CSQA Certification Preparation Guide – Part 1

This is an article for all those who have always wondered what CSQA was about and wanted to know more about how to approach it or whether to approach it or not. We decided to provide all the information related to CSQA certification at one place so you can make an informed decision if this is something you want to take up or not.

These are practical tips from Swati S. She is certified CSQA test professional with more than 7 years of QA experience.

What is CSQA?

CSQA

CSQA (Certified Software Quality Analyst) is a software certification for Quality Analysts provided by QAI Global institute for IT professionals who prove their competence in the field of Quality principles and methodologies.

All the details about this certification like fee, scheduling, format, pre-requisites etc. are available at the following link:

Certified Software Quality Analyst: (CSQA)

CSTE or CSQA?

This is one of the questions every tester has in their mind. Which one to get certified as?

Basically, these are two different certifications aimed at two different targets of people in the entire quality field. One is not better than the other – they are just different.

CSTE (Certified Software Tester) is for testers. For those who are in the beginning of their careers in the field of Quality and want to acquaint and evaluate themselves in terms of their quality control skills, CSTE is for them.

CSQA is for a little more advanced group of the testing fraternity who are both into Quality control and quality assurance.

Typically, testers in their initial days of their career take the CSTE and once they progress to performing overall QA roles they take the CSQA. I hope this helps the readers determine which is more apt for them at the current time.

Why should you aspire to be a CSQA?

  1. As a part of the QA universe, you will have the best principles, practices and the code of conduct that will differentiate you from the other QAs. This vastly improves the whole QA-sphere.
  2. You will have more confidence in your day to day QA activities and can guide your peers better.
  3. You provide more value to your employer with the skills you learn by taking this certification.
  4. It is wonderful for your own career growth.

How does it work?

The CSQA certification consists of an educational program that tests the level of competence in the principles and practices of quality assurance and control in the Information Technology (IT) Profession. These principles and practices are defined by the Certification Board as the Common Body of Knowledge (CBOK).

The CBOK is divided into 10 Skill categories which cover everything you will need to master the QA world and emerge as a leader.  These 10 categories are basically the syllabus for the certification examination.

Here is the list of categories:

  • Skill Category 1 – Quality Principles and Concepts
  • Skill Category 2 – Quality Leadership
  • Skill Category 3 – Quality Baselines
  • Skill Category 4 – Quality Assurance
  • Skill Category 5 – Quality Planning
  • Skill Category 6 – Define, Build, Implement and Improve Work Processes
  • Skill Category 7 – Quality Control Practices
  • Skill Category 8 – Metrics and Measurement
  • Skill Category 9 – Internal Control and Security
  • Skill Category 10 – Outsourcing, COTS, and Contracting Quality

The details of about what each one of these skill categories contain is detailed in the CSQA brochure that is available at the link I gave above. I am also providing a screenshot for quick reference: (click on image to enlarge)

CSQA certification

Certification Preparation Steps:

1. Take some time to make a decision on when you want to take the test. I suggest at least 4-6 months of preparation time.

2. Once you decide a good time, go ahead and apply for it online. Choose your nearest test center at the date. (all the procedure is in the link provided)

3. Obtain the CBOK. (you will receive a PDF or CD of the CBOK after you register for the certification)

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4. CBOK has all the information about the test, references, the detailed explanation of the skill categories mentioned above etc. Read it and understand thoroughly.

Note: All I really studied in preparation for this certification is the CBOK. I never needed to refer anything else, nevertheless the below are the references recommended by QAI:

CSQA Study Reference Books:

CSQA certification study books

You don’t have to be overwhelmed by this list. You really don’t need to read all the books. But I wanted to list them all the same, for readers who might have an academic interest in the field and are looking for reference titles.

5. Prepare well and appear for the examination. It has 2 sectionsmultiple choice and essay questions. The examination takes about approximately 2.5 hours and you will need a 70% score to pass in each section.

Tips for Tackle the Examination:

  1. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare.
  2. Do not treat your CBOK knowledge and your professional experience as two different aspects. Try and see how the QA processes that you are currently following are similar or different with the guidelines given in the CBOK.
  3. During your preparation phase, try to apply the CBOK recommended practices and principles to your job and see how it helps you.
  4. Adapt the CBOK as your daily guide for your testing or QA practices and record your observations.
  5. I cannot emphasize this more. CBOK is your bible. Give yourself a thorough understanding of the material in the CBOK and there is just no reason why you will not be able to succeed

Conclusion:

I know many testers have negative views about testing certifications. But personally, this certification has helped me be more confident at my job, given me the necessary tools to be an efficient QA, has given my superiors and clients more faith in my capabilities and of course, it makes my resume stronger.

The only concern for anyone thinking of taking this up might be the cost. It is a little expensive but check with your companies about their continued learning policies for the associates. You might be pleasantly surprised that the fee might be reimbursed. I wish you luck!

Note – If you are interested to know more about different software testing certifications please read our earlier posts here and here.

