After investing thousands of dollars in attempting to get a software testing certification at the International Institute for Software Testing (IIST), they blacklisted me from taking courses taught by their chairman, necessary to complete said certification.

I first attended one of IIST's international testing certification weeks five years ago. The certification requires certain classes, some of which are taught by Dr. Magdy Hanna. After taking his course, The Principles of Software Testing, I gave him a poor evaluation. I may be one of the few people in the world who actually bothers to provide valuable feedback on surveys and I'm not shy about giving it.

Anyway, two years later I talked my new company into letting me attend another certification week. I was only about three courses away from certification. I registered, signed up for the courses I needed, and bought an airline ticket. About a week later, I got an email saying I could not take one of the courses I signed up for because the instructor would not allow it (due to a poor evaluation I had given him two years earlier).

Was this guy for real? Dr. Magdy Hanna would not return my calls but eventually sent me an email saying since I didn't like his teaching style I would be banned from his classes. Oh, I would have taken someone else's class in a heartbeat but this was the last one I needed and Hanna happened to be the only guy teaching it that week. It would have been nice if they would have told me prior to me registering and buying an airline ticket, which I had to use elsewhere.

Anyway, I hate IIST. Hanna's classes did suck and so did his teaching technique, which was more about his own ego than trying to help anyone become a better tester. That year I attended Michael Bolton's Rapid Software Testing course and learned more than I had learned in all the IIST classes. This year I am attending the Software Test & Performance Conference and next year I hope to try CAST. If you ever have a choice, don't choose IIST.

12 comments:

  1. purple crazy crayon said...

    Sorry to hear about that. It's sad to hear that even people whom have PhDs aren't rational enough to embrace cricitism and use it in a positive way to better themselves. Their egos would rather have people lie to them about great and wonderful they are. Anyhow, let us know how you REALLY feel about IIST and Dr. Magdy Hanna. Don't hold back!

    Also, I didn't know Michael Bolton taught software testing classes. I guess that's how he's making ends meet cuz we all know his singing career isn't making enough to pay the rent on his studio apt.

  2. Ben Simo said...

    @ purple crazy crayon

    Michael Bolton the software tester, not the singer. :)

  3. Anonymous said...

    I'm in the middle of the first course - Principles of Sofware Testing. I'm doing the pre-recorded online course. I think that my head may explode. There are actually spelling errors on some of the slides! Not to mention that it's ridiculous that they don't provide the slides in a printable format, and the actual WebEx presentation capabilities are shoddy at best.

    I wish I hadn't started down this path.

  4. Magdy Hanna said...

    I just saw the original post by Mr. Jacobson in back in 2008, that is 5 years ago. I am Magdy Hanna, PH.D. the CEO of IIST and the instructor of the course the subject of the complaint. Of course I could easily ignore it because it is too old. However, I think there are facts that must be made clear. First, Mr. Jacobson too the course he is complaining about back in 2004. Obviously, did not have much to company about in 2004. I just checked our records and found out that He request a refund of the course fee and we refunded him the fee 100%. I also found out that Mr. Jacobson had not provide reason's for his dissatisfaction except he did not like the teaching style of the instructor. Yet, we issued a full refund. 4 years latter, Mr. Jacobson decides to register for another course by the same instructor. To avoid further dissatisfaction and avoid another request of refund, we simply do not allow the customer to take another course from the same instructor, especially, the course he was registering for is taught by other instructors at IIST. I wish others did not react to such inaccurate post in the negative manner they did without knowing the facts. If you want to know more about how the world perceive courses from IIST and from this specific instructor, you can read customer comments at http://www.testinginstitute.com/testimonials.php.

  5. Eric Jacobson said...

    I just saw the original post by Mr. Jacobson in back in 2008, that is 5 years ago. I am Magdy Hanna, PH.D. the CEO of IIST and the instructor of the course the subject of the complaint. Of course I could easily ignore it because it is too old. However, I think there are facts that must be made clear. First, Mr. Jacobson too the course he is complaining about back in 2004. Obviously, did not have much to company about in 2004.

