ISTQB® Certified Tester is the most widespread qualification scheme in the world, and the syllabi contents and glossary have become the de facto industry reference for the software testing profession. Take a look at our portfolio of certifications and explore what will support your career in testing.

Certification Levels and Streams


 The new ISTQB® product portfolio follows an approach characterized by :

    • Levels, that identify progressively increasing LOs
      • Foundation
      • Advanced
      • Expert
    • Streams, that identify clusters of certification modules:
      • Core 
      • Agile 
      • Specialist 

ISTQB® streams focus on:

    • Core – these modules correspond to the “historical” ISTQB® certifications and so they:
      • Cover software testing topic in a breadth- first, broad, horizontal way,
      • Are valid for any technology/ methodology/ application domain
      • Allow for a common understanding
    • Agile – these modules address testing practices specifically for the Agile SDLC
    • Specialist – these modules are new in the ISTQB® product portfolio and address specific topics in a vertical way, meaning that:
      • They are built using a drill down / deep-dive approach
      • They can address specific quality characteristics (e.g.: Usability; Security; Performance; etc.)
      • They can address technologies that involve specific test approaches (e.g.: model based testing; mobile testing; etc.)
      • They can also be related to specific test activities (e.g.: test automation; test metrics management; etc.)
      • They can also cluster testing know-how for  application domains that deserve or require a specific approach (e.g.: automotive; pharma & medical devices; gambling; etc.) 

In any stream, there may be modules that heavily rely on the content of the Core Foundation; for this reason they can be additional referred as “Extensions”.

Pre-conditions among certifications

Pre-conditions relate to certification exams and provide a natural progression through the ISTQB® Scheme which helps people pick the right certificate and informs them about what they need to know.

The ISTQB® Core Foundation is a pre-condition for any other certification.

Additional rules for ISTQB® pre-conditions are summarized in the following:

    • Foundation Core shall be required for Advanced Level Core
    • Foundation Core is the default pre-requisite for Foundation Level  Specialist certifications unless differently stated in the specific module; as of date, all Foundation Level Specialist certifications require Foundation Core as a pre-requisite
    • Any Advanced Level  Specialist or Expert Level Specialist module which is linked to a lower level Specialist  module shall require certification at the lower level.
    • Expert Level modules shall require certification at the corresponding Advanced Level .
    • Any Advanced Level  Specialist  module which is not linked to a lower level  Specialist module shall require the Foundations Core as a pre-condition.


What are K-levels?

A K-level, or Cognitive level, is used to classify learning objectives according to the revised taxonomy from Bloom [Anderson 2001]. ISTQB® uses this taxonomy to design its syllabi examinations.

Questions with different K-levels may be awarded with different pre-defined scores to reflect their cognitive level.

The Foundation and Advanced exams cover four different K-levels (K1 to K4):

  • K1 (Remember) = The candidate should remember or recognize a term or a concept.
  • K2 (Understand) = The candidate should select an explanation for a statement related to the question topic.
  • K3 (Apply) = The candidate should select the correct application of a concept or technique and apply it to a given context.
  • K4 (Analyze) = The candidate can separate information related to a procedure or technique into its constituent parts for better understanding and can distinguish between facts and inferences.

The Expert level exams include five different K-levels (K2 to K6), with the two additional higher K-levels:

  • K5 (Evaluate) = The candidate may make judgments based on criteria and standards. He detects inconsistencies or fallacies within a process or product, determines whether a process or product has internal consistency and detects the effectiveness of a procedure as it is being implemented.
  • K6 (Create) = The candidate puts elements together to form coherent or functional whole. Typical application is to reorganize elements into a new pattern or structure, devise a procedure for accomplishing some task or invent a product.



[Anderson 2001] Anderson, L. & Krathwohl, D. A. (2001) Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives New York: Longman


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