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 (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 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:

The details of about what each one of these skill categories contains 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)



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)

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:

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 checks 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.