    Actually, I did begin complaining back in 2004. I didn’t have a software testing blog back then but I filled out your feedback forms after the courses I took from you. I listed what I didn’t like about your courses. I also tried to have a direct conversation with you years later, but you refused to accept my calls; I called your IIST representatives repeatedly and was told you did not want to speak to me and I was never given a reason. Eventually, you sent me an email, stating what you stated below.

    I just checked our records and found out that He request a refund of the course fee and we refunded him the fee 100%.

    Yes. I certainly remember IIST following through with that guarantee. I would have appreciated someone warning me that if I asked for my money back, I would be banned from taking classes needed to complete my certification.

    I also found out that Mr. Jacobson had not provide reason's for his dissatisfaction except he did not like the teaching style of the instructor.

    That’s not true. I provided details in my course evaluation feedback forms that I left you after your course. I believe I gave you some pretty honest candor followed by low scores. I probably mentioned that your course content was impractical and out of touch with real-world software testing challenges. If you were truly interested in reasons for my dissatisfaction, you could have accepted my phone calls. As far as your teaching style, you’re correct. To say I was dissatisfied would be an understatement. You rarely gave your students an opportunity to ask questions and when they did, you didn’t listen to the questions. Instead, you cut them off and provided answers to your own questions.

    Yet, we issued a full refund. 4 years latter, Mr. Jacobson decides to register for another course by the same instructor.

    It was the last class I needed for my certification and you were the only instructor teaching it within the time period I could attend. Trust me, I would have picked a different instructor had one been available.

  6. Eric Jacobson said...


    To avoid further dissatisfaction and avoid another request of refund, we simply do not allow the customer to take another course from the same instructor, especially, the course he was registering for is taught by other instructors at IIST. I wish others did not react to such inaccurate post in the negative manner they did without knowing the facts. If you want to know more about how the world perceive courses from IIST and from this specific instructor, you can read customer comments athttp://www.testinginstitute.com/testimonials.php.

    My father, a small business owner, taught me “the customer is always right”. I love companies that follow that mantra. Yours clearly does not. After spending lots of money and time, you essentially blocked me from achieving my certification.

    Fortunately, NOT getting your company’s silly certification ended up boosting my software testing career into what it is now. Shortly after leaving your world, I discovered the Context-Driven School of testing and all the brilliant testers who relate. I discovered real testing conferences like STPCon, STAR, and CAST. I learned how to easily recognize backwards thinking classes like the one you teach, “Best Practices In Software Testing and Design”; there are no “best practices” in testing. And finally, I learned you don’t need a certification to be an excellent tester.

    Funny thing. I stumbled onto a debate between you and Cem Kaner, posted on your IIST site, not too long ago. I was looking forward to listening to it but apparently you’ve only posted one or two of your own comments. How about posting the entire debate? I tried Googling it but all I found was someone complaining about your aggression on a testing forum and asking the moderator to remove your account.

  7. Ken said...

    Eric,

    Here are links to the debate:
    Cem's position statement - http://www.testinginstitute.com/Bug_Free_Zone/session1.mp3
    Cem's slide deck - http://www.kaner.com/pdfs/IQAACoursesAndCertification.pdf

    Magdy's position statement - http://www.testinginstitute.com/Bug_Free_Zone/session2.mp3

    Magdy's paper - http://www.testinginstitute.com/Bug_Free_Zone/Certification_paper.pdf

    Cem/Magdy Q&A - http://www.testinginstitute.com/Bug_Free_Zone/session3.mp3

    Hope this helps.

    Ken

  8. Eric Jacobson said...

    Thanks, Ken,

    I hadn't heard Cem's mp3. I did hear the mp3's on Madgy's IIST site thought. It would still be nice to hear an uncut Q&A session from the debate.

