Effective test approaches, efficient tool support, testing certification

Which Agile Tester qualification?

For experienced testing practitioners I would recommend the four-day ‘Certified Agile Tester’ (CAT) from iSQI®. There are however other shorter agile testing qualifications available offering Foundation Level style exercises and exams.

The ‘CAT as a testing certification Gold Standard’ article of April 2015 covered in some detail a comparison of learning objectives for these courses, together with the advantages of the CAT examination method and practical exercises. Therefore, these features of the CAT qualification are only summarised here when comparing and contrasting them with those of the other current agile tester qualifications offered by iSQI and the ISTQB®.

All three qualifications are classroom based. Both the ISTQB ‘Certified Tester Foundation Level – Agile Tester’ (CTFL-AT) and the iSQI ‘Certified Agile Essentials’ (CAE) are two-day courses as opposed to the four-day CAT course. CTFL-AT is the first Foundation Level extension available from the ISTQB, and it’s a prerequisite of sitting the CTFL-AT exam that candidates have already passed the Certified Tester Foundation Level (CTFL). Neither of the iSQI qualifications have prerequisite requirements in terms of having passed other qualifications.

Whilst CAT is a more advanced qualification, with CTFL-AT and CAE being pitched more at a Foundation Level than CAT, it’s feasible for experienced testing practitioners to take a CAT course and exams without having done either of these other agile tester qualifications. I recommend that CAT delegates take the CTFL exam first, but this is not a prerequisite.

Both CTFL-AT and CAE have a significantly higher proportion of Learning Objectives than CTFL in terms of being able to ‘apply’ knowledge and skills. Accredited Training Providers need to include practical exercises as part of their courses in order for delegates to practice these skills. CAT also has similar exercises at this level, together with exercises for higher level Learning Objectives in terms of ‘analysing’, ‘evaluating’ and ‘synthesising’ aspects the training material. More on Learning Objectives and associated knowledge levels can be found in the February 2015 article ‘Knowledge, Skills and Certification’. Where CAT stands out in a class of its own is in the use of the afternoons of the course for highly practical team based exercises. For three of these afternoons delegates adapt Scrum to find seeded defects in a browser-based application.

CTFL-AT and CAE have Foundation Level style multiple choice exams where delegates answer forty questions in one hour. CAT has two exams, the first being a two hour practical exam where delegates adapt Scrum to find seeded defects in a browser-based application. The other exam is a two-and-a-half hour essay based exam where delegates answer questions based on ‘understanding’, ‘applying’, ‘analysing’, ‘evaluating’ and ‘synthesising’ aspects of the training material relating to the Learning Objectives. In addition to the two exams for CAT the course tutor undertakes a soft skills assessment of delegates throughout the four days of the course.

In conclusion, whilst all three qualifications are of value the iSQI Certified Agile Tester (CAT) is ‘first amongst equals’ due to the knowledge levels covered, the methods of examination used, and its unique focus on the practical application of agile methods.

5th June 2015