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2 minute read - Career Advice Certification

My notes on how to study for ISEB foundation

Feb 6, 2008

While trawling through my hard drive on a deletion frenzy, I found my old notes on what I did to pass the ISEB foundation exam. Bear in mind that I made these notes in 2003 and the ISEB syllabus has moved on since. But I have updated all the links and someone might find my updated notes useful.

Hints and tips

  • The questions get written from the syllabus - know the syllabus
  • The definitions come from the glossary - forget what you think you know if you want to pass - learn the definitions in the glossary
  • The techniques come from the BS7925, read and understand this
  • At the end of your study, if you feel like doing something adventurous then read the practitioner syllabus for extra depth


  • Study the syllabus in conjunction with the Glossary of terms used in software testing and the BS7925 standard
  • Build a mind map or set of study notes for the syllabus to summarise what you think important
  • Check your understanding and notes against the definitions in the glossary and the standards
  • Learn some memory techniques and general exam techniques. TheĀ  multiple choice foundation exam tests your memory skills rather than your testing skills.

Optional with Cost

  • From the Recommended Texts: Hetzel reads at about the right level; Beizer, although admirably included in the list should count as a bit more advanced than the foundation requires (but do read it for your own education and edification); I use Roper as a good summary of test techniques at about the foundation level
  • Get the sample paper from ISEB and try it out

Up to Date Notes

  • The BCS web page recommends that you take a course to learn this stuff - frankly I think this massive overkill for a 40 question multiple choice test. Apparently “the overall public exam pass rates are notably lower than for candidates who have attended an accredited training course”, but I could not find those stats on the ISEB site. Given the cost of a training course, you could probably sit the foundation exam 6 or 7 times on your own and still not have paid the same as a course would have cost.
  • The massive BCS Reading List seems designed to intimidate you into taking a course or grabbing the “An ISEB Foundation Course”
  • Where did this Intermediate course come from! Cue a post for a later date.