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5 Top Study Tips for an ISTQB Foundation Exam

We know sitting a formal exam can be daunting and we’ll do everything in our power to help you pass your exam however, if you’re feeling nervous then there are steps you can take to increase your chances of being successful.

1. Syllabus

The first step is easy, read the syllabus. You can download the foundation level syllabus from the official ISTQB website, found here. While you’re reading through the syllabus make sure you’re interacting with it, otherwise you probably won't be absorbing it. This means using techniques to help you learn the material that you’re reading, and these methods are different for everyone. We did a quick poll around the team, to see what our favourites are and came up with a little list to give you inspiration:

  • Creating revision cards

  • Highlighting keywords and phrases

  • Summing up every paragraph in a sentence or two

  • Creating a PowerPoint slide with key points

  • Answering mock exam questions

Student creating mindmaps and highlighting key phrases

2. Keywords

The ISTQB CTFL exam is keyword heavy. This means that remembering the keywords is an important aspect of preparing to sit the exam. In the syllabus the keywords are listed at the start of each chapter. Go through these and make sure you can describe them. Use the learning methods listed above to help you with this, if you’re struggling to remember some of them.

3. Exam Structure

Some of the chapters in the syllabus are worth more marks in your exam, for example Chapter 4 is worth the most, with 11 points. This means you can focus your revision on the chapters which are worth more, saving you time, and ensuring that you’re confident on the chapters which are most beneficial to helping you pass the exam. You can download the official Exam Structure and Rules PDF here.

4. Mock Exam Questions

One of the most useful ways to prepare for the exam is to familiarise yourself with the types of questions that you might encounter. This gives you a chance to see how questions are worded but also the types of questions that might crop up about a given topic. There are official mock exams and plenty of free online resources to help you with this.

5. Attend a Course

By attending an accredited course, you increase your chance of successfully passing the ISTQB CTFL exam. Not only does this give you the opportunity to ask questions and clarify the topics you're finding difficult, it's also a great way of ‘topping up’ your knowledge even if you're feeling confident.