  9. Dan Pompea said...

    When I see the name Magdy Hanna, my immediate word association is "Snake Oil Salesman". I find no integrity in the man: I made the mistake of trying his Testing Certification Week. The courses were fluff, and irrelevant. The one course that might have made the week salvageable was on Automated Testing. However, the instructor spent all morning and half of the afternoon simply telling the class what automated testing wouldn't do.
    Fortunately, the IIST website boldly proclaimed "We will meet or exceed your expectations. If not, we will refund your registration fee in full." Turns out, that was simply a marketing lie. When I asked for a refund, Dr. Hanna replied with "get lost and know that you will be ignored" and "you won't see a penny from my company...I don't want to hear from you again". Including interest and fees, he now owes me a refund of over $9000.
    A little further investigation on my part and I discovered that there is no "International Institute". It is simply a second name Dr. Hanna uses for his small consulting and training company, Software Dimensions Consulting and Training, Inc. So his "certifications" are little more than receipts for buying his courses. There is no industry consortium, such as would be found in AIAA, IEEE, or INCOSE. IIST is simply a fancy name Dr. Hanna uses to deceive people to buy his courses. This would be similar to the Yugo car company registering a second name, International Institute for Superior Transportation (IIST), and then issuing certifications to Yugo stating they are superior cars.

    Dr. Hanna and his company should be avoided by all. If he really wants to take a place of respect in the software testing community, he should be a man of his word and send me my refund, stop the charade of the "International Institute", and align his courses to helping people obtain REAL certifications, such as that of ISTQB.

    I'm Dan Pompea, and I'll try to add more detail on my site: www.avoid-iist.org

  10. Anonymous said...

    After reviewing various IIST Online courses, and intending to spend from $2,400 to $3,200 on such courses, I encountered
    problems getting some questions answered by IIST staff. I submitted 5 questions, 2 got answered. 3 were left unanswered,
    despite multiple follow-up attempts by me to get then answered. All questions were simple in nature, and spelled out briefly and clearly. Dr. Hanna was CC'd on my last attempt to get answers. Since answers were still not provided after Dr. Hanna's inclusion "in the loop," it appears he approves the poor customer service.

    After encountering such poor customer service, I started giving more serious consideration to many "poor quality" experiences
    I encountered with Course Description pages on the IIST website. Specifically, I repeatedly encountered Course Description with web page Titles for Course A, while the actual web page content was for Course B. For example, the course page with
    "Test Automation Framework Essentials" content has the title Principles of "Software Test Automation."
    The poor quality of website management and poor customer service made me think about yet more "poor quality" experiences I had encountered on the IIST website. For example, course descriptions that had "mangled text," or that were missing vital details (like Prerequisites or Date of Creation or Application(s) used by Instructor).

    One example of the "mangled text" can be found in the "Testing in a Rapid Application Development Environment" description. It is as follows: "The class places emphasis on the traditional testing process looks at it to determine efficiencies that
    streamline the process at the same time as make it more that the effective in order to meet the aggressive deadlines in rapid
    environments."

    One example of the last type of "vital detail" is the description for the "Database Testing: Structured Query Language for Test Professionals." It fails to say what "brand" of database the instructor uses, and it fails to make or any mention of the
    issue of database "brand" as it pertains to the course content. Perhaps the first omission is due to the fact that the instructor never actually demonstrates any of the course content in an actual database application. Also, perhaps all presented content is nothing more words and a Powerpoint-like slide presentation, which would be the worst possible form of
    instruction.

    Of course, as I learned from personal experience, the odds of submitting a question about any of these vital details would go unanswered, perhaps unless you were willing to spend the time and effort to indefinitely repeat them over a long stretch of days.

    Anyhow, based on all of my experiences of various "poor quality" IIST practices, the light finally went on, and the red flag
    finally went up, that I should do some web research to see if others have had poor experiences with IIST. This is how I found your blog posting. It was good to find. It gave me some additional perspective, and it gave me a place to share my "poor
    quality" IIST experiences with anybody else who happens across your blog post.

    No, I will not be spending $2,400 to $3,200 on IIST online courses. If I do spend any money for IIST online courses, the amount will be dramatically less than what I had originally intended. Also, I definitely will not seek any certifications from IIST.

  11. Anonymous said...

    The instructor is not qualified to teach. He may have his credentials, but that does not mean he has the capability to teach others. His courses are of no value and are a waste of time. Any company that offers it's employees IIST courses is throwing away their money. Bottom line...Don't take them !!

  12. Tim said...

    I took an IIST class and waited a month for the Magdy to grade my test. I am glad it took that long as it kept me from registering for another class.



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