Saturday, November 3, 2007

...and we finally appeared for the ISTQB!

After months of …oops I mean after 7 days of preparation, we were ready (At least we thought we were) to appear for the ISTQB! The “We” comprised of Salil, Pranav, Hrishikesh, Om and Yours truly – Me! We were not only good friends but project mates too…. and now let me rewind some 10 days back when it all started.

It was a late Wednesday morning. I was sitting in my cubicle trying to read some functional specification. There was a murmur on our level consisting of people blabbering away software jargons, discussing timesheets, WSRs, etc etc. Suddenly in all this murmur, I heard a calm clear voice asking me – Mate, are you gonna appear for the ISTQB this month? I turned around to see the face of the voice. It was Hrishikesh. I replied ‘Yep’ and asked him the last date of enrollment. Again, very calmly he said – The last date is …Tomorrow!!…. I thought if we missed this time, the next exam was in Dec and then we would miss that too coz we all are very good at procrastinating. And hence I wasted no time in enrolling both of us online. As I was about to pump my fist in the air for taking the first step, a gentle tap on my shoulder made me turn back. It was Salil looking at both of us. He said he’d been listening to our discussion and he too wanted to have a go at the ISTQB. Well, me, the ‘form-filling expert’ did the needful. And then there was a smile on our faces – a smile that indicated we had done something extraordinary. Yes! We had at last, finally, after so many months, managed to enroll for this exam. This was a proud moment. We all stood up in our cubicles praising each other. Then suddenly a thought crept across our mind - We needed to shell out 4000 bucks each – Exam fees! The smile vanished quickly.

Post lunch, Salil, Pranav and me went to the bank for making the drafts. The pretty lady at the counter handed the drafts in the name of the Indian Testing Board. We felt successful already. Pranav, who had submitted his exam fees was THE guy for “dropping the draft” at the SQTL. Hrishi was gonna submit his exam fees later in the day.

Next day, we learnt that our excitement was so contagious that a fifty guy in our project team, Om, had succumbed...I mean applied for the exam too. Om is reputed for waiting to the last minute of everything and he again stood true to his reputation by submitting his exam fees on the last day. He too had entrusted the draft submission duties with Pranav who did his job brilliantly.

There was no turning back now. We had to study and pass or flunk and lose 4000. If we pass, our benign company would reimburse the exam fees. Akash told us that the Foundation level exam is child’s play. It relaxed us a lot but only for a while coz soon Salil scared the hell out of us…He opened the Pandora’s box. It was a Word document containing a mock ISTQB question paper. He asked me five questions. I got them all wrong. I was perspiring profusely. Salil calmed me by saying no one could answer any of the questions. Immediately an emergency meeting was called. We discussed various options – nah not of studying but of ways to withdraw from the exam.

Akash, the guy, who had told us that Foundation Level exam is easy peasy lemon squeezy, again came to appease our jangled nerves. He said – Don’t worry; the exam has 100 % pass record. We were silent for a minute. Then he added a very important part – “ Guys, you know that you have to mark your answers in pencils. Right?”. He continued to explain his infallible out of the world logic of why they ask us to use pencils only? He said that in order that the results are 100 %, the examiners rub off the wrong answers to pass the candidates! All 7 of us in the cubicle burst out in laughter so big that the whole floor was looking at us. I guess we had woken the floor up out of a deep slumber on a drowsy afternoon!

The next week was spent in studying and reading whenever possible - In the bus, at home (rarely), during work. Everyone was asking random questions to each other at any possible time - lunchtime, coffee breaks and would you believe – washrooms too!! There was exam like atmosphere in our project. Even SameTime – online chat messenger was not spared…Questions were bombarded on it too. Oh how can I forget Orkut…. I was scrapping questions to all (written with a wide grin on my face).

I also learnt that one of me mates, Geeta, was appearing for the exam on the same date! That meant six of us now! Hrishikesh called the exam center 2 days before the exam for our time slots. As luck would have it…all five of us were scheduled for the same time slot at 1:30 pm.

Fast-forward – Sunday Exam Day: When Salil and I reach the venue at 12 pm, the 11:45 pm batch is writing their exam. So we settle comfortably in a room at the venue. Soon Pranav, Om and Hrishi join us. We study for a while but couldn’t concentrate as everyone is asking questions and no one seems to recall anything. Typical exam time blues! Geeta calls me after her exam. We all head down to meet her. She says that the exam was for 90 minutes! That means an increase of 30 minutes but the 40 questions only. She says the exam is very confusing.

As I stand in the line to get in to our exam room, I am reading some chapter and I ask a question to the people standing the line. Me mates stop me saying – “Enough now, no one remembers a thing. We don’t know why we are here!”. Everyone is laughing. Well atleast, I did my part to lighten the atmosphere.

We enter the basement room and manage to find seats such that all five of us are next to each other. The exam begins and I soon realize why Geeta meant the exam was confusing. There were 4 options and we had to tick one. Out of those four, two options seemed so correct that I had to reach for my wallet to toss the coin for deciding the answers! I finish the exam in 45 mins and decide not to hand in my answer sheet so early. So I sit there in my chair observing other people. I see many candidates scratching their heads and looking perplexed. I believe they were thinking of tossing the coin too! After that I start watching the revolving fan in the room. After all, what could I do? I couldn’t look sideways all the time at other people. Someone behind me hands the answer sheet. That gives me courage. I get up and hand mine too. Hrishikesh and Salil look at me as if I am committing a crime. I feel guilty. But heck, I can’t sit there for 30 more minutes. I come out. Salil and Pranav follow me after a while. We discuss answers. Some of them same and some way apart. Hrishikesh and Om come at the end. We congratulate each other for nothing. Still laughing about the exam we make our way to a nearby restaurant. We think of the day when we had filled the exam forms and now! Then we realize that overall it had been a very good experience – a memorable one at least!

Next day, Salil, sends us a message “ The exam fee for reappearing is 2500 bucks”. We decide to bash him. The exam results will be declared after a fortnight by emails. We decide, we won’t tell anyone of the exam until we pass!.....The waiting game is still going on...