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Exploratory Testing Techniques with Examples

We are very well aware that testing in software engineering is inevitable. Testing helps testers detect bugs and issues in software and verifies whether the software meets the client’s requirements. One such software testing type is exploratory testing.

Exploratory software testing is typically used in agile models. As its name suggests, exploratory testing implies exploring a particular software – what the software does, how it works with complicated and straightforward cases, etc. When less or no specifications are provided about the software and the time is extremely inadequate, then this testing is carried out.

What is Exploratory Testing?

In exploratory software testing, testers are not prepared with the test cases for testing software; instead, they check a particular system instinctively. In other terms, testers plan, analyze, design, and execute tests immediately. This type of testing involves less planning and more test execution. It entirely depends upon testers’ thoughts. Hence, software testing quality depends on the tester’s expertise in designing test cases.

This testing is a type of black-box testing. Testers explore more bugs and defects in the software using exploratory testing than other formal testings. Unlike the exploratory testing, testers in scripted testing plan and design test cases in advance for execution. In scripted testing, testers perform the test and compare the outcome with the expected result, whereas, test outcomes in this testing are open.

Exploratory testing requires testers to be creative in planning and designing test cases. On the contrary, testers performing scripted testing do not need more cognitive skills, as they perform pre-planned and outlined tests and compare the outcomes with expected results. This testing is also referred to as ad-hoc testing and is highly rigorous and unstructured.

How To Perform Exploratory Testing?

Here is a guide for you to perform testing. It is also referred to as the session-based test management (SBTM) Cycle.

1. Classify Bugs

Firstly, you need to categorise bugs or faults detected in the previous projects or systems. Determine the cause of each bug or fault detected. Identify risks depending upon bugs and come up with creative ideas for performing successful testing.

2. Prepare A Test Charter

Design a test charter containing information, like what to test, how to test, and what part of the testing to be focused. Exploratory testing starts when you come up with test ideas. When you develop a test charter, testers can identify how users should use the system.

3. Time Box

Exploratory testing in software testing involves a couple of testers performing tests on the system for around 90 minutes. This timebox can be increased or reduced by 45 minutes. There should not be any interruption, even for a single minute. Testers perform a single test on the system, wait for its outcome, check how it responds, and if anything goes erroneous, they have to again prepare for the correct result.

4. Results

Here, you need to evaluate defects present in the system and analyse coverage areas. After testing, you must compile the outcome and compare it with the results that you prepared in the test charter. Finally, verify whether there is a need for any additional testing. Other testings, like Boundary Value Analysis, Equivalence partitioning, error guessing, etc. can be used along with the exploratory testing.

Exploratory software testing is carried out in sessions and primarily focuses on testers’ skills and knowledge.

Types of Exploratory Testing

There are three different types of exploratory testing in software testing – freestyle exploratory testing, scenario-based exploratory testing, and strategy-based testing.

1. Freestyle Exploratory Testing

As its name indicates, freestyle testing is performed in an ad-hoc manner, and it does not involve a lengthy or broad set of procedures and guidelines. The freestyle exploratory testing is carried out in the following situations:

  • When one tester needs to validate other testers’ testing performance.
  • When a tester requires to get familiar with the system.
  • A tester needs to identify the defect.
  • When a tester is required to carry out the smoke test.

2. Scenario-based Exploratory Testing

Scenario-based testing is performed depending upon scenarios. The client may give these scenarios, or the testing team itself may prepare them. When the initial testing is performed, testers carry out further testing based on the initial testing’s knowledge.

3. Strategy-based Exploratory Testing

Strategy-based testing is performed along with other testing techniques, like error guessing, decision table based testing, and cause-effect graphing. A tester having in-depth knowledge about the system is best suited to carry out the strategy-based testing.

Exploratory Testing Example

A tester working on a live project is intended to carry out exploratory testing to detect defects or bugs in the system. Applications from any field, like, telecom, healthcare, finance, etc., can undergo exploratory testing. We shall discuss an example of exploratory testing to get a precise idea about it.

Consider a tester is given a small project, which involves an application to perform the addition of a new Mutual fund. A tester was required to test-

  • The application to ensure that the required computation is correct and
  • The new Mutual fund is within easy reach for users.

This task was to be carried out in two days. Therefore, a tester can go for exploratory testing to check both the above conditions. During this testing, a tester can produce the following test cases –

  • A test case to ensure that a new Mutual fund computation is added to the application.
  • A test case to ensure that a new Mutual fund valuation is accurate.
  • Test case to verify whether a new Mutual fund can be incorporated in all Portfolios.
  • A test case to look at the impact of the new MF on the system.

Merits And Demerits Of Exploratory Testing


  1. The most significant bugs from the system are detected quickly.
  2. It requires less preparation.
  3. It primarily focuses on expanding the tester’s learning skills and knowledge.
  4. Exploratory testing detects bugs that could not be found by other testings.
  5. It is used to explore new features of the system within less time.


  1. This testing is based on a tester’s expertise and knowledge. Hence, this testing requires highly skilled and experienced testers.
  2. It is not suitable for a longer execution time.
Do You Know?
1. What is Regression Testing?
2. What is White Box testing?
3. What is black box testing?
4. What is Exploratory Testing?

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