Five Test Automation Mistakes to Avoid - Must watch for testers!

How to be successful QA leader? - Future leaders, QA Leads and Managers


Wednesday, March 30, 2016


10:51:00 AM Posted by Prashant Hegde 1 comment

TestProject conducted a survey to understand the current test automation trends and tools used among software testing professionals. The survey was conducted among 644 stakeholders that had direct influence on the test automation procedures in their organizations.

The key findings were:
  • Test automation around the world changed dramatically during the past years and keep shaping!
  • More organizations use more than a single test automation solution, in some cases 3-4 tools in parallel.
  • Open source tools became very popular, leaving 3rd party tools far behind, 88% of “1- 100” employees organizations are using open source tools.
  • Test automation became practically a standard used in the majority (92%) of the organizations that were surveyed.

Monday, March 7, 2016


3:19:00 AM Posted by Prashant Hegde 96 comments

Certifications help us expand our knowledge base beyond that of our everyday tasks. I take online certifications, tests, and courses when I get spare time. I do not consider getting certified as an achievement but it is a great aid for learning and self-assessment. 
ISTQB is the worldwide leader in the certification of competencies in software testing. ISTQB certifications are recognized globally with their presence in more than 100 countries. The syllabus for the certification is developed and reviewed by leading testing professionals from academia and industry. 

I am part of a google group called Software Testing where I see thousands of group members who constantly keep asking how to clear the exams. Several keep asking for question paper dumps. So I thought of sharing my strategy and learning with all the ISTQB aspirants.


As a leader, I constantly keep thinking of how I can grow my team's skills. The idea of getting certified from ISTQB hit me. I thought that getting certified would demonstrate the competency of the QA team in their profession.  Within no time I scheduled a meeting with my team. They were excited by the idea and agreed without a second thought. Our director Mr.Vinay Chandra encouraged me to go ahead and was more than happy to sponsor the certifications.

Our QA team works in an agile environment with aggressive deadlines. So the challenge was to figure out how to accomplish this goal in our busy schedules, without harming our projects task. I thought of arranging corporate training on a weekend to get this done. Guess what? The training cost for a 2-day session was quoted close to 1,00,000 INR which is way too expensive! Also one cannot grasp all the concepts in the syllabus within a couple of days.

We decided to go for ISTQB certifications by self-study. I was a little skeptical initially if we could do it without any help but I was confident that we could do it if we plan well. The first thing I did was to register for ISTQB corporate exam and scheduled it after 3 months. This was necessary to make everyone serious about the exams.

I engaged the team in activities that helped them in preparation. I conducted a weekly presentation where a few of the team members would present chapter-wise topics from the ISTQB syllabus. I conducted chapter wise mock tests after completion of presentations.  The team was busy on the weekends and dedicated their time to study as they had to prepare for chapter-wise mock tests. The person who scored the least had to prepare and present the concepts in the next chapter to the team. This ensured that everyone in the team is preparing well as we advanced to the exam date (everyone prepared well at-least to avoid giving presentations ;). The weekly presentation sessions also helped many to overcome their stage-fear and improve their communication skills.

Everyone was a little nervous on the day of the exam. 

It took about 2 months by the time we completed the syllabus. We had planned in a way that we got sufficient time to revise. I conducted 3-4 mock tests of the entire syllabus. By this time the team was well prepared and knew how to manage time in the real exam. The mock tests boosted their confidence and we were all set for the exams. 

My team cleared the certification with flying colors. I secured 88 percent in the exams.

I hope this story motivates you to clear the certifications. Below are a few tips from my experience that will help you clear the examination:


Foundation of Software Testing: ISTQB Certification” by Rex Black, Dorothy Graham is the recommended textbook. You need not have to read any other textbook. 


Buy now

ISTQB syllabus is your bible
. The textbook explains every concept in detail with elaborate examples. The ISTQB syllabus is like notes made by summarizing the textbook. You might not understand several concepts if you directly read the syllabus. So read the textbook first and then the syllabus.

Do go through the testing GLOSSARY. There are several terminologies used in the textbook and syllabus which requires you to go through the glossary.


