21 August, 2009

Are you an Ostrich sticking your head in the sand?

One particular discussion in TestRepublic ‘ISTQB and CSTE' caught my attention. There is an interesting trend in how students approach testing certifications.

Different ways of clearing testing certifications:
1. A student studies and practices in and out of the subject by referring to at least some of the reference books, gains tremendous knowledge and attempts the certification exam.
2. A student studies all the model question papers, previous years’ question papers, training material given by some institutes which train students to pass such certifications etc. Such a student would ideally just prepare for the exam by rote and dump it onto the answer sheets.
3. A student attempts all the questions through wild guessing and depends on luck(I had read on one of the ISTQB discussion forums that for most of the questions, if a student marks (B) or (C), there is a high probability to pass the exam easily)
4. A student does a bit of (1) and (2) above.

In each of the above cases, based on the type of questions that appeared in the exam and based on whether the student had prepared for those specific questions, he/she will answer accordingly.

Format of Testing Certifications
The question paper format for most of the testing certifications is objective in nature. Irrespective of whether you have knowledge or not, if you know what is the question and what is the answer and you can match them correctly, Bingo, you pass the exams! It is as simple as ‘Match the Following’ exercises given to 3rd/4th/5th grade students.

Students run behind certifications because:
1. Better Future Job Prospects(the so called hype around it)
2. Reputation as a Skilled employee (person A has passed X, Y, Z certifications and hence highly skilled!)
3. Better raises and bonuses (person A has passed X, Y, Z certifications while person B has not passed any. Hence person A deserves a better raise)
4. A lot of clients especially in service oriented companies emphasize on certifications and standards
5. A non-computer science graduate thinks that doing certifications is one of the best ways to get into such fields and testing is the easiest option. Isn’t it?
And the list goes on and on.

What do the students gain?
When the so called X, Y, Z certified testers get back to their offices, the only change they carry with them is the new certification.
1. Change the Email Signature to ISTQB/CSTE/CSQA/CSTP certified engineer
2. Put up a photocopy of the certificate in the workstation
3. Add the certification logo to the resume to attract interview calls
4. And brag about the certification to fellow colleagues who have not even heard of it.

What did the students gain? – Loss of MONEY, TIME and GETTING FOOLED

What do the Testing Boards/Companies gain?
The Testing Boards or the companies which are offering the testing certifications at exhorbitant prices are making hell lot of money at the cost of fooling the students. Let us take a look at the profits they make: ISTQB Foundation Level exam costs around Rs. 4,000/- per person. If there are around 300 students taking this exam every month, an estimated 3600 students take up this exam in a single year. Profit: 300*12*4000 = Rs. 1,44,00,000/- per year.

Dear students, forget about the money part for a while. Have you gained any knowledge by clearing the certification? Have you learned any new skills? Have you been able to make a single good change at your workplace(apart from mouthing a few testing definitions which you would have learned by rote).

What did the Testing Boards/Companies gain? – CRAZY MONEY

Are you an Ostrich sticking your head in the sand? You Decide!

Happy Testing,
Parimala Shankaraiah,