Overview of the ISEB and ISTQB Foundation Level Software Testing Certifications

Published: 24th November 2009
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One of the most common questions we receive here at UniversalExams.com deals with the relationship between the ISEB Foundation and ISTQB Foundation software testing certifications. The good news is that they both lead to the same certification at the Foundation level, so passing just one of these exams provides dual accreditation in both.

Overview of the ISEB and ISTQB

ISEB stands for "The Information Systems Examinations Board," and it is affiliated with the British Computer Society (BCS). The ISEB was created in 1990 as an outgrowth of the Systems Analysis Examinations Board (which itself was created in 1967). The ISTQB stands for "International Software Testing Qualifications Board," and it was launched in November 2002.

Both certifications are comparable at the Foundation level. The only difference is that ISEB is a UK-specific terminology whereas ISTQB is its international equivalent. Other than these geographically-driven semantic differences, the content is essentially the same. Therefore, both testing boards recently made the decision to align the certifications at the Foundation level, meaning that passing either Foundation-level exam provides dual certification in both. Both Foundation-level exams follow the same syllabus.

Beyond the ISEB / ISTQB Foundation Level

Once a student passes either Foundation level exam, a decision must be made regarding which "certification path" to pursue. For a UK-based software tester, the logical decision is to go down the ISEB accreditation route. In this scenario, the next level would be the ISEB Intermediate, followed by either the ISEB Practitioner in Test Analysis or the ISEB Practitioner in Test Management certifications.

Anyone outside of the UK should pursue the ISTQB path, as this certification has a global appeal and is formally recognised in 45 countries. There is only one additional ISTQB certification, and that is the ISTQB Advanced certification. The ISTQB Advanced level is equivalent to the ISEB Practitioner certifications (test analysis or test management). There is no certification akin to the ISEB Intermediate level for ISTQB certifications.

The ISTQB Advanced level exam is split into 3 modules: Technical Test Analyst, Test Analyst and Test Manager. Each has its own exam and accreditation. Students passing all 3 modules earn the highly desirable 'Advanced Level Testing Professional' certification.


Both the ISEB Foundation and ISTQB Foundation level exams are based on the same syllabus, and passing just one of these exams provides dual accreditation in both.

This equivalency ends after the Foundation level, which requires the student to choose the appropriate certification path. UK candidates should continue down the ISEB certification path and earn their ISEB Intermediate certification, whereas non-UK candidates should pursue the ISTQB Advanced level certification.

I hope this helps clear up some of the uncertainty around the alignment of the ISTQB and ISEB Foundation-level certifications. For additional information, please visit our website.

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