Growing My Business, Living Life

Continuing To Build Knowledge

I took the ISTQB-ISEB Certified Tester Foundation Level exam on 20th April 2013.

My Technique

Back then, I revised for the exam by reading the (second edition) book through twice making notes the second time through. And as I was commuting four hours a day (true facts!), I had a set of practice tests that I would work on every day on the way back from work once I had finished that first read through.

All my work paid off and I passed the exam first time. Success!

The Next Step

Once I had completed it, I was eager to move on and study for the next exam, the Advanced level. But, as I had only just passed (I got 70%) using the book and practising exams papers, I went to my then boss and I asked if the company that I was working at at the time would fund me on the course.

Needless to say, that this never happened and I never gained any of the Advanced ISTQB qualifications. I really regret not trying to do this on my own at the time because all the material was so fresh in my head from the Foundation course. It would’ve been very easy to roll into studying for the next qualification.

There were two things that held me back. The first was fact that the company I worked for wouldn’t or couldn’t pay to put me on the course. I couldn’t afford to do it without them unfortunately. I learned this lesson back then:

Don’t let others hinder your progress. If you get a no for something that you want to do (especially if it’ll improve your knowledge), find out how to do it without them! 

Another thing that I held me back was that I kept thinking that I had “only just” passed the exam studying by myself. So I jumped to the conclusion that I needed the course. The same process probably wouldn’t work. I also got told that the advanced exams were for those with three years software testing experience or more and at the time I only had one (I failed to count my four years testing in the games industry!). And, that over 50% of people that take this exam fail. So with all of that and not being funded for the course, I stopped pursuing this idea.

And Now…

It’s now over 6 years later. I have less time being a mum that works full-time, with a husband, and who runs her own business. But, I’ve always come back to this certification time and time again. So recently, I found the Test Manager and Technical Test Analyst books on Amazon a lot cheaper than usual. I made the decision to buy them with the intention of sitting the exam for at least the Technical Test Analyst and reading through the content of the Test Manager book.

I’ve realised that I have grown a lot more as a person in these last six years. My mindset is definitely more open to thinking around problems. I’m also a lot more confident in my ability to try things that others may be telling me that “I can’t do” or that others may not be doing so that maybe I shouldn’t be either. My salary had increased from back then so I can afford to put myself through exams even if the company I work for can’t or won’t help me progress.

But, I’ve noticed a bad habit that I gotten into lately. I’ve started (or are looking to start) a lot of things and not finished them 🙁

This is a list of the books and courses:

There are actually more things but these were the things that I thought were highest priority. I set about assigning each:

  • A monetary value of the cost for each one (this was just to highlight how much it would be in case I had two that I considered the same priority)
  • I looked at how far I had progressed through each so far
  • The urgency of each

I know the AWS certification course had a limit to my access, everything else was either already paid for, free or not yet started. So this became the first priority.

The rest we’re organised as follows:

  • AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification – 1
  • Codecademy JavaScript – 2
  • Unit Testing – 2
  • Technical Test Analyst Advanced Level – 4.1
  • Software Test Engineer’s Handbook – 4.2
  • Design Patterns – 5
  • Test Manger Advanced Level – 6

It actually felt good to sit back and look at this list. I now have a plan instead of jumping from one to the other not retaining or achieving anything. This should help me do both.

Breaking Down Limiting Beliefs

Last week, when I decided to take the exams, I thought about one of the limiting belief that held me back. It was the fact that I needed to go on a course in order to pass as I had “only just” passed before. But then I remembered, that I never did fully complete my study notes. I had booked the test before finishing my revision and without being sure that I would pass. So I got to the point where I hadn’t properly committed the final chapter to memory.

I had been going over the practice exams and was getting over the pass mark but because I was doing them so often, I pretty much knew the answers. The exams were getting to be an unreliable indicator of how well I was doing. And I was reluctant to push the exam back, so I took the exam without being confident I was ready. And, luckily, I passed. But what if I had studied that last chapter fully? What if I had a better assortment of tests to practice on and test my knowledge? Unlike back then, I now have the resources (both financial and physical thanks to the internet) to practice from an assortment of tests. And as for the exam, I think this time, I won’t book it until I’m ready to do it, definitely after my notes are all done!

I looked into the price of the classroom Technical Test Analyst course  and the course content for each. The cost for the Technical Test Analyst course was approximately £900+ and the online course was around £645+. None seemed to offer anything of additional value that I could see apart from having a tutor there to answer questions, entrance into the exam included and possibly (because my contact wasn’t sure) a practice exam paper. So with this in mind, I thought to myself that maybe I should give it a try and do the exam by myself. If I do it, it’ll save me hundreds of pounds but also, it’ll help me improve how I learn. That’s a skill that is more valuable than most things nowadays, especially in the tech industry.

Leveling Up

So, my plan is to achieve a certification every year for something that interests me. This will always keep me learning and set a good example for my daughter at the same time. Education doesn’t end after graduating, it starts there.

As per my list above, I’m going to first try this method with the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam and see how I do. This is a completely new field to me, but with the world moving to cloud technology and my current company using AWS services, it seems like a good idea to go for it.

Wish me luck!

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