to add my certifications to LinkedIn.
  • After practicing with the first ASTQB Foundation Level sample exam, I reviewed my answers. I got just under passing, so I knew I needed to study more. The ASTQB sample exam answers include an explanation and reference to the ISTQB Foundation Level syllabus, which I found very helpful for further studying.
  • I also hadn't started studying the glossary terms yet. I used the free online ISTQB glossary that is linked from the AT*SQA website to study the terms that are part of the ISTQB Foundation Level syllabus. The online glossary lets you filter by just those terms that are part of Foundation Level, so that saved a lot of time.
  • After that additional studying, I took the second ASTQB ISTQB Foundation Level practice exam. I did well, and then I studied a few more topics that were still a little confusing to me. Finally, I felt ready.
  • I then scheduled my online ISTQB Foundation Level exam through AT*SQA. I picked a day when there was no one else at home so it would be quiet. I also chose a date a couple of days ahead so I could get my computer set up.
  • I downloaded and installed the exam-taking software on my computer the day before the exam to make sure it would work. I needed to update some settings, so I was happy I did this in advance.
  • On the day of the exam, I was ready. I cleared my space of everything so I would be ready for the online proctor to inspect my exam area.
  • I took the exam and ran into a connection issue for a short period of time. It corrected itself and there were no other issues.
  • I answered the questions as I went through the exam. But I made notes on the electronic scratch pad because were a few questions I wanted to go back to and think about more.
  • In the end, I submitted the exam with some time to spare.
  • I immediately saw that I passed the exam. I was so relieved and happy!
  • I received my official notification and listing on the Official U.S. List by the next morning. I saw the new points and an increase in my Testing Tiers® ranking!
  • I updated my LinkedIn through my AT*SQA account so that the ISTQB CTFL would appear.
  • Overall, the process took me about four weeks studying part-time. It was well worth it. I feel like I know much more about software testing now – and I can prove it with my micro-credentials and certifications.

We are happy to share this tester's story about how they prepared for their ISTQB Foundation Level exam and passed. If you have questions or would like to share your story, contact us at AT*SQA. We would love to hear from you!