What are K-levels?

A K-level, or Cognitive level, is used to classify learning objectives according to the revised taxonomy from Bloom [Anderson 2001]. ISTQB® uses this taxonomy to design its syllabi examinations.

Questions with different K-levels may be awarded with different pre-defined scores to reflect their cognitive level.

The Foundation and Advanced exams cover four different K-levels (K1 to K4):

  • K1 (Remember) = The candidate should remember or recognize a term or a concept.
  • K2 (Understand) = The candidate should select an explanation for a statement related to the question topic.
  • K3 (Apply) = The candidate should select the correct application of a concept or technique and apply it to a given context.
  • K4 (Analyze) = The candidate can separate information related to a procedure or technique into its constituent parts for better understanding and can distinguish between facts and inferences.

The Expert level exams include five different K-levels (K2 to K6), with the two additional higher K-levels:

  • K5 (Evaluate) = The candidate may make judgments based on criteria and standards. He detects inconsistencies or fallacies within a process or product, determines whether a process or product has internal consistency and detects the effectiveness of a procedure as it is being implemented.
  • K6 (Create) = The candidate puts elements together to form coherent or functional whole. Typical application is to reorganize elements into a new pattern or structure, devise a procedure for accomplishing some task or invent a product.


[Anderson 2001] Anderson, L. & Krathwohl, D. A. (2001) Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives New York: Longman