ISTO Test of Understanding

An introduction to the first-in-industry tests of understanding of ISO management system standards

What is an ISTO Test of Understanding?

The ISTO Test is a multiple-choice test aimed at establishing the level of understanding a candidate possesses in respect of a specific ISO management system standard (e.g. ISO 9001:2015). It focuses not only on understanding the requirements of a standard but is also designed to ensure that those who pass the Test have demonstrated a knowledge of the underlying management system principles, respective definitions and the standard' s practical implementation.

It is aimed at:

  • Certifying the candidate on their understanding of the respective standard
  • Measuring the level of understanding in the eight (8) A C C U R A T E domains
  • Ranking a candidate' s performance in a personalised analytics report

Structure of the Test

The Test consists of multiple choice questions with four (4) possible suggested solutions of which only one (1) correct or best alternative, which is the answer, and incorrect or inferior alternatives, known as distractors.

The ISTO test is a closed-book test however candidates are allowed to refer to an unmarked copy of the respective ISO standard which is the only permitted item during the test.

Candidates meeting the Pass criteria will be awarded a Certificate of Achievement. All candidates will receive an A C C U R A T E report indicating their level of understanding and relative ranking in each of the eight (8) domains. See Appendix I.

ISTO tests will be delivered electronically through an online e-assessment platform with AI invigilation, allowing candidates to take the test at their convenience, at their office or at home. In a physical location, it can be supervised by an invigilator. 

Test Levels and Fees

We offer three levels of ISTO Tests for taking. By April 2024, we will be offering test-taking for Level 2. 

  • Level 1: the fundamental test to show you have an understanding to be a system follower and user of the standard. Coming in Q3 2024. 
  • Level 2: the test offered for professionals, ranging from auditors, consultants and responsible persons.
  • Level 3: the most advanced test to show you are the expert in the subject matter. Coming in January 2025. 

Test of
Level 1

Test of
Level 2

Test of
Level 3

Test fee





(general users)

(auditors, consultants, responsible persons)

(tutors, course developers)


System follower

System developer, implementer

Source of competence

Duration (min)




Pass criteria




No. of questions




What will a candidate receive from an ISTO Test of Understanding

Certificate of Achievement

1. ISTO Certificate of Achievement

A certificate certificating the candidate's on the understanding of the respective ISO management system standard.

All certificates can be verified externally via a unique URL link. 

2. A C C U R A T E Analysis 


Based on ISTO's research, endorsed by the ISTO Technical Advisory Board, the level of comprehension of an ISO management system standard can be grouped into eight (8) domains of understanding.
These form the acronym A C C U R A T E.

Ac: an Actual requirement in the standard related to documentation.
Co: Concept - the management principles on which the management system standard is based. This includes the sequence of activities as required in the standard.
C: the unique Clause reference of a specific requirement in the ISO management system standard
U: an Unspecified requirement in the standard (a requirement that does not exist).
R: a certain Requirement in the Standard (i.e. the text of the requirement).
A: the Applicability of the standard. This includes the intent of a requirement, and the scope of the standard.
T: Terms and definitions used in the standard. Generally these are defined in Clause 3 of each ISO management system standard. In the case of ISO 9001 QMS, terms and definitions are defined in the ISO 9000 standard.
E: an Erroneous requirement in the standard related to documentation.

For a detailed explanation of the octagon star diagram, please refer to the J33 explanatory notes.

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