How BBST has transformed me as a testerI do not recall the last time I agreed to an assignment without questioning it. This was one of those rare moments. Ajoy asked me if I would like to share my BBST experience and I just said YES.

As I type these letters I ask myself why I agreed. The word BBST has a special place in me. To me it’s like the most exhilarating adventure sport, may be that is it. BBST made me feel alive again in testing and I sincerely believe it could do the same for most testers.

Six years back with only 4 years of experience in testing I had moved on from developing test cases to managing deliveries to having them signed off at UAT’s. I told myself I am way too good for this, may be I should get myself a certification to stand out from the crowd or may be just move out of testing because – it is such a easy job. When I started asking around for certifications ISTQB was the most famous. Everyone I met was quick to recommend this but little did they talk about the value of it. Well you know its industry certified. Well I did not want an industry certification.
– I wanted to discover beyond writing test cases and its execution or having them executed in testing.- I wanted to understand why most of us are asked to do some stuff which at most times made no sense to me. One of which was writing test cases from a document when you have software waiting to be tested with developer sitting next to you.- I wanted to be challenged- I wanted something to help me take up testing seriously- Well, I wanted to learn testing

I am fortunate that I came across Pradeep Soundararajan during this phase of me who then pointed me to AST BBST.The objective for the AST BBST Foundations was simple and clear. It did not claim to teach me every possible technique, approach or types of testing like others. All it said was and which stands till today is –
“This first course is a basic introduction to black box testing. It presents basic terminology and considers:the mission of testingthe oracle problemthe measurement problemthe impossibility of complete testing”

Till then I had only come across certifications who claim to teach you everything in 4 weeks and here was BBST who had 4 bullet points and they did not even mention any popular ‘words’, in today’s world hash tags (twitter did not exist then). I was intrigued by these points. I did not understand much then on what they meant by ‘mission’ or ‘oracle’. I was keen to learn the measurement problem and impossibility of complete testing because I have had numerous arguments with my peers and leads and though convinced did not know how to demonstrate it.The course also states that one might have to spend 8 hours per week well, which now has been updated to 12-14 hours, and I do completely agree. There were times I slept for only for 3 hours balancing the load. It’s no walk in the park course. It’s a transformation course.I completed the course in 2008 and after 6 years I still do not know of any other online course, which has challenged me so much. You do learn the above points, what you also realise you have learnt is to- Manage your own time, between work, family and BBST.- Collaborate with testers across the globe with different time zones at a rapid pace- Unlearn and learn- Review work of others- How to be structured, disciplined but not scripted- Apply techniques from papers to real life programs
The course have everything in it from orienting assignments for the video lectures to quizzes to participation in quiz forums. You even get the chance to question the answers marked by your instructor and if you are right your point will be duly noted. How many certifications can boast this? That is how collaborative and interactive the course is.

One of my favourite was the group assignment. We were three in the group from three different continents Asia, USA and Australia. All three of us were on full time jobs and we had to complete the assignment. How would you collaborate daily and deliver quickly? Well no spoil alerts here. I will leave it there for you to experience when you are on the course. You also get to evaluate your peer assignments which trust me is a lot of fun.
You also get to participate in exam cram study hall and then finish off with the final exam and complete the course by evaluating your peer exams. Like most of us I did have my reservations around some of these like for example what will I learn by “Evaluating peer exams”?

BBST exams are not the usual ‘how good your memory is’ test. Neither is it is about reproducing theory. The exam will make you think and apply your learning from the course on real life programs. Because of this you also learn so much more by reading thru your peers answers. Each answer will be in their own words and you need to ask yourself is this direct, relevant, what are the key points, what is been missed, how well is it this written. This assignment is extremely difficult but also very rewarding. This is one of my biggest takeaways from the course.

Passing or Failing the course do not depend on just your final exam answers they look at your final exam answers, your grading of your peers, your other assignments so far and participation for the full term of the course.

This is what I said about BBST 6 years back – “The amazing fact about the BBST foundations course is that it does not restrict itself to the number of years of experience, domain, etc an individual has in testing, but rather it sets up a fantastic stage for testers with different experiences, nationalities, and backgrounds to discuss, share and learn together.”

And today the memories come back like it was only yesterday that I received my certificate from Dr. Cem Kaner for completing the course. Oh yes did I miss that? You are trained by some of the best testers on the planet.
Thank you BBST for changing me as a Tester.

This article was published in our February 2014 edition. ByregowdaArticlesBBST Course,Black Box Software Testing,Testing ArticleI do not recall the last time I agreed to an assignment without questioning it. This was one of those rare moments. Ajoy asked me if I would like to share my BBST experience and I just said YES. As I type these letters I ask myself why I agreed....
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Sharath Byregowda

Sharath Byregowda is a passionate software test professional with around 10 years experience in testing and managing software deliveries. He likes to first understand each situation, and then select an approach, process that fits the context. He currently works as a Principal Consultant at SQS, London in their agile group. He co-founded Weekend Testing with three other passionate testers and is now running the WNTesting chapter in London.

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