Q&A – CSeTF Certified Selenium Tester Foundation

I’m delighted to say that the post you’re about to read today is written by the sites first ever guest poster. A hugely talented and knowledgeable test consultant, Beth Marshall. Beth contacted me originally after seeing one of my articles with an interest in helping with content. Not wanting to pass up such an opportunity, I quickly accepted, especially when she told me the subject of the article she’d like to write.

Beth recently completed the CSeTF Certified Selenium Tester Foundation course and passed with flying colours, giving her what I believe will be a hugely valuable qualification within testing in the not too distant future. There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of this certification, as it’s such a new qualification and quite an unusual one in the sense that with automation, there really isn’t anything else out there like it.

But I really want people to learn and become better automation testers, and if there’s a certification out there that will not only help people learn, but get their learning accomplishment some well earned recognition, then I want as many people to know about it as possible.

Take it away Beth!

Q.What is it?

This is a new certification released in August 2018.  It has been managed by Rex Black, author of the ISTQB test suite, so you know it’s going to be good.  iSQI (pronounced “iss-key”)are the leading global exam provider for ISTQB and AQ4 are their associated exam board.  Basically in the absence of any formally approved certifications (as Selenium is open sourced), this is your best bet at an international industry recognised Selenium qualification.  I think of it as the equivalent of ISTQB foundation for Selenium Automation.

Q.Who’s it aimed at?

The focus of this course is for test professionals who need to create Selenium Webdriver tests.  This might be testers who are new to automation, new to Selenium, or those who are self-taught and may have gaps in their knowledge. Personally, as someone who is self-taught and looking to move more into roles which involved increased levels of test automation, this sounded perfect.

Q.What does it cover?

The syllabus covers four main areas:-

Test Automation Basics – when is automation useful and when is it not
Internet Technologies overview, such as HTML, XML, XPath and CSS
Using Selenium Webdriver – how to launch a browser, common Selenium commands (in Python)
Preparing maintainable tests – different patterns such as page object model, as well as techniques for making your automation framework more scalable.


I found it interesting that the course is very focussed on what you need to do to have a successful automation project that is future proof, as well as the practical understanding of how it all works.  Parts of the syllabus are very honest about why automation often fails, and why automation isn’t always the best solution to a problem.  Even if you aren’t interested in the qualification, the syllabus is an interesting read that will certainly provoke some thoughts.

Q.Do you need to take a course?

The course hasn’t launched in the UK as of yet, and when it does I suspect it will be fairly limited location-wise (i.e. London) until it gains in popularity.  The course is not a mandatory pre-requisite for taking the exam, and I managed to pass the exam with a good mark without taking the course at all.  I believe Rex may have done a few global webinars from the states though if that’s your thing.

Q.​How much does it cost?

The exam is currently priced at £175(inc. VAT) in the UK, and can be taken at any Pearson Vue test centre.

Q.How much time does it take to prepare to pass the course?

Unlike ISTQB, there are no associated reading materials for this course.  All you need is to focus on the Syllabus, which is freely available.  All of the questions in the exam are based on this one 80 page document.  It took me about a week of syllabus revision to prepare for the course, including taking the morning of the exam to re-read everything through which really helped!

Q.What is the format of the exam?

The exam consists of 40 multiple choice questions, taken over 60 minutes (unless English is not your first language, then you can ask for a little longer).  Pass mark for the exam is 65%.  All questions are multiple choice, most having only one correct answer, some having more than 1.  All questions are worth 1 point each, so you need to get 26 or more to pass the course. It’s all stuff that is in the syllabus, some might be an extract of python code, a more abstract concept you need to define or a glossary term to interpret.

Q.What are the downsides?

Qualifications like this aren’t always popular within the industry – there are no certification programs for Selenium or WebDriver that are approved by the open source Selenium project itself, and none have the endorsement of the core contributors.  You’ll be having the same arguments with people you’ve been hearing for years about ISTQB.  I think if you’re an experienced automation professional this isn’t for you, but if you’re just starting out or going for your first automation role your next boss might not appreciate the nuances of whether a Selenium qualification is worthwhile – they may just see the positive that it demonstrates you’ve been willing to undertake up to date training to keep your skill set fresh and you have a current qualification.

Q.Is it worth it?

As with all of these things, it depends.  Similar to the ISTQB foundation, there is a lot of theory here, and a lot of emphasis on the basics, so if you’re comfortable interrogating the DOM and querying XPATH then you might not gain a lot of knowledge.  It also doesn’t require you to get your hands dirty and write a load of code, which is ultimately the best way to learn.  

As someone who is self-taught from mostly online courses, I found the detail in the Syllabus really useful, as it helped cement the knowledge I had so I could be more confident in what I am doing e.g. what the wider industry standards are, and this definitely impressed at a recent job interview.  For me, less than £200 for a Selenium Certification on your CV is an absolute winner, as this may be a qualification that becomes more and more sought-after in the coming years.

Q.Where can I find out more?

Announcement of the certification on the iSQI blog

Rex Black YouTube overview of iSQI A4Q Selenium Tester Foundation

The syllabus can be found here

I couldn’t be more happy that Beth offered to contribute this article. I really believe it will benefit a lot of people, especially the audience of this site that are looking to learn and improve their automation skills.

If you want to follow Beth on Twitter, and I highly recommend that you do, then you can find her at @Beth_AskHer. Also, if you want to know more about what you’ve read in this article, you can email her directly at beth.marshall@askherconsulting.co.uk. She’s offered to answer any queries you might have about the certification and the content.