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Scripted Testing vs. Exploratory Testing: Choosing Wisely

Author: The MuukTest Team

Last updated: May 29, 2024

scripted testing
Table of Contents

The software industry has seen exponential growth in the past few years. As a result, the number of released apps and programs increases daily. As a result, the quality of these programs has become a primary differentiating factor in assessing how an app performs.

As a result, the importance of Quality Assurance (QA) for software and app development businesses has never been higher. 

To ensure this quality, QA experts use different testing techniques. Two of the most prominent techniques are exploratory testing and scripted testing. 

In this article, we will explore what is exploratory testing, scripted testing and how both these techniques work. We’ll also describe the difference between them and the best scenario in which to use them. 

Let’s get started.


What Is Scripted Testing?

In the scripted testing approach, testers follow a script of predetermined tests and steps. 

Testers don’t deviate from the script, and they can write scripts in different languages. However, testers can also choose to execute test cases manually or with the help of different test automation tools. 


Advantages and Disadvantages of Scripted Testing

This testing has various positives and negatives associated with it. 


  • A scripted test is well-suited to work with test automation tools. 
  • This testing method is excellent in finding any functional issues in the program. 
  • Tracking and repeatability become easy with standardized documentation. 


  • Results can be non-standardized across different testers.
  • This technique doesn’t find many bugs. 
  • It focuses on limited areas constrained by the script from which you cannot deviate.



The Best Scenario to Use Scripted Testing

Scripted testing is suitable for testing any apps associated with high risks, such as financial applications. It is also highly suitable when testers have enough time for planning and documentation. 

This technique requires skilled resources and verification, along with detailed coverage. However, when test coverage becomes mandatory, this technique provides testers with different actions to provide adequate test coverage. 


exploratory testing

What is Exploratory Testing?

This testing technique involves a less structured process. Unlike scripted testing, the tester doesn’t follow any script and has more freedom to perform tests. But, of course, testers also have more responsibility since they can use their knowledge and skills to test how an application performs. 

With exploratory testing, testers can design and perform the test simultaneously. Therefore, they can uncover any issues during the design stage as they mirror the app’s user experience they are working on. This technique is suitable for an agile development approach due to its adaptable nature. 

There are different methods to execute exploratory testing. 

  • Test charters are one way of doing it. These outline the significant functions and features of an app. 
  • Session-based exploratory testing has a test charter as well, but it is time-based rather than functionality-based. 
  • Mind mapping defines the goals of a test charter or session testing.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Exploratory Testing

Here are some key benefits and drawbacks of using exploratory testing.


  • When it goes live, testers can assess an app as it’s in use.
  • It can help find any UI issues or usability problems with an app. 
  • Testing outcomes rely on the tester’s skills, experience, and creativity. 
  • You can get insights into the workings of an app that might not be provided by scripted testing. 


  • No or less documentation is involved in exploratory testing for reference. 
  • Tester’s bias can affect outcomes. 
  • Exploratory testing can miss critical bugs as there is no documentation to refer to. 

When to Use Exploratory Testing?

During the early stages of software development, exploratory testing can be highly effective as the code goes through some quick changes. 

Testers and developers can use it to become familiar with the app and unit tests. The experience gathered from this technique can be used for the later stages of development. 


Scripted Testing vs Exploratory Testing – A Comparison

Some testers might find exploratory testing a bit difficult compared to scripted testing. The primary reason for this is that exploratory testing does not follow a script. Instead, it has a free-form style while still not being ad hoc. 

Both these techniques have their drawbacks. Scripted testing follows a process, but not much experimentation or creative testing goes into the process. Exploratory testing uses the tester’s expertise, but it doesn’t follow any scripts for reference. 

Scripted testing doesn’t take much time and is more accurate, but exploratory testing has more user aspects. For example, exploratory testing might include personal biases and vary from app to app while performing tests.

The following table will assist in finding out the primary differences between these two testing methods. 

Scripted Testing Exploratory Testing
Testers can overcome any lack of knowledge about the domain during the design stage. And with documentation, they have notes to discuss and improve upon.  Testers need a thorough knowledge of the domain and expertise.
A high level of documentation is mandatory No formal documentation, only exploratory documentation.
A significant lead-in time is required. Little to no lead-in time is needed for test execution.
Significant investment is required to prepare the scripts and develop documentation before test execution. Minimal to absolutely no investment in preparing scripts or documentation.
Testers can trace the test scripts and documentation to demonstrate test coverage. No measurable or transparent test coverage. The test results are based on a tester’s report.
Apps are verified with testing against the documented specifications. The test results are compared based on the expectation of the tester and their understanding of how the app is supposed to work.
Testers can conveniently reproduce testing. Only the defects can be reproduced with exploratory testing.
Scripted testing focuses on decision-making and prediction. Exploratory testing emphasizes learning and adaptability.
This approach is more geared towards controlling test processes. This approach is more inclined towards test design improvement.


Final Word

Scripted testing could be ideal if you strictly follow test scripts and documentation. On the other hand, exploratory testing is suitable for testers who prefer to use their knowledge and expertise and find out any UI issues in the app during the design process. 

Both exploratory and scripted testing techniques have pros and cons, but testers can use both techniques for a more comprehensive approach. Testers can harness the advantages of both these methods to assure the quality of work before its release in the market.

If you think test automation is a hectic and time-consuming procedure, you can use MuukTest. The platform is popular between QA testers and developers because it keeps things simple and highly accurate without slowing down the overall testing process