Wednesday, March 17, 2004


Blogging was light last weekend because I was in Seattle taking my CSTE exam. What's that, you ask?
"Acquiring the designation of Certified Software Tester (CSTE) indicates a professional level of competence in the principles and practices of quality control in the IT profession."

It's a test I took so my employer can tell customers we have "certified" QA people on the job. So how was the test? Gruelling. I do have a minor nit to pick. The test is supposed to measure the sort of knowledge you need to do the job, and mostly that's what it does, but it also has a few test questions that cover random bits of useless and/or dubious QA lore. There were a few questions like this:

Dr. Gregory Smith's "Five steps to continuous improvement" do not include which of the following steps:
(a) Do
(b) Act
(c) Measure
(d) Refine
(e) None of the above

If your initial response to that question is "Dr WHO?", does that mean you're not qualified to do QA?

Another one: Requirements errors are more expensive to rectify later than are production errors. But how MUCH more expensive are they? 10x? 50x? 100x? Well, it probably depends on who did the measuring and what they were building and how they were building it. There are some answers in the literature, but not any I'd put a high degree of confidence in. Another question along those lines is: How many more bugs are produced in one stage than another? The relevant-to-doing-your-job answer to both questions is: important bugs can creep in at all levels, and it's pretty darned important to make sure you're building the right house at the right address on the right foundation before you get around to installing the plumbing and painting the walls. But if it turns out you built the wrong house, do we consider that ONE bug or a thousand? It's kind of arbitrary, but "it's kind of arbitrary" doesn't make a good multiple-choice test answer, and doesn't help you pick from a set of highly precise suggested answers such as 10, 50, 100.

So there are a few questions on which I had to make wild guesses as to what answer they wanted, and I know I got some of them wrong. But I think they allow enough of a margin of error that I still passed. If I didn't, well, next time I'll pass for certain.

UPDATE: I passed!