How to Improve Your Testing Skills and Beat the Competition!

8 Practical Techniques to Keep the Mind in Tune for Testing

During a recent software testing interview, I asked the candidate about what he does to keep the mind in tune so that he can continuously think about new testing ideas. He was confused and answered, “I do testing”.  I smiled.

While working on the same project/application/product/domain for many years, we become an expert in a particular domain or product, but if we are not careful, we lose the most important thing – The eye to test.

Yes, you read it right. When you are working on the same product every day for 2 years and when you are bored and not seeing any more bugs, my friend, it is time to rejuvenate; time to brush up the mind, and time to be a learner again.

Practical testing skills

Software testing is not a job, it’s a responsibility. Either you are doing manual testing

 or you are writing complex automation scripts. You are the authorized person for the quality of that particular web page/module / overall product.

To keep up with the responsibility in the highly competitive IT environment, it’s necessary that –

  • You find something bad before someone else finds out
  • You see something critical before someone else thinks about it
  • You report something extraordinary before someone else has a chance to do it
  • You co-relate past experiences, learn, and use work experience to generate a fabulous output

Most of the time, as a tester, we are busy while executing documented test cases, generating automation scripts or reporting bugs. While doing this, we are losing that skill of looking at everything with a different view.

Why is Software Testing challenging?

Software testing is challenging because you have to keep yourself updated with the latest knowledge as well continuously provide more qualitative inputs to make a product better (in short, find more bugs). How can we keep up with this kind of stress?  It’s not just one-time learning. It’s a process, and believe me, by following some simple practices daily, you can do it easily.

8 Practical Tips to Keep Your Mind in Tune for Testing

#1. Think “testing” with everything around you

When you are travelling, cooking, playing with kids, taking a walk in the garden, or when you are reading a book, observe everything around you, and force your mind to prepare test ideas to test these things.  Think of at least 5 test ideas for everything around you, every time you get a chance to think about.

Think….. how can you test a train?  How can you test a spoon? How can you test a book? How can you test a jar? How can you test a cable? How can you test a remote?….. the list is endless. After following this practice for 15 days, notice a  difference in yourself.  You will be full of ideas. You will be able to understand things properly and will be able to correlate the items.

#2. Learn something new every day

No matter whether it’s a small testing technique or an automation tool, you must have at least one item to check off as “Learned” every day. Small amounts of knowledge, when accumulated, creates an ocean of the same. This practice, if followed, will surely show wonders in your career. Try it!!!

#3. Keep diversified interests

Nowadays, it’s expected that a quality person is aware of the development lifecycle, documentation, testing processes, programming, analysis, automation, and knowledge across different domains.

It’s not easy to learn something else while you are already busy testing something specific. But at the same time, you cannot take a risk of pulling your career chords downwards. Open your eyes and see what is happening around you. You cannot learn everything, but you can definitely have some ideas about important products/domains different than the one you have been working on.

  • If you have been working on a Windows operating system, see how Linux works, read about it, and explore it.
  •  If you have been a manual tester for most of your career, see what kind of automation tools are available and explore it.
  •  If you have been doing web application testing thus far, look into how mobile application testing is different.
  • If you have been working in a banking domain, understand how the healthcare domain works.

Keeping diversified interests will give you an opportunity to look at the bigger picture and understand the similarities and differences easily.

#4. Play games

There are numerous strategy games, pattern finding games, and missing letter games available for free. Use the opportunity, and learn from them. Games make your mind sharp and alert. The sharp mind is able to find something hidden easily.

#5. Read

Read whatever you can. It’s not necessary to read only software testing books to become a good tester. If you are able to co-relate things correctly, books on any subject will be a treasure to you.

#6. Take breaks

Humans have a tendency of getting used to things. If you look at a broken piece of furniture for a long time, your mind, at one point, will start thinking about how perfect that piece was rather than the broken part. Don’t focus your eyes on the same thing constantly. Take breaks, observe your surroundings, discuss knowledge, and then resume your work. Does it make a difference? A lot.