Several ISTQB aspirants are misled with the concept that they can clear the exam just by solving a few dumps that are available online without any preparations.

SOLVE the questions that are available online. They help you to understand the nature of questions that will appear in the exam, it might also boost your confidence a bit but NEVER rely only on question paper dumps! You cannot clear the exams by only solving the question dumps. There are several dumps available online with incorrect answers which might confuse you. 

Solve the questions in the textbook. The textbook has questions after every chapter. Do not forget to solve them. These questions are much more useful than the questions that are in the dumps. You can also solve the sample questions provided by several ISTQB boards.


Foundation Level exam can be taken online or you can opt for a written exam. The test has 40 multiple-choice questions. The passing percentage is 65%. You need 26 marks to get through the exam. The good part is there is no negative marking for incorrect answers.

Understand the distribution of questions per cognitive level. Concentrate on K1 questions from where you get 50% of the questions in your exams. K1 questions are straight forward and easier to answer than questions of other cognitive levels. Prepare in such a way that you never make a mistake in answering a K1 question, it greatly increases your chance of clearing the ISTQB exam.

Understand how the questions are distributed per chapter from the diagram below. You can focus your efforts on more important chapters and not waste your time on the chapters from which you might get the only couple of questions. I do not mean that you skip these chapters but focus on the chapters with from where you get more number of questions. Do not skip any chapter if you want to clear ISTQB exams.The table below also helps you a
nalyze the questions per cognitive level for every chapter.

Click here for more details on the ISTQB exam structure.


Write notes and record important ideas from your textbook. Writing is a will not only help you learn more effectively, but it will also help you revise all the concepts. Your brain has three kinds of memory cells: sound, sight, and feel. The best kind of learning occurs when you use all three at the same time. When writing notes you see the words, you say them in your mind and you are using your movement senses as you write them down on the paper.

People only remember about 20% of the information they read after 24 hours. So revision is the key to make sure that what you read does not slip away. Instead of highlighting or underlining textbooks you can:

· Produce mind maps
· Recall what you have just read and test yourself.

Form a study group and practice teaching your learning with your group. Roman philosopher Seneca said, “While we teach, we learn”. Teaching others is a good way to understand and therefore you remember your notes. You learn better, recall better when you teach someone whatever you have learned.


Read the question twice before you mark the answers. Keep your eyes open for the words like NOT, NEVER in the questions else there is a chance that you may lose marks for simple questions. The same applies to the options. Several questions asked in the ISTQB certification are presented in such a way that all the options look similar.


Remember that every question carries only 1 mark. If you are unable to solve any particular problem don't waste too much time. You can keep that problem aside and try to solve it after completing more straight forward and easy questions. There is absolutely no reason to answer the questions in the order they are printed in the exam. I would recommend doing the easiest ones first.


For online exams, you are provided with a backup sheet. You need to map the answers in this sheet so that you have a backup of the answers in the case of technical issues. Many candidates do not fill up this sheet. Please remember to mark the answers in the backup sheet, it's a lifesaver. In my case, when I submitted my answers there was an issue with internet connectivity and BOOM!

I had to mark all the answers again in 10 mins. If I did not map my answers in the backup sheet then I would be in huge trouble. Do not panic if the same happens to you, be calm and mark the answers by referring the backup sheet and verify that you marked right answers again before you 'submit'.


I had created chapter-wise questions for my team while preparing for ISTQB exams. I want to share them with all the ISTQB aspirants. Just taking these tests is not enough to clear the exams, However, they will help you with your preparations if you use them in the right way. Take these tests after you complete reading the textbook, syllabus, and glossary of each chapter and use it to assess yourself.

I have created an android app called "ISTQB Test Mentor" which will help you to access your preparation:

Scan this QR code to download

There are 20 questions for each chapter and the time limit is 30 minutes. If you score more than 15 points in these tests, consider that you have prepared well. ISTQB Test mentor" app also has awesome features like a glossary, mock exams, and useful links to help your preparation.

I hope this helps. Feel free to comment and share your success stories.

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