The Role of Exploratory Testing in Regression Testing: A Comprehensive Approach

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Exploratory testing is gaining massive popularity in the software testing industry. This test explores the functionality of the software application and detects bugs that might be missed during the script-based test. It helps the QA team to analyze and evaluate the issues or errors in the software application based on their knowledge and perception. This does not require them to follow a strict path of test cases. Due to the high demand for faster release of software applications in the market, more companies are implementing exploratory testing as an integral part of their testing strategy.

Exploratory testing in regression testing is critical in identifying bugs or errors and ensuring that the application continues to behave as expected once changes are live. Regression testing discovers and fixes any unprecedented changes that might occur due to new amendments, bug fixes, or software updates.

Any changes or defects that have been previously missed can easily be identified through exploratory testing, ensuring that the software applications continue to work with correct functionality at their capacity.

In this blog, we’ll dig a bit deeper into this topic to understand the role of  Exploratory Testing in Regression Testing and why it is essential.

Understanding Regression Testing

Imagine you have a well-functioning software that’s been tested thoroughly. Now, let’s say you make some changes or add new features. Regression testing comes into play to ensure that these modifications keep the existing functionality.

Regression testing aims to confirm that the software still behaves as expected after these changes. It’s like double-checking that everything works smoothly and that the tweaks didn’t break anything.

To achieve this, different techniques are used. One common approach is retesting, where previously tested parts of the software are tested again to ensure they haven’t been affected. Test cases are carefully selected and prioritized based on their impact and relevance to the changes made. Automation Testing also plays a role, making the process more efficient.

By employing these strategies, regression testing helps reduce the risk of introducing bugs or issues when modifying software. It ensures the stability and reliability of the system, giving you confidence that your software remains intact even with new updates.

Understanding Exploratory Testing

Exploratory testing is your approach to uncovering the hidden secrets of the software you’re testing. Instead of following a predefined set of test cases, you dive right in, exploring its functionalities and learning as you go.

This approach emphasizes flexibility and creativity. You design and execute tests on the fly, adapting as you discover new aspects of the software. It’s like embarking on an exciting journey, uncovering defects and issues along the way.

Early defect detection is one of the perks of exploratory testing. You can catch bugs that regression tests have yet to notice. You also achieve improved test coverage because you’re not limited to predefined scenarios. The dynamic nature of exploratory testing allows you to adapt and focus on areas that need more attention.

Role of Exploratory Testing in Regression Testing

Exploratory testing can contribute to the effectiveness and thoroughness of regression testing by providing a fresh perspective and uncovering potential defects that might have been missed through traditional regression testing approaches.

Here are some key points that highlight the role of exploratory testing in regression testing:

  • Uncovering new defects: As stated above, Exploratory testing is necessary because it explores issues that were not tested earlier or are barely covered by standard test cases.
  • Identifying areas of ambiguity for comprehensive testing: Explanatory testing in Regression testing adds an extra layer of authentication to identify areas of vulnerability that may require attention during regression testing.
  • Verifying the fixes:  Once the issues are resolved, exploratory testing helps verify that they’ve been appropriately implemented, thereby ensuring error-free testing.
  • Help in providing feedback to the developers:  Using Exploratory testing, testers can offer real feedback to the development team on the software’s performance and the user’s response. Utilizing this feedback will make the next build or release even better.
  • Uncovering New Scenarios: Exploratory testing enables testers to approach the software from fresh angles, exploring uncharted territories that may have been missed in previous regression testing cycles. By actively investigating the software, testers can uncover new paths, interactions, and edge cases, unveiling regression defects that might have gone unnoticed. This proactive approach expands the coverage of regression testing and identifies potential issues that might have been overlooked.
  • Adapting to Changes: Exploratory testing shines when changes or updates are made to the software. It helps validate the impact of these modifications on existing functionality and identifies unexpected regressions. Testers can dynamically create and execute tests, focusing on the areas that have been modified to ensure that the changes haven’t introduced new defects. The flexibility of exploratory testing makes it an indispensable component of regression testing, especially in agile or fast-paced development environments.
  • Exploring Interactions: While regression testing often concentrates on testing individual components or features in isolation, exploratory testing allows testers to explore the interactions between different elements. This holistic perspective helps identify regression issues that may arise from integrating various software parts. Examining the system as a whole and observing how other elements interact allows testers to uncover regression defects that isolated regression tests may have missed.
  • Finding Hidden Defects: The creative and flexible nature of exploratory testing empowers testers to think outside the box and discover hidden defects that regression tests may overlook. Testers leverage their skills, knowledge, and intuition to actively explore the software, increasing the chances of finding regression defects manifesting in unique scenarios. The exploratory mindset allows testers to identify unexpected issues, evaluate the software’s behavior from different user perspectives, and uncover regression defects that reveal themselves under specific conditions.

