I hope this encourages you to get certified and helps you pass your exams

Certification is not the be all and end all but it can in many companies get your CV over the first hurdle. If I have two candidates with similar experience but one is certified which candidate do you think I would be leaning towards?
I have done courses for certification but I find they focus on passing the exam and not on the subject. By learning yourself then I think you will get a deeper understanding of the subject.

ISTQB-BCS Certified Tester Foundation Level

This is the first step in your quest for certification. To pass this exam I had over 30 years of IT experience and a book. The experience you need to get for yourself, but the book was ISBN 978-1-78017-200-6 Software Testing and ISTQB-BCS Certified Testing Foundation Guide by Brian Hambling. I read the book three times. The first time was an overview read so I could put all the section into place. After the second reading I took a foundation test exam. (passing with 28/40). I then read the book for a third time and took the final two exams papers passing those. I used the book ISBN 142513133-6 Sample Exam Questions ISTQB Certified Tester Foundation Level. This book contains three practice exam papers with answers. I then took the exam getting 88%. I think I could have passed the exam with only two reads of the book but as I want to continue with higher level certifications I thought it best to get a good grounding to my certification.
Foundation Revision Notes
Help Video to get you started
Once you pass your certification then put your Certificate and Candidate Numbers on your PC. Any prospective employer should go to the (British Computer Society) BCS web site and verify your certification. You can buy certification letters and fake certificates so you should encourage perspective employer to verify your hard work.

BCS Intermediate Certificate in Software Testing

To get this certification you need to have passed the ISTQB-BCS Certified Tester Foundation Level exam. I go the book ISBN 978-1-906124-13-7 Software Testing and ISEB Intermediate Certificate by Brain Hambling and Angelina Samaroo. This really builds on the foundation information and I would suggest you take this second certification as close as you can to the first certification so foundation is still exam clear in your mind. I read this through twice and took and passed the exam with 96% within a month of passing the foundation exam.
I made some revision notes as I went through the book and hope they help you. Intermediate Revision Notes