Climbing the ISEB Software Testing Certification Ladder

Published: 30th October 2009
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Many people are unsure about the sequence of ISEB software testing certifications, which necessitates the need for an overview. Like all progressive certification programs, the governing board (in this case the BCS) requires that ISEB certifications be obtained in a specific order. This purpose of this article is to provide a high level overview of the ISEB certification process.

ISEB Foundation Level

The first certification is the ISEB Foundation level, and it is a prerequisite for all other ISEB software testing certifications. This certification tells prospective employers that the candidate knows how to test software, and has knowledge of the applicable techniques, standards, and testing tools.

Recently, the respective governing boards have combined the ISEB Foundation syllabus with the ISTQB Foundation syllabus. This was done because both are very similar, with the main difference being that one is more recognized in the UK (ISEB Foundation) and one is more recognized internationally (ISTQB Foundation). But aside from this, the actual content of both are so similar that the certification requirements are now identical and in fact both utilize the same syllabus.

Thus, passing one of the Foundation level exams now means that you will have "dual accreditation" in both the ISEB and ISTQB Foundation levels. Beyond the Foundation level, all subsequent ISEB and ISTQB certifications are separate.

ISEB Intermediate Level

Candidates earning their ISEB Foundation (or ISTQB Foundation) level certification are then eligible to take their ISEB Intermediate level exam. This certification dives much deeper into the Foundation-level topics and is critical for the career advancement of software-testing professionals.

Much of the focus of this level is on the practical application of the Foundation level information. As such, the actual exam consists of scenario-based questions in a multiple-choice format.

ISEB Practitioner Level

The next progression after the ISEB Intermediate level is the ISEB Practitioner level certification. There are two possible ISEB Practitioner accreditations: Test Management and Test Analysis. Either of these can be taken after earning your Foundation and Intermediate certifications, and there is no required order in which to take them.

As you would expect, the 'Test Management' certification is appropriate for software testing managers, and the 'Test Analysis' accreditation is geared toward technical software testing professionals. The Test Management certification is more strategic in nature, whereas the other one is more tactical - focusing on such things as analysing requirements, designing test cases, and creating test scripts. To be as well-rounded as possible, candidates should consider earning both certifications.


To summarize, the required ISEB certification order is Foundation, Intermediate, and then either of the Practitioner (Test Management or Test Analysis) accreditations.

Each certification requires passing an exam (pass mark is either 60% or 65%, depending on the specific exam). The Foundation and Intermediate exams are 1 hour, and the two Practitioner levels are 2 hour exams.

To prepare for each exam, you can either attend a multi-day instructor led course, or purchase a self-study training package. Unless you have money to burn, a top-notch self study package is usually a better choice, as the content is typically equivalent to that of an instructor-led course, but the price tag is always far less.

About has been a leading provider of cost-effective, 100% guaranteed self-study training packages for a variety of ISEB, ISTQB-CTFL, and ASTQB certification exams since 2001. Our self-study packages include detailed study guides, practice exams, diagrams, audio tutorials, double-sided flashcards, worksheets, and everything else you will need to pass your certification exam with confidence.

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