#7.  Keep a note

Every day, jot down at least five points about what you learned, what you did to make things happen, what you found, or what ideas you implemented on a notepad. It will be a treasure when you take the time to re-visit it.

#8. Learn management

You can achieve success only if you can manage things better. Learn and observe from your managers – how they manage resources, clients, projects, timeline and other hurdles.

To manage something, you need not be a manager. Start from your work and time. Try to help others and accept help when required.  The management skill will grow with constant practice and will surely make the best out of you.

Conclusion:

I am stopping here as I think I have covered the points for daily practice. I am not interested in mentioning points on sharing/upgrading knowledge or discussing different topics because I think every one of us is doing it as a part of our work.

Finally, try to be an exploratory tester and you will be able to fit in all the other categories.

About the Author: Bhumika Mehta is a project lead, carrying 7 years of software testing experience. She is totally into testing and loves to test everything that exists. She appreciates good ideas, innovations, and risk.  Of course, she hates monotonic work, people and the environment.

Happy Testing, and as usual, suggestions and views are welcome.

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128 thoughts on “How to Improve Your Testing Skills and Beat the Competition!”

  1. It’s a very good blog,and I get a lot of knowldge and how to keep a good tester.Now I want to know how to improve my skills of designing test cases,more importance is how to improe my thought about test case.I’m a black box tester,and I have study several commom testing techniques like equivalence partinion class?Boundary value analysis?state transition technique?and cause and graph , I know how to use these methods to design,but when I interview,I don’t know how to describe.Could you give me some suggestion for me?
    thank you

  2. Thanks Bhumika,
    Its a very usefull article for all testers and i will improve my testing skill after reading your article and please post more and more testing helpfull article.

  3. Thanks for this valuable post. Not a tester, everyone should follow this above article to improve their own skills.
    As a Manual Tester, i was doing the same kind of work last 3+ years and i got bored. Just few months back i started to learn automated testing tools. I’m was take any guidelines to learn the automated testing. But now, i got clear picture. Once again thanks for this article. :-)

  4. I must say, this post is really worth reading it. Every idea that you considered is quite simple but is really effective if implemented.
    Thanks Bhumika, for sharing such an inspiring article.

  5. @Sawan – Thanks a lot for those kind words and I am glad that it was helpful. Tune in for more posts like this.
    Happy Testing :-).

  6. Simple, yet inspiring!
    A good read for any professional.. or any human being for that matter. Keep learning. Being stagnant, well, smells :)

  7. @Sachin, @Akhil, @LiveKindLiveFair, @Ruchi,

    We are thankful for the readers like you. Thanks you for those encouraging words.

  8. A very beautiful blog, It’s too much interesting and i really appreciate this blog.

    Thank you very much for sharing a beautiful knowledge.

  9. Hi Bhumika,
    I have read few of your article,its superb,how do u think like this?i will become fan of u!! ,waiting for new one!!

    Excellent! Awesome!
    Thanks for sharing

  10. Hi,
    you have written a nice blog, it help me to under the better view of Software Testing !!!
    it really clear my mindset of Skill Development !!!

  11. Simply amazing. The essence of a true tester is beautifully explained in simplest of the terms. Very effective and definitely easiliy applicable tips. A comprehensive article on what a tester’s mindset should be.

  12. Thanks Bhumika Mehta, Really iam in a mood at low levels and fighting to reboost on how to improve my testing skill sets.since iam working on long term project for a long time.

  13. Interesting blog…Thanks Bhumika….I was actually in the search of such kind of blogs…..really inspiring…..Thanks a lot

  14. Thanks for the wonderful blog, by reading this article i am getting more confident on learning new things and how to become a effective tester. it is a great thing to share the knowledge and guidance thanks once again for sharing your thoughts hopefully you may continue the same path to inspire more people.

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