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3 Best ISTQB Courses for Testers

best Istqb course

If you are interested in an ISTQB course but have no idea what’s best for you, you are in the right place. I am going to recommend my best certifications in the ISTQB portfolio, let me explain…

What is the best Istqb course? For beginners the Certified Testing Foundation Level is ideal. For Test managers, The Advanced Level Test Managers certification is ideal. And finally, for Agile, The foundation level Agile certification is best.

Now that you know what courses I recommend, let me go on to explain how the ISTQB portfolio of courses is structured, the different streams they have, and what that even means in simple terms and more.

I remember going for a walk one lunchtime, with a tasty subway sandwich in hand. As I sat on the park bench reflecting on life and planning for my weekend, it made me appreciate life and take in a breath of fresh summertime air. However, it then dawned on me, that not everything is a walk in the park.

Same as choosing the best ISTQB course, nothing is always that straight forward, especially when you have multiple options. For that reason, let me explain now, how the courses are structured to help you.

How Are ISTQB Courses Structured?

ISTQB courses are structured based on different levels. In total there are three different levels:

  • Foundation
  • Advanced
  • Expert

Ultimately all of these levels higher levels are only possible if you have first done the foundation first.

In addition to these levels, they have another dimension which is called “Streams”.

These streams are grouped as follows:

  • Agile
  • Specialist
  • Core

What does each of these streams actually mean?

As discussed in the previous section there are three different streams. Let me explain…


The core stream is based on the original ISTQB core fundamentals. These are applicable across all of the ISTQB certifications. Hence the reason why it is important to do the core foundation course before moving on to any other levels.


As the title of this Stream suggests it Focuses particularly on Agile. As software testing evolves, agile is becoming a critical part of software development and testing. So this Agile stream focuses primarily on agile practices.


The specialist stream focuses on specific approaches or testing activities such as mobile, automation, pharmaceutical or even medical devices based testing.

Are there any prerequisites required for these courses?

Yes, across all of these certifications. The foundation core is an absolute must and cannot be skipped.

In addition to this, any advanced level certification can only be considered if the foundation level is done first. And as you may expect, any expert level will require that the advanced is done.

So what is the best ISTQB course?

In this section, I’m going to recommend what I believe to be the best ISTQB course. However, with so many different levels and streams, your best choice largely depends on what level you are at in your career.

Or, what qualifications you have. For example, if you already have a CTFL, then my recommendation for this course is obviously not applicable to you.

Therefore my recommendations are based on a selection of a few different skill levels. In particular:

  • Beginners – with little to no experience in testing.
  • Test managers
  • Agile

Best ISTQB course for beginners

The best ISTQB course for beginners is definitely the certified tester Foundation level (CTFL). This is the prerequisite for other levels if you want to progress.

This course is aimed at anyone that is actually a tester that hasn’t been formally certified. Alternatively people interested in getting into the industry that has not had any experience.

For example, this could include:

  • Test analysts
  • UAT testers
  • Project Managers with an interest in testing
  • The list goes on…

It covers a number of different core modules including the fundamentals of testing. Such as, “what is testing?”. “Why do we test”? etc.

Also covers test techniques such as:

  • Black box testing
  • Whitebox testing

Other areas include Software Development Life-cycle (SDLC).

Best ISTQB course for Test Managers (or Aspiring Managers)

The advanced level test manager certification is for testers that have reached an advanced level in testing. They are either working as a Test Manager and require a certificate for their CV or career progression.

Alternatively, they are aspiring test managers that want to get to test manager level, but have adequate experience.

It is also helpful for advanced level IT workers that wish to get a better understanding of the requirements of a test manager.

This course covers a deep understanding of test planning, estimation and it also goes into people skills. People skills, in particular, is something that some courses tend to overlook.

This includes motivating staff, how to get the best out of your team, etc.

Prerequisites for this course is a CTFL and you also require a certain amount of industry experience to be eligible for the certification.

Once you have completed this certification you can then move on to other levels such as the expert level certifications.

The best ISTQB certification for agile

The foundation level agile certification is one of the newer offerings. There is often confusion about Agile. In particular, how it should be applied and used in anger during a software project.

In my experience of working with agile, I find that I have never seen Agile implemented the way across any two companies.

The agile certification is an attempt to formalize the understanding of agile and to create a solid foundation of the core concepts and practices.

What does this certification cover?

It covers such topics as the fundamentals of agile. Such as what agile is, how it is handled in a software testing environment, etc.  It also goes into detail about the tools that can be used within agile and more.

The prerequisites for this course is the CTFL, which is required across all of the certifications as discussed earlier.

The next levels after this particular certification are currently in development. This includes plans to release an advanced level technical agile tester certification which will be a perfect add-on to this.

Related questions:

How long does it take to get an ISTQB? For the CTFL exam, it will typically be 60 minutes. However, for non-English speaking countries, such as in French-speaking parts of Canada, it is extended to 75 minutes.

The course is structured into 40 multiple choice questions. Each question scoring one point. To pass the exam you need to get at least 65% right. Which means you have to get 26 out of 40 to get a passing mark.

Is the ISTQB certification useful? Yes, in my opinion. It is useful for some people, depending on what area of work you are in. If you are a tester who is just starting out, this certification is good. And will be a booster on your CV. This can help you to get more recognition and jobs in the future.

However I would say, the certification does not necessarily make you a good tester. It just proves that you understand the fundamentals of testing and what is required in the industry.

I remember turning up for football training as a young lad. I was amazed to see one of the guys on the team had the brightest, most expensive football boots on.

I knew they were expensive and he let everyone know it. After I saw him get tackled and embarrassed for the third time in a row, it reminded me that just having the gear, does not mean you have all the ideas. It’s the experience and skill that matters, not the cost of your boots.

Similar to testing, you can take the best ISTQB course.  However, real life test execution, office politics, and the real world of testing is a whole new kettle of fish. This can only be mastered with experience, not by sitting an expensive exam.

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