Expert Level in a Nutshell

Why Expert?

The Expert Level extends the knowledge and experience obtained at the Advanced Level by providing in-depth, practically-oriented certifications in a range of different testing subjects. With Expert Level ISTQB® offers career paths for testers with clearly defined business outcomes.

Expert Level Modules

The Expert Level currently has two modules

Further modules will be added in the future.

Foundation Level

Clear Business Outcomes

Each Expert Level module has clear business outcomes. These provide information to businesses concerning the expectations of an expert in a particular subject. The business outcomes map to the individual Learning Objectives in a particular module.

Achieving Expert Level

Criteria are set to ensure good and consistent quality of the Expert Level.

To obtain Expert Level certification, candidates must have:

  • the Foundation Certificate
  • an Advanced Certificate depending on the Expert Module desired
  • passed the Expert Level Exam
  • at least 5 years of practical testing experience
  • at least 2 years of industry experience in the specific Expert Level topic

Note that the experience criteria may also be attained after taking the exam. It is recommended, however, that the candidate has gained this practical experience before taking the exam. If a non-public exam is to be taken, completion of Expert Level course is mandatory.

What skills does an Expert Level individual have?

An expert is a person with the special skills and knowledge representing mastery of a particular testing subject. Being a testing expert means possessing and displaying special skills and knowledge derived from training and experience and being able to apply that knowledge in real-life situations.

A testing expert is one that combines a broad understanding of testing in general with an in-depth understanding in a special test area. An in-depth understanding means sufficient knowledge of testing theory and practice to be able to influence the direction that an organization and/or project takes when creating, implementing and executing testing activities related to the special area.

Expert Level - Content

Expert Level

The Expert Level has a multi-module structure. To ensure a consistent development of skills and expertise, subjects are generally derived from the ISTQB® Advanced Level syllabi, but are not limited to this. The required Advanced Level certification for a particular Expert Level module are explicitly stated so that clear career paths can be identified.

An Expert Level course typically covers at least five days of class training.

Improving the Testing Process

Contents of the Syllabus

The syllabus starts with an introduction to the fundamental issues concerning improvement to the testing process. Basic questions like "why improve testing?" and "what can be improved?" are considered and the different ways that stakeholder can view quality are described.

There are a number of different approaches which can be applied to improve the test process; overviews of these approaches are provided.

Model-based improvement is considered in depth by first examining fundamental aspects of using models and then describing and comparing a number of well known test improvement models of various types.

Analytical approaches for improving the testing process, such as causal analysis, are covered in as much details as the model-based approaches. Metrics play a significant role in analytical approaches so a number of these are covered, together with an approach for using metrics effectively e.g., the GQM-approach.

An expert in this field will be expected to select the right approach for a given situation. The factors to consider are covered and the relative benefits of each approach are compared.

The task of improving test process is itself a process which can be described in several steps including the setting of scope and objectives for improvement, assessing the current situation, analyzing results, performing solution analysis, suggesting improvements and priorities, creating an improvement plan, implementing the plan and gaining knowledge from each improvement cycle. The syllabus details each of these steps according to a standard process definition.

Different organization forms for implementing improvements to the testing process are covered, including the impact of offshoring on those organizations. The typical roles to be found in these organizations are described and the wide range of different skills required for effectively performing those roles are detailed.

Management of change is essential in rolling out improvements to the test process into projects and organizations. In particular, the human factos in the change management process are covered in the syllabus. A wide range of different skills is covered including those needed for effective interviewing and for performing analysis.

The syllabus concludes with a detailed consideration of critical success factors.

The Improving the Testing Process syllabus can be divided into two parts:

  • Assessing Test Processes

    Assessing Test Processes
  • Implementing Test Process Improvement

    Implementing Test Process Improvement

  • Business Outcomes

    The expert test process improver is able to perform each of the following tasks:

    • Lead programs for improving the testing process within an organization or project and can identify and manage critical success factors
    • Take appropriate business-driven decisions on how to approach improvement to the test process
    • Assess the current status of a test process, propose step-wise improvements and show how these are linked to achieving business goals
    • Set up a strategic policy for improving the testing process and implement that policy
    • Analyze specific problems with the test process and propose effective solutions
    • Create a test improvement plan which meets business objectives
    • Develop organizationals concepts for improvement of the test process which include required roles, skills and organizational structure
    • Establish a standard process for implementing improvement to the test process within an organization
    • Manage the introduction of changes to the test process, including co-operation with the sponsors of improvements
    • Understand and effectively manage the human issues associated with assessing the test process and implementing necessary changes