Exploratory testing brings fresh perspectives, adaptability, and creativity to regression testing. By embracing this approach, testers can enhance test coverage, adapt to changes effectively, explore interactions, and uncover hidden defects, ultimately improving the quality and robustness of the software. You can leverage the true capability of exploratory and regression testing by performing tests on a cloud-based platform like LambdaTest, a cloud-based digital experience testing platform that enables developers and testers to conduct efficient and effective testing across 3000+ browsers, operating systems, and devices with its comprehensive set of features and capabilities.

LambdaTest provides a user-friendly and real device cloud for exploratory testing that allows testers to explore software dynamically without the constraints of predefined test cases. Testers can access a wide range of real browsers and devices in the cloud, enabling them to uncover hidden defects, explore different scenarios, and validate software behavior across various environments.

Regarding regression testing, LambdaTest offers a scalable and reliable infrastructure that supports parallel testing. Testers can execute regression tests simultaneously on multiple browsers and devices, significantly reducing testing time and effort. LambdaTest’s automation capabilities further streamline the regression testing process, allowing testers to automate repetitive tasks and focus on analyzing results and addressing critical issues.

Advantages of Combining Both Approaches

Combining both exploratory testing and regression testing approaches offers several advantages in software testing. Let’s explore some key benefits:

  • Comprehensive Test Coverage: By combining these approaches, testers can achieve a higher level of test coverage. Exploratory testing allows testers to dynamically explore the software, uncovering hidden defects, edge cases, and interactions that regression tests may not cover. Combining exploratory and regression testing ensures more comprehensive coverage of the software, reducing the chances of critical defects going unnoticed.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability: Exploratory testing complements regression testing by offering flexibility and adaptability. Testers can explore the software with an open mindset, adapting their testing to changing requirements, new features, or updates. This flexibility allows testers to respond quickly to changes and ensures that the testing process remains effective throughout the software development lifecycle.
  • Improved Defect Detection: Exploratory testing encourages creativity and critical thinking, enabling testers to identify unexpected defects, usability issues, or edge cases that predefined test cases may not have covered. The synergy between both approaches increases the chances of detecting a more comprehensive range of defects and ensuring higher software quality.
  • Tester Engagement and Expertise: Exploratory testing empowers testers to use their creativity and intuition, actively exploring the software. By combining both exploratory and regression testing, organizations can tap into the unique skills of their testers, leading to better collaboration and improved testing outcomes.
  • Time and Resource Optimization: Exploratory testing helps identify defects that Regression tests might have missed and provide valuable insights for improving the test suite. Organizations can balance efficient testing and comprehensive defect detection by strategically combining both approaches, leading to more efficient resource allocation and better testing outcomes.

Exploratory Testing in Regression Testing: Best Practices

Here are some best practices for incorporating exploratory testing into regression testing:

  • Define clear objectives to align exploratory testing with regression testing goals.
  • Plan and prioritize exploratory testing activities based on areas prone to regression issues or significant changes.
  • Equip testers with heuristics, techniques, and tools to aid their exploratory testing.
  • Maintain documentation to track test ideas, observations, defects, and lessons learned.
  • Foster collaboration and knowledge sharing among testers to enhance collective understanding and identify regression issues.
  • Continuously learn and improve exploratory testing techniques.
  • Strike a balance between exploratory testing and regression testing to achieve comprehensive coverage.


In regression testing, exploratory testing is crucial for achieving a comprehensive approach to software testing. By incorporating exploratory testing alongside regression testing methods, organizations can benefit from more extensive test coverage, increased flexibility, improved defect detection, enhanced tester engagement, and optimized resource utilization.

Exploratory testing brings a fresh perspective to regression testing, allowing testers to uncover new scenarios, adapt to changes, explore interactions, and find hidden defects that might be missed by regression tests alone. It complements the structured and repeatable nature of regression testing by providing a dynamic and creative testing approach.

The combination of both approaches helps organizations achieve a higher level of test coverage, ensuring that critical functionalities, edge cases, and interactions are thoroughly examined. It also enables testers to adapt quickly to changes in the software, providing an effective testing process throughout the software development lifecycle.

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About the Author: Ranjit Ranjan

More than 15 years of experience in web development projects in countries such as US, UK and India. Blogger by passion and SEO expert by profession.

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