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In recent years, there have been inquiries relating to the exploratory testing meaning, what it is about, its significance, and how it is done.

Exploratory testing allows testers to transcend limits familiarized with scripted testing. It is software testing used in software engineering that has promising components when compared to scripted testing.

Exploratory Testing Meaning: What is And Why is it Important?

Exploratory testing develops a test, scrutinizes the result, implements it swiftly, and uses it for another test. Predominantly, the test is executed to explore the system, test the tester’s thinking, and facilitate testers’ real-time and pragmatic thinking. Besides, exploratory tests involve test learning, design, and execution procedures simultaneously. In line with this, it is extensively adopted in Agile models.

Why do Exploratory Testing?

Have you ever thought of why you should do exploratory testing? Well, there are a couple of things that make it worth it. However, using this type of testing is worth it because the few minutes spent well finds more defects. 

Here are some reasons why you should do an exploratory test:

  • In disparity to scripted testing, you can do testing from test design to test execution as a single process at the same time. This approach isn’t available on scripted testing.
  • When you use both software testers, it finds more defects than scripted testing. According to statistics, it discloses at least 29% more defects and bugs that might not be detected through scripted testing. 
  • It functions flawlessly when detecting complex bugs, which may seem extraordinarily problematic for scripted testing to locate.

Benefits of Exploratory Testing 

There are benefits to relish since it has several advantages it can render to its user. When the software tester is used, it comes with substantial benefits. First, it examines and finds extra bugs. When you do usual or recurrent testing, you are likely not to detect any bugs, but this test makes it possible to discover hidden bugs and deficiencies.

Also, other testing software might have ignored some bugs, which makes the user believe there is no problem. Since the method is swift, it checks the results, executes them, and uses them for the next test. All bugs are uncovered and revealed shortly after using this testing technique, and this reliability gives it an edge over others. Similarly, new ideas can be generated when executing a test. 

In addition, it permits minimal documentation, avoids duplicate work, and provides maximum testing. These benefits are essential to its use, making it a suitable testing option. 

Challenges of Exploratory Testing

It is believed that there are cons or shortcomings to something good, which is agreeable to an extent, and that nothing is perfect. In line with this, exploratory testing technique is not without any challenge. 

To begin with, the application mandates time to understand completely. This will no longer be a challenge when the tester gets familiar with the application. Users or testers don’t get familiar with it instantly and are inclined to miss out on its efficacy on the first try.

Also, the tester’s experience, knowledge, and skill will determine the success and effectiveness of the test. In short, the tester must be experienced, informed, and highly agile to get the best out of the tester. Moreover, it is stringent to record the documentation of all events when test execution is active. As a result, some events might get lost in the process.

In addition, an exploratory test is restricted to the domain understanding of who is testing the software. The testing solely relies on the tester’s skill, which needs to be improved to execute long-time tests. This challenge can be resolved when an exploratory test is done simultaneously with scripted testing.

These challenges don’t connote that software testing is less prolific. Its benefits make it top-notch, and it remains one of the best used in software engineering. 

Exploratory Testing Example

The benefits and challenges have been identified and explained. Now, exploratory testing examples are discussed below:

Example 1: A barbershop service provider website with components like login, types of service, samples of hairstyles, booking a session, payment, haircut history, stylist allotment, and so on. To test if the login functionality is working properly for a new or existing user, you navigate to the login page and test for cases like the format of the username and password, the maximum number of characters allowed, and so on.

You explore the website to know the types of characters allowed, whether they are alphanumeric or a mixture of symbols, letters, and numbers. Also, after discovering the format, you should note the message prompt given to the user when the rule guiding the username and password format is violated, whether it says “incorrect username,” “incorrect password,” or “blocked account.”

In addition, you can go on to check if the “Forgot Password” or “Remember login details” functionality works well. These are only related to the login functionality. You could go on to test other components of the barbershop website.

Example 2: Another example could be to test a loan application to ensure users can get loans after some verification steps or KYC (know your customer) have been carried out. To make sure the application doesn’t give a loan to a user who hasn’t been verified, you can go through each verification step as a user and take note of any error messages.

Also, which verification steps are optional or mandatory, and does the application approve users who fail the mandatory verification step? One of the verification steps could be to provide your nine-digit SSN (Social Security Number), which has been integrated with the US government’s database. If the user supplies an eight-digit number or the wrong SSN, the application gives a prompt of “incorrect SSN” or “incomplete SSN.”

You can also note if this step is mandatory or optional. If the application permits that users go on to get loans without verifying their SSN, then it is a fault that you have to report.

How to Execute Exploratory Testing

You cannot execute exploratory testing examples carelessly. There are specific steps to abide by to achieve the best results. How to execute the testing can also be referred to as SBTM Cycle (Session Based Test Management). The following process is a step-by-step guide on how to perform the test:

Step 1: Induce a Bug Category

  • Create a classification of bugs by categorizing common breakdowns or problems experienced in past projects. For instance, if a page keeps crashing, this problem should be categorized.
  • Scrutinize and review the root of the problem by doing a thorough root cause analysis of the fault.
  • Locate the risks and formulate designs and ideas to test them.

