Certified Agile Tester Course Outline – my summery of the CAT course

Certified Agile Tester Course Outline – my summary of the CAT course

I recently became a Certified Agile Tester and I just came across my notes from the course and wanted to share my personal experience with it in case you are interested in the course but would like some details more about it before signing up. Fortunately some of my colleagues could give me some details before I started the course, but I might be more lucky than most. ISQI are not super informative about the course content, so here you go: my summary of the CAT course – the Certified Agile Tester Course Outline. Enjoy :)

If you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to comment below or contact me.

My CAT course consisted of 4 days of training and one exam day with two tests. Each of the four days of the Certified Agile Tester course have a theme: Day 1: Agile Methods and Process, Day 2: Planning, Day 3: Testing, Day 4: Teams. I’ve organised the article in sections describing each of the training days. The exam day is a tale of its own, so I might write about the another time.

Day 1 – Agile Methods and Process

The first day is about the Agile Methods and Process. These are covered by the modules 1 and 2 in the CAT Manual 3.0.

  • Introduction
  • Daily Scrum
  • Problems with Traditional
  • Agile Manifesto & Principles
  • Agile Methods
  • Agile Process Option
  • Roles
  • Intro to Agile Exercise

We started the course getting introduced to the instructor Søren Wassard. After that, we got a short task to write our own User Story which we all put up on a Task Board that we used for a Daily Scrum every morning during the course. We talked about the concept of the daily scrum although all of us knew it. Later, as we discussed the variety of uses of the task board, some of us shared our experiences which proved to be very different.

One of the things that the student is evaluated on is the Soft skills, which the instructor is evaluating during the training period.

A rather negative topic is the constant comparison to traditional software development methods like Waterfall and the V-model. In the manual there is an emphasis on the problems with traditional methods

We were introduced to the most commonly used Agile methods: Scrum, Kanban, XP, and Lean Software development. The Agile process option that is used for examples in the course is briefly defined, and referenced the rest of the course. Within the process, the necessary roles are defined.

We ended the day with a practical group exercise in which we had to build small town in Lego bricks using the knowledge about agile that we had acquired during the day.

Of course there was some homework as well, which was 5 rather easy K2 questions. I re-read the part of the manual that we’d gone through during the day, taking notes and highlighted some of the key points from the lectures. Finally I skimmed the modules 4, 5, and 6 really quick before passing out.

Day 2 – Planning

The theme of Day 2 was Planning and the topics included in the modules 4 and 5 that describes the strategic aspects of agile testing.

  • Requirements & Specifications
  • Iteration Zero
  • Release Planning
  • Task Board
  • Test Strategy
  • Estimation
  • Iteration Planning
  • Burn-down Charts
  • Sprint Practice Exercises

That covers the topics of Module 4 and 5 which are about pre-planning and continuous planning respectively.

The pre-planning theme in Module 4 include topics mostly on Requirements and Specifications that should be addressed before the team start continuously delivering features.

Iteration Zero is the framing in which the team can get to know each other, do the initial Release Planning, deciding on how to use a Task Board. The  team can outline the Test Strategy, and do the initial Estimation on what stories and tasks that might already be specified.

Module 5 focuses more on the continuous planning that is repeated and improved between each sprint. include the topics:

Iteration Planning that is done at the very beginning of each sprint, sprint reviews and retrospectives are used to evaluate the latest iteration for improvement in the following iterations. Burn-down Charts on both the release and iteration levels that are used throughout the project as an indicator on how it is going.

Building on the Lego exercise from Day 1, the Sprint Practice Exercises was now run as they would be on the exam day, although we were collaborating on the exercises.

The homework on Day 2 was very similar to those from Day 1 with a handful K2 questions with answers and marking guidelines.

Day 3 – Testing

Day 3 had more technical topics than the other days. It focuses on the practical aspects of being an agile tester in the module 6 and most of module 7. We did the last part of module 7, about Test Automation and Technical and Testing Debt on day 4.

  • Continuous Integration
  • Version Management
  • Pairing
  • Acceptance Criteria
  • Regression Testing
  • Defect Management

We talked about the very practical techniques of Continuous Integration and Version Management. These should be a default tool for anyone in the team.

Another practical technique we discussed was Pairing – the concept of working on tasks in pairs. Basically the discussion was about when to pair and not to pair. In general, the message was that any combination of team roles can benefit from pairing.

One of the greater topics of the day was Acceptance Criteria in relation to the Definition of Done and Acceptance Testing. In extension to these, we talked about which basic Test Techniques are useful to apply to different situations. Various test techniques can be applied both when planning the user stories’ acceptance criteria and while conducting exploratory tests.

We talked about the how Agile methods strongly advocate automating regression testing given the continuous integration and deliveries that is a core part of the methods.

Defect management in Agile projects is different from that in traditional projects because often the defects are fixed almost immediately after they are found.

The practical exercises continued from day 2 in the same manner where we worked in two teams of 4 persons. On day 2 it was stressful doing the exercises because we didn’t know exactly what to do, but on day 3 it was much easier because we tried it the day before.

The homework consisted of only two K2 example questions. In addition there was one scenario based question with 4 specific questions.

Day 4 – Teams

On day 4, the main theme was Agile Teams in different contexts, with module 9 in mind. Additionally, several more technical topics were covered in the last part of module 7 and module 8. Finally the course was summarised with module 10 and the last preparing questions for the exam was reviewed.

  • Test Automation
  • Non Functional Testing
  • Tools Support
  • Debt Technical & Testing
  • TDD
  • Teams
  • Agile For Large Projects
  • Course Summary

We started the day with the last part of module 7 about Test Automation, Non Functional Testing, Tools Support, and Technical & Testing Debt.  With regards to Test Automation, the CAT manual mostly covered  the why and what but as part of the course, we discussed how automation is implemented in some of the participants’ companies.  In a similar manner, the why and what of non-functional testing was briefly reviewed and we discussed what techniques can be used for testing non-functional requirements.

Different types of tools that can support the many shared roles and their activities in Agile Projects. We talked about the pros and cons when using open source and commercial tools.

Agile theory and practitioners often talk about Technical Debt where Testing Debt is a less covered topic. We reviewed and discussed how to manage Testing Debt. The same way that Debt is discussed extensively in relation to technical issues, TDD is often centred around programming where, as the name suggest, it is test design before programming. The main message was that test professionals have a lot to contribute with in TDD.

Team structures are unique and should be handled that way practically. That said, we discussed some common patterns that Agile Teams form. We covered distributed and co-located teams and what tools can support distributed teams. We also talked about how the soft skills can benefit how well teams perform.

Although Agile methods are very common in small teams and start-up companies, certifications as the CAT are often an answer to the needs from larger companies and enterprises. That makes Agile for Large Projects and Enterprise Projects obvious and very relevant topics for the course.

The final practical exercise consisted of two parts (check out the article about the practical exam and exercises). The first part was done in the same groups as the previous days. The second part was done individually to prepare us for the exam conditions.

Conclusion

Concluding the course we reviewed each module briefly in a Q&A where the instructor asked questions about them and we, the participants answered them.

I hope you can use my Certified Agile Tester Course Outline. Please leave a comment if anything was unclear. Then I’ll try to answer as best as I can

:)

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