Everything You Need to Know About Exploratory Testing


Exploratory testing is an approach to software testing that is often described as simultaneous learning, test design, and execution. It focuses on discovery and relies on the guidance of the individual tester to uncover defects that are not easily covered in the scope of other tests.

Table of Content

What is Exploratory Testing?

Exploratory Testing is a type of software testing where Test cases are not created in advance but testers check system on the fly. They may note down ideas about what to test before test execution. The focus of exploratory testing is more on testing as a "thinking" activity.

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When do we use Exploratory Testing?

Under Scripting Testing, you design the test case first and later the process for test execution exploratory testing is simultaneous process of the test case design and test execution all done at the same time. Functionality is checked in a structured manner, but Exploratory testing is checked in ad hoc manner

  • When the requirement is missing
  • You need to learn product quickly and provide rapid feedback
  • Early iteration is required
  • The testing team has experience tester
  • When we have critical application

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Exploratory Testing Techniques

Exploratory testing is an approach to testing software that emphasizes the freedom and creativity of the tester to dynamically explore the application under test (AUT). Here are some techniques commonly used in exploratory testing:

1: Ad Hoc Testing:

This is the most basic form of exploratory testing where testers explore the software without any specific test cases or predefined steps. Testers rely on their domain knowledge and intuition to find defects.

2: Scenario Testing:

Testers create and execute scenarios that represent typical user workflows or critical paths through the application. These scenarios are usually not scripted but are developed on-the-fly based on the tester's understanding and exploration.

3: Domain Testing:

Focuses on specific areas or domains within the application. Testers with deep domain knowledge explore these areas thoroughly to uncover potential issues that might be missed in scripted testing.

4: Error Guessing:

Testers leverage their experience and intuition to guess where errors or vulnerabilities might exist in the software. This involves making educated guesses based on common pitfalls and previous experience with similar systems.

5: Exploratory Test Tours:

This technique involves systematically exploring different aspects of the application. Examples include exploring different user roles (user tour), testing various interfaces (UI tour), or examining specific features (feature tour).

6: Pair Testing:

Two testers work together to explore the application. One tester focuses on executing tests and exploring the application, while the other observes and takes notes. They frequently swap roles to bring different perspectives and ideas.

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How to Perform Exploratory Testing?

To perform Exploratory Testing, first, we start understanding the application and the requirements of the application from a person who has good product knowledge such as a senior test engineer, and developer. Then we will explore the application and write the necessary documents. We can test the application based on our knowledge and take the help of the compactivity product, which has already been launched on the market. The following steps follow to Test Exploratory Testing

1: Classification of bug taxonomy

  • Grouping of the common faults and errors through past projects.
  • Identifying the source of those faults or errors.
  • Eventually, design relevant tests for the application.

2. Test Charter

Through test charter, the following things should come up:

  • Everything that needs to be tested
  • Methods to successfully test
  • What needs further checking

The ideas for starting the tests are key for exploratory testing. Test charter is a crucial decider for the efficiency of the use of the system by the user.

3. Time Box

  • This is a specific method, including two testers running together for at least an hour and a half.
  • No interruptions should occur within those 90 minutes mandatorily.
  • You can make a maximum extension or reduction of 45 minutes.
  • This is an interactive method for users to analyze live problems and devise their solutions.

4. Review Results

  • Determining the complete coverage area.
  • Proper knowledge from the tests.
  • Identification of the errors.

5. Debriefing

  • Grouping of the results.
  • Comparison of those outputs with the test charter.
  • Check for the requirement of excess tests.

Types of Exploratory Testing

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1: Free style Exploratory Testing

This is the most basic from exploratory testing types, we did not follow any rules, we have complete freedom to explore the application without any predefined test script or guidelines. Tester relay on their domain knowledge and experience to design and Execute test case

2: Strategy based Exploratory Testing

Strategy based Exploratory Testing can be performed help of different testing techniques such as risk-based boundary value analysis, equivalence partitioning and error seeding, It is done by an experienced tester who is using the application for the longest time because the application is known very much.

3: Scenario based Exploratory Testing

Tester focuses on exploring specific user scenarios or use case within the software application. scenario based exploratory testing is performed with multiple scenario such as end to end test scenario and real user scenario

Advantages of Exploratory Testing

  • Less preparation required:

It takes no preparation as it is an unscripted testing technique.

  • Finds critical defects:

Exploratory testing involves an investigation process that helps to find critical defects very quickly.

  • Improves productivity:

In exploratory testing, testers use their knowledge, skills, and experience to test the software. It helps to expand the imagination of the testers by executing more test cases, thus enhancing the overall quality of the software.

  • Generation of new ideas:

Exploratory testing encourages creativity and intuition thus the generation of new ideas during test execution.

  • Catch defects missed in test cases:

Exploratory testing helps to uncover bugs that are normally ignored by other testing techniques.

Disadvantage of Exploratory Testing

  • Not possible to repeat test methodology:

Due to the ad-hoc nature of testing in exploratory testing, tests are done randomly and thus it is not suitable for longer execution time, and it is not possible to repeat the same test methodology.

  • Tests cannot be reviewed in advance:

In exploratory testing, it is performed randomly so once testing is performed it cannot be reviewed.

  • Dependent on the testers knowledge:

In exploratory testing, the testing is dependent on the testers knowledge, experience, and skill. Thus, it is limited by the testers domain knowledge.

  • Difficult to keep track of tests:

In Exploratory testing, it is performed in an ad-hoc manner, keeping track of tests performed is difficult.

Challenges of Exploratory Testing

There are many challenges of exploratory testing and those are explained below

  • Learning to use the application or software system is a challenge
  • Replication of failure is difficult
  • Determining whether tools need to be used can be challenging
  • Determine the best test cases to execute can be difficult
  • Reporting of the test results is a challenge as the report doesn't have planned scripts or cases to compare with the actual result or outcome
  • Documentation of all event's during execution is difficult to record
  • Know when to stop the testing as exploratory testing has definite test cases to execute.


Exploratory tests are conducted by exploring the application/software and verifying its functionality and operation to find defects or bugs in order. Many advantages come with exploratory testing, such as its adaptability, versatility and capacity to address unexpected scenarios. This method helps testers to swiftly evaluate the functionality of the software and spot possible problems, which makes it especially useful early in a project or when dealing with changing requirements. A software product that incorporates exploratory validations within the testing lifecycle is more robust and dependable.

We assume that you surely want to unlock your software's full potential with expert exploratory testing, isn't it? Look no further, hire a trusted software testing companylike PixelQA to uncover hidden issues and optimize user experience seamlessly.

About Author

Ashok MakwanaAshok Makwana is a seasoned Quality Assurance professional with a passion for continuous learning. He started his journey as a QA in September 2020 and embraced challenges as opportunities for growth. His drive to excel led him to aspire to become a Lead QA Manager, exemplifying dedication and expertise in his field. With a proactive approach and a thirst for knowledge, Ashok Makwana embodies the spirit of lifelong learning and achievement in quality assurance.