ISTQB Advanced Level Overview

Published: 12th February 2010
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In today's economy, it is critical to leverage every possible advantage at your disposal. For those in the software testing profession, becoming ISTQB certified is definitely one way to achieve differentiation and stand out from the crowd.

Overview of the ISTQB Certification Process

ISTQB stands for "International Software Testing Qualifications Board," and this accreditation is recognized in 38 countries. It is also known as ASTQB in the US.

The ISTQB certification process starts with the ISTQB Foundation level. Also known as CTFL (certified tester foundation level), this level lays the groundwork, and is the prerequisite, for all other levels. You must pass this exam first before attempting any other ISTQB certification exam.

Having your CTFL certification alone will definitely help set you apart, but you can differentiate yourself even more by progressing to the ISTQB Advanced level certification. Whereas the ISTQB Foundation level focuses on theory, the Advanced level focuses on the practical application of this theory. Before you can take the Advanced level exam, you must already have your ISTQB Foundation level certification, as well as at least 2 years of practical experience.

ISTQB Advanced Level Modules

The Advanced level is split into 3 modules: test analyst, technical test analyst, and test manager. Each module handles a different aspect of software testing. For example, the test analyst module is concerned with reviews, black box techniques, process flows, and similar things. Technical test analyst focuses on unit tests, testing tools, and white box tactics, among other things. Finally, the test manager module focuses on the overall preparation, planning and management of various testing processes.

Taking Your Advanced Level Exams

There are 3 different exams to pass - one for each module. Each exam costs $200, and you will generally have the choice of either taking the exam at a physical location, or online. You must take each one separately. They are multiple-choice exams, and you'll have 3 hours to finish each one.

The pass mark is 65%, and you will receive an official certificate for every passed exam. The certificate received will display the specific module of the passed exam...only when all 3 exams are passed will you receive the coveted full Advanced Level certificate.

You must prepare for each exam by studying and learning the information contained within an official ISTQB syllabus - one for each module. The combined ISTQB Advanced syllabus contains 114 pages at the time of this writing, and was last updated in October 2007.

There are two primary ways to learn the required information: attend a multi-day instructor-led course, or purchase self-study training courses. Obviously, attending an instructor-led course is the more expensive option.


If you have at least 2 years of practical software testing experience, you should strongly consider becoming ISTQB certified. The first level is ISTQB Foundation / CTFL, and the next level encompasses the 3 ISTQB Advanced modules. It takes several weeks of study to prepare for each exam, not to mention the costs associated with the study materials as well as the exams themselves. However, consider it an investment of time and money, one that will surely pay career dividends for years to come.

About has been a leading provider of cost-effective 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, revision papers, premium access to our support forum, and everything else you will need to pass your certification exam with confidence. Best of all, all of our training courses come with an ironclad, 100% guarantee - you will pass your exam, or get your money back.

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