In the next article, we will post the CSQA certification sample questions with answers – both multiple choice and Essays. Along with the questions, there will be few more tips on how to answer these questions, especially the essays.

Feel free to post your questions.



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20 comments ↓

#1 karunanidhi on 07.04.13 at 4:34 am

kindly advice the cost of the certification registration

#2 Rashmi on 07.04.13 at 5:13 am

Thanks for such a clear overiew of CSQA certification. It really helps many people. :)

Waiting for the next article.

Thanks,
Rashmi

#3 hema on 07.04.13 at 5:24 am

I wanted to know the exam dates please kindly let me know about the exam dates

thanks & regards,

#4 Pravin Patil on 07.04.13 at 5:41 am

Hi,
can please share docs that you have for the study of these CSQA and ISTQB certification.

thanks
pravin

#5 Inder on 07.04.13 at 6:23 am

Hi,

what is the difference between CSQA and ISTQB certification. which one is more beneficial??

#6 Nilesh Rayewar on 07.04.13 at 6:33 am

Hi,
Thanks for giving such a needful information. Definitely it is very useful. I wanted to know the centers for exam in Pune.

Thanxs,
Nilesh

#7 Swati on 07.04.13 at 7:20 am

@karunanidhi: Please check the link in the article under the “Initial Application & Fee: (CSQA)” section

#8 Swati on 07.04.13 at 7:22 am

@hema: You can choose the dates as you wish. Check the link in the article for details

#9 Swati on 07.04.13 at 7:23 am

@Pravin Patil: CBOK is the only doc I used. If you need the CBOK you will have to register for the examination. Other reference titles are listed in the article

#10 Swati on 07.04.13 at 7:24 am

@Nilesh Rayewar: Not sure of Pune specific locations or dates. I am sure the link in the article will have the details

#11 Swati on 07.04.13 at 7:26 am

@Inder: ISTQB and CSQA are 2 different certifications. Each one has its own syllabus. So one is not better than the other. They are just seperate

#12 Lien Le on 07.04.13 at 7:57 am

Great one

#13 Priya on 07.04.13 at 7:03 pm

Very useful info… Thankyou Swathi…

I registered for the CSQA exam few months ago but haven’t got a chance to prepare due to tight work schedules…my exam date is Aug 22. Which means I have 6 weeks of time…
I really want to clear this exam but not sure how to prepare
Can you suggest how many hours approximately I need to spend on the syllabus so that I can clear the exam successfully?

I really appreciate your advice and guidance.. I definitely need it…

Thanks
Priya

#14 Swati Seela on 07.04.13 at 9:05 pm

@Priya: 6 weeks is of prep time is definitely challenging. However, I think it can be done. You have 10 skill categories- So here is a strategy.

Try to cover 2 categories every week. Leave the last week for revision. Believe me you will feel with each week, you don’t remember what you studied earlier. Don’t worry its normal. The last week will bring it all back to you and keep it fresh.

You should at least put in 2-3 hours each day. Not necessarily at a stretch. So try to break it down into your schedule. Print the CBOK and keep individual chapters with you. That way, you will have a chance to glance at them when you can. That is what I did and it kind of worked for me.

For each week, try to mix skill categories in a way that has one easy and one hard category. Example: combine 1 and 3 in the first week. Skill category 3 has all the CMMI and ISO standard stuff. You don’t have an option but to remember all the points under this. But Skill category 1 is pretty much your day to day stuff, so less effort. Skill category 9 and 10 are also pretty simple but tedious, so try to mix them up with something easier.

Make notes or bullet points as you go, to help you in terms of revision for the last week.

Lastly, believe that you can do it. Half way through the process review your progress and as a last resort, remember there is an option to postpone the test date which I am hoping that you will not need.

Wish you all the very best and let me know if you need any more help.

#15 Harshal on 07.05.13 at 1:29 am

I would prefer ISTQB

#16 mohit on 07.05.13 at 7:22 am

Most of the companys ask for ISTQB,i have Never Seen A company Who ask For The CSQA.
So can You tell Be How They Both Differ From Each Other.

#17 Swati on 07.05.13 at 9:19 pm

mohit: CSQA and ISTQB are both testing related certifications that are not a qualification for a job. They are different and comparing them will be like comparing apples and oranges

#18 Priya on 07.22.13 at 4:25 am

Thankyou swati for the tips…I wish I had known these a little early…

I will try my best for the exam…will keep u posted with the updates…

Thanks a lot for the valuable suggestions!

Priya

#19 Madhavi on 09.04.13 at 10:18 am

Hi all,
I did my ISTQB Foundation level and i booked slot for Advanced level exams ( Test Analyst, Technical test Analyst and Test Manager )….
i hear about CSQA and CSTE … what are these…?
Is my Certification valid then ..?
This is the webiste i follow :http://www.istqb.in/exam_date.php

#20 Ranjan Kumar on 01.20.14 at 8:57 am

Hello,
I would like to learn about QA certification. So, please tell where to start from and which is better certification for starting level ?
Please give the certification name which i follow to learn about.

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