Getting Started with Exploratory Testing

The key for having an exploratory testing is that it’s not a test technique or the items were tested or being reviewed, but the cognitive commitment of a tester, as well as its responsibility to manage the time.

What is Exploratory Testing?

Exploratory testing is considered as the approach to testing the software, which is described concisely as the test execution, test design, and simultaneous learning. In 1984, Cem Kaner coined the terminology as the style of the software testing, which emphasizing not only the personal freedom but also the responsibility of the individual tester in order to optimize the quality of the work in a continuous way by treating the test-related learning, text execution, text design, as well as the interpretation of the test results as a supportive mutual activity running in the project.

How and When to Use the Exploratory Testing?

Using the exploratory testing, you don’t have to wait for a long period of time and it only focuses more on intellectual approach, thus agile test is guaranteed. Also, it can easily and seamlessly detect the bugs if there’s any and it doesn’t require any documentation.

You can use the exploratory testing if you have to learn and understand the product in an agile way and then provide a quick feedback to it. It can also be applicable if you are having a hard time understanding what to do next. Also, you can use it to diversify the process of the testing after doing the scripts. Lastly, it is used to make a brief check of the work of other tests.


Using the exploratory testing, you have to remember that it will require you to have a certain mindset. And because of its unstructured nature, you should give much of your attention as you may more likely lose your focus into it. And because of its performing ‘on-the-fly’, you may find it hard to define in which the tests are running, and you may encounter difficulty in repeating the cases if you have to.

Also, it is viewed that exploratory testing will not be great without the help of scripted testing. These two are known to be two kinds of partnering approaches that may not be mutually exclusive yet fully compatible, as well as can be used to test in the same projects. Also, it is criticized that most of the problems in the software testing cannot be solved using only one approach, meaning exploratory and scripted testing should always come together at different stages of the process.

Concrete Example

We are becoming more and more exploratory once we didn’t understand what kind of test needs to be done in an advanced cycle of the test or once we are in a circumstance of not creating those tests. When we are running a scripted test and when new data comes that suggesting a better technique, we may more likely have to switch to the exploratory mode. The result on the exploratory test is not radically different compared to the scripted test results, yet they are still compatible with each other. The companies such as Microsoft and Nortel are using both these approaches on similar projects.

— Slimane Zouggari