Step 2: Test Charter

  • Test Charter consists of what should be focused on, what is to be tested, and how to test it.
  • Testing ideas mark the inception of the whole testing and give significance to what is exploratory testing and how it can be utilized.

Step 3: Time Box

  • This session encompasses numerous pairs of testers incorporated and working simultaneously for not below 90 minutes.
  • During this time, it should not be discontinued for any reason.
  • The time box can surpass 45 minutes or less than 45 minutes.
  • This method authorizes testers to notice the system’s response and get inclined for an accurate outcome.

Step 4: Results Reviewing

  • Results are thoroughly checked and reviewed in this session.
  • Defects are evaluated and checked appropriately.
  • Coverage areas are analyzed and scanned thoroughly.
  • Testers learn from the testing.

Step 5: Test report and Debriefing

  • In this session, the outcome of the test is reported and compiled.
  • Scanning to confirm whether another test is required or not.
  • Scanning to check whether all bugs have been identified.
  • To correlate the results with the charter.

Types of Exploratory Testing

types of exploratory testing

The execution of the test has been highlighted. Now, the types will be specified. The following are the types of exploratory testing identified:

Strategy Based Testing

This type of testing requires a tester who is familiar with the application. Also, it requires specific techniques like risk-based technique, equivalence-based technique, error guessing, boundary value analysis, and so on. The tester must have the experience to get the best out of this testing. 

These techniques are then used for testing and to identify more problem-inducing bugs. However, this testing type is best when an expert has in-depth knowledge of the software.

Freestyle Testing

As the name implies, Freestyle testing doesn’t require any official steps or rules guiding its use. The purpose is to test particular bugs or authenticate various testers’ works. Under this type, testers can use the application without a specific format or set of structures. 

In contrast to strategy-based testing, freestyle testing only requires being a partial expert before this type of testing can be used. Also, this testing can be borrowed when you need to get familiar with the application or analyze defects. Still, at least little familiarity with the application is necessary.

Scenario Based Testing 

This type of testing is based on real users. In contrast to freestyle testing, which is limited to specific things, the reason for this testing is to explore and test numerous scenarios. These scenarios are tested and then explored to match every other possible scenario. 

It ranges from end-to-end scenarios to real-user scenarios and test scenarios. Besides, scenarios are gathered from different categories to provide maximum and thorough testing.

When not to use Exploratory Testing 

The advantages and benefits of exploratory testing are no longer news, but there are times when it is unnecessary. As an illustration, some areas during test execution need close monitoring, and it is better if it is done via other means. The following are areas where an exploratory test is less important:

Areas that need close monitoring and teamwork

There are delicate and closely monitored facets during test execution, including regression tests, automated build verification tests, and performance tests. Applying the test in these areas is redundant since it would only add a little value. No extra information or meaningful impact would be added to the quality of the work done. Instead, it debilitates the team’s productivity. 

Thus, in this case, it should not be used. A regular scripted test might be more prolific and used for primary test runs and test results. If an exploratory test is not used, it goes a long way in encouraging, building, and executing a balanced test technique. Also, it prompts team members and promotes extra productivity when undergoing testing tasks. In addition, it facilitates collective ideas amongst team members.

Compliance Testing 

When compliance testing is involved, it is advisable not to do an exploratory test. In this area, scripted testing becomes more relevant and valuable. In compliance testing, the tester must stick to specific necessities like government mandates, checklists, legal certifications, and other domain-based tests. 

If an exploratory test is carried out, it might not adhere to these necessities. Besides, compliance testing usually requires a scripted flow. However, this is only sometimes the case. It can vary according to the technique adopted by another experienced tester. It is advisable to adopt ad-hoc, exploratory, and scripted testing to get the best results.

When used without Scripted Testing

Exploratory tests should not be used without scripted testing. You get the best results when both tests are used simultaneously. Although an exploratory test might have certain advantages over scripted testing, it doesn’t mean that scripted testing should be avoided totally. The former is seen as an upgrade to the latter, but they can both be used for basic testing to get the best results.

Furthermore, balancing the two testing techniques is essential rather than sticking to only one. The right coverage is obtained when both techniques are used and within cost and time constraints. Hence, it is crucial to reject the extensive use of exploratory tests or reject using an exploratory test alone. Accompanying an exploratory test with scripted testing yields the best results and can be used in almost all areas without limitations.


In a nutshell, you must have learned about exploratory testing meaning, its importance, benefits, challenges, types, and so on. Exploratory tests are best enjoyed when administered by an expert who is familiar with the application. Exploratory and scripted tests are the business’s best, most reliable, and most used software testing.