ISTQB Advanced Test Manager – is it worth to take the exam?

istqb advanced test manager

I can see those faces – Witko and ISTQB exams? This blog post is not sponsored by ISTQB 😀
I decided to step out of my agile comfort zone and dive into ISTQB knowledge once again. Not mentioning the fact, that my current company – Capgemini – is very supportive in this area.

What was the purpose?

I’ve chosen ISTQB Test Manager extension in order to see what is it about. I was very disappointed after Agile extension to ISTQB. I don’t see the value in exam’s content, I’d rather recommend you both Lisa Crispin & Janet Gregory’s books: Agile Testing and More Agile Testing. It is a definitely better way to invest your time in agile testing learning

In addition, I’ve heard stories from people I know, that the Test Manager exam is complicated and hard to pass. My new project demands from me more management – related knowledge and skills – so I decided to give it a go. I’ve started from the course and continued with the syllabus and another subject – related materials.
After a first glimpse on the exam’s structure, I had two thoughts – the exam is demanding and weirdly-scored, moreover, you need to prepare for the exam itself, apart from interesting exam-related materials.
There are 65 questions and 180 minutes of time. Questions are scored 1-3 points. Some questions are simple and require syllabus – based knowledge, but most of them are vast, contain a story and make you think. You get A4 page of description and then A4 page with … question? It is not helpful. the impression is that it just wants you to fail.

You need to gain 65% of 115 points to pass the exam. Piece of cake! :D:D

To be honest, I do appreciate the syllabus content, but let’s face the truth – it was written in 2012. In 2012 I was not even a software tester. In 2012 in Poland probably just a few companies used Agile – most of them were comfortably setting milestones and writing tons of documentation in their V models. That’s why I treat the exam itself as a historical material about “how the testing used to be like 7 years ago” and I think that’s ok. I just hope that people don’t treat it as the only way of truth in modern IT world 🙂
On the other hand, I find the exam’s materials really useful for my future project improvements. It gave me some insight to the areas of testing and management I was never thinking of.

How can I benefit from the exam?

We need to understand two things – learning to pass the exam is a completely different thing from learning in order to gain some test management – related knowledge.

In the end, I am sure that learning always is good. It’s a gym for your brain. I am a certified Test Manager now and I am very proud of myself.
Would I take the course and exam again? Yes.

Is is worth to take the dedicated course beforehead?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Find yourself a teacher with materials and experience. I have not taken a course before Foundation level, I don’t think it is necessary anyhow. In this case, though, I won’t feel comfortable without good set of hints from an experienced teacher. in my opinion, it is good to find one. As I said, passing the exam requires technique. The course was really helpful in it.

We just make ISTQB richer.

It’s true. 100% agree.
The certificate is expensive and it is not a must-have. So if you don’t need it for work – just don’t take it. It may become useful for your future recruitment processes or in some more formal projects.
There are organisations, customers, projects, which demand such “proofs” of tester’s knowledge and I do understand that. ISTQB is common and recognisable, that’s why it’s and desirable.

On the other hand, I benefit a lot from all the materials I went through.
I think they are valuable and can give you some hints and directions required in project work. If you don’t need the certificate – just download materials from ISTQB website and read them. Then you can decide if you find them useful or not.

What do you think about ISTQB certification? Do you have any?

Comment down below or stalk me on Twitter. Cheers!


  1. Daniel · January 17, 2019

    I have passed all three advanced exams and I find TM the most detached from reality among them. Sort of a bin where they put all topics that didn’t fit TA and TTA. What intrigues me is that when you look at the exam board there are people with years of experience sitting there. So maybe we are just biased with our agile testing experience and there are other ways to do the job. Industries like automotive, medical equipment manufacturers, aviation – they may be obliged by law to do software in more rigid ways. For example, I’ve seen places where implementing IEEE 829 test documentation standard (which I think was even removed from foundation level now) would be huge improvement. Anyway, here are my thoughts biased by projects I worked in:
    – It is hard to pass this exam without training but reading Advanced Software Testing – Vol. 2: Guide to the ISTQB Advanced Certification as an Advanced Test Manager helps a lot especially Rex Black is chair of TM exam 😉
    – During interviews I always ask people with this certificate (or course) what they think about it and I’ve never met a person who found it useful in any other way than boosting resume
    – Passing this exam requires good memory and perseverance so I consider it a proof of some inner qualities
    – I recommend reading syllabus ToC to see what angles of testing job it covers
    Daniel Kierecki

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kinga Witko · January 17, 2019

      Hi Daniel 🙂 Thank you for your comment. I do agree I am biased. Sometimes it is large obstacle 😦
      I need to go through other ISTQB matarials as well.
      Anyway, great to see you here!


  2. E beda · April 20, 2019

    Thank You for this history) I’ll try to pass exam this summer)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fady Mikhael · May 22, 2019

    Good read, studying it now and planning to take the exam next month


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