At the end of the last year I started to prepare myself for the Certified Tester Advanced Level – Test Manger (CTAL-TM) exam. Passing this exam results in receiving a CTAL-TM certificate. Below, I will present the most useful information, which helped me to pass this exam.
Few remarks and useful information about the exam
To take the Advanced Level exams, you must hold a Foundation Level Certificate, which has to be proven by the certificate scan while registering for the exam to the exam. ISTQB® also recommends practical experience before taking the exam. There are three different exam and certification modules:
- Test Manager
- Test Analyst
- Technical Test Analyst
I’ve chosen the path of Test Manager, so I will try to describe you my preparations for it. Great idea to start learning is to get familiar with the information from ISTQB pages: http://www.istqb.org/ or http://istqb.org.pl/ (Polish version). Those sites provide some useful information regarding examination form and show guidelines which will help you to pass. You must score at least 65% to pass every Advanced Level exam. For Test Manager you have 65 multiple-choice questions and the time limit is 225 minutes (for candidates taking exams in English, which isn’t their native language). For each question you can score 1, 2 or 3 points, depending on the level of difficulty. Each question is classified according to the cognitive level, the K-level (also known as level of knowledge). The Advanced exams cover 3 different K-levels: Understand (K2), Apply (K3) and Analyze (K4). Good information is that incorrect, multiple or lack of response scores zero points. During the exam only plain paper and simple non-programmable calculators are allowed, but when you have electronic exam you have access to calculator on the exam platform. All candidates taking exams not in their native language can use a paper dictionary, which can be very useful. It is worth mentioning that you have to return all notes and papers before leaving an exam room so don’t waste your time taking notes from questions.
- „Advanced Level Syllabus (2012) Test Manager” – from istqb.org page. It should be read many times because it is the minimum necessary knowledge in a nutshell. It is a good idea to read it first in native language to understand every chapter clearly.
- „Standard glossary of terms used in Software Testing” – I recommend studying bilingual version of this document.
- Syllabus Foundation – good read as a reminder.
- Book: „Advanced Software Testing – Vol. 2: Guide to the ISTQB® Advanced Certification as an Advanced Test Manager, 2nd ed.”, Rex Black (2014), Rocky Nook – I recommend you to read the book and focus on practical exercises and case studies. It is important to do this after reading the syllabus, which will allow you to fully understand the tasks and descriptions.
Also, I recommend working with:
- Sample exam in English – to fully understand the authors’ way of thinking. You can find it here: http://www.istqb.org/downloads/viewcategory/7.html. It is worth reading because it shows the range of the necessary information and also allows for „the final workout” before the exam.
- It is worth looking at the examples in the book (mainly in terms of syllabus).
- Practical tests on the platform are not worth doing, because they are based on questions from the Foundation level, which can be found on many pages in the Internet.
While registering for the exam you need to select preferred examination centre and exam date. Then, fill in the CTAL-TM admission form, scan your Foundation Level certificate and your ID card (to get more time during the exam). After the purchase you will have access to e-learning platform (http://edu.ittraining.pl/egzamin/ISTQB_Advanced_Level_Test_Manager) with many useful documents about testing, and few exemplary exams created by Test Competence.
If you have other helpful tips, share it in comments.