    Test Management

    Contents of the Syllabus

    The syllabus starts by considering the purpose of testing or the test mission, and the relation between the test policy, the test strategy and the test objectives. Test prioritization and various effort allocation techniques, including risk-based are considered in depth. The expert test manager is considered to be able to utilize and adapt all available methods to define and meet testing objectives. Furthermore, an expert test manager is expected to be able to design a specific method or approach to meet those objectives and to gain and maintain early management commitment.

    Managing the test team and managing testing throughout the organization are addressed extensively and special attention is given to the various project management tasks that would apply at the expert test management level. The test manager's role in performing risk management (risk assessment workshops and risk mitigation management), reviews, assessments, quality gate evaluation, quality assurance and audits are covered in detail. How to report test results and how to interpret results by evaluation of exit criteria is elaborated upon. The metrics are described which are presented in a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) dashboard and play a crucial role in the management of the test process.

    The expert test manager is expected to select or create, evaluate and improve the most appropriate approach for a given situation, which implies that several right approaches can occur simultaneously, of which no individual approach stands out significantly. It is up to the expert test manager to find a suitable approach or combination of approaches which fit the organization in order to meet or exceed the given objectives.

    Different ways to organize testing as well as different types of projects for test management, including vendor management, are covered. Typical test management topics such as incident management, test project evaluation and tools for reporting and test management are addressed in depth.

    The syllabus concludes with an overview of special test management considerations for different domains and project factors.

    The Test Management syllabus can be divided into three parts:

    • Strategic Management

      Strategic Management
    • Operational Test Management

      Operational Test Management
    • Managing the Test Team

      Managing the Test Team

    Business Outcomes

    The expert test manager is able to perform each of the following tasks:

    • Lead the test management within an organization, project or program to identify and manage critical success factors with management commitment at CEO/Board level
    • Take appropriate business-driven decisions on a test management strategy and implement organization wide commitment and compliance based on quality KPIs
    • Assess the current status of the test management, propose step-wise improvements and show how these are linked to achieving business goals within the organizational context of test management (organization or project/program)
    • Set up a strategic policy for improving the test management and the testing, and implement that policy in an organization
    • Analyze specific problems with the test management and its alignment with other roles or management areas in the project/organization, and propose effective solutions
    • Create a master test plan with matching governance dashboard to meet or exceed the business objectives of the organization or a project/program
    • Develop innovative concepts for test management (project) organizations which include required roles, skills, methodologies (tools) and organizational structure
    • Establish a standard process for implementing test management in an organization (project/program) with standardized delivery based on quality KPIs
    • Lead an organization to improve the test management process and manage the introduction of changes
    • Understand and effectively manage the human issues associated with test-project management and implement necessary changes

    Expert Level exam structure and training

    A certification scheme at Expert Level must meet the expectations and perceptions of its stakeholders and has to be seen to be truly "expert". A score above 65% is required to pass.

    An expert must not only be able to show knowledge, but also in depth practical skills; as a consequence an exam only using multiple choice questions is not preferred. The exam therefore consists of two parts:

    • Part 1: Multiple-Choice
    • Part 2: Essay

    For more details on exam structure please refer to the ISTQB® Expert Level Exam Structure and Rules document

    Certificate Extension

    An Expert Level certificate is valid for 5 years

    The Certification Extension Program is published by ISTQB®

    Accredited training courses

    For the training we aim several objectives, namely:

    • Higher level Learning Objectives in focus
    • Emphasis is on practical work (at least 50% of the course time is spent on practical exercise and discussions)
    • In-depth consideration of subjects introduced at advanced levels
    • Goal: Mastery of the subject

    Exercises in the Workplace

    Several learning objectives are identified in each syllabus which may be achieved in the workplace. Training Providers agree these exercises with participants before they are performed and must ensure that they have been completed satisfactorily. This concept allows training courses to be split into separate parts with workplace exercises in between and enables maximum practical benefit from the training.

    Accredited training providers

    An Expert Level certificate is valid for 5 years

    Accredited training courses information can be obtained via the ISTQB® Member Boards and ISTQB® Accredited Training Providers.