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Software Testing: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

Job Market
Oct 09, 2020

A Brief Guide to Software Testing 

According to job search portals like, QA engineering is one of the top five most popular jobs in IT in 2020. The IT field is growing faster than ever, and IT companies are creating new quality assurance teams every single day to ensure that only the most sophisticated, and high quality products enter the market. 

Plus, here’s another striking figure – when working on a software project, about 50% of the total time spent on the project, and more than 50% of the total cost of the project, is actually spent on testing. That’s quite a big budget. So, as you can see there’s a lot of emphasis on testing for companies!    

Testing is the biggest and best quality control technique out there. Anybody can put out software, but without the guidance and testing that comes from a QA tester, products are likely to be bug-ridden and hard to use. This would be damaging for most businesses, so that’s why they’re investing time and money in quality assurance teams.

Let’s recap quickly on quality assurance testing…

Quality assurance testing is when you make sure a piece of software meets the requirements that has been set out for it, and that it works as it should for the end-user. There are two approaches to testing, manual and automated testing, which we will discuss in more detail later on.

Testing is taught at some universities, and because QA engineering is still a pretty young industry, many people want to enter it. Testing is becoming increasingly popular, and there are plenty of people looking for online courses, or other learning opportunities where they can learn testing quickly, instead of going to university for a few years. 

The quickest way to learn testing, and to make a fresh start in this profession, is to either complete an online course or to self-educate yourself. Both ways are acceptable, but new testers should make sure that they get a lot of practical experience into their learning, as this is what is going to make the biggest difference for them when they get a real testing job. 

To get acquainted with the basics of software testing tools, keep reading our guide.  

Ways of testing

You now know a little more detail about testing, it is now important for you to discover how testing can be done. 

There are two approaches to testing, manual and automated testing. Both approaches are part of the quality control process, and are there to test software, but both operate differently. These two approaches have their benefits and weaknesses, join as we find out more about them.

Manual testing is when a human tester executes tests. This is the biggest difference between manual and automated testing. Generally, a manual tester is there to pretend to be the end-user and to check the software for defects. A manual tester usually follows a test plan, so they know what to look out for. This approach works very well on small-scale projects, but it does not work as well for large-scale projects. This work is very intuitive, but it does rely heavily on the tester being thorough and complete with their testing. The main weakness of this approach is that there is room for human error. 

Automated testing typically reduces the cost of manual testing, because a human isn’t running the testing. During automated testing, a computer is running the tests, and these have been planned out by a tester. Tests in this approach can be completed much faster, thus saving a lot of money, and it can pick a lot of errors that might have been missed by a human. However, automated testing is not a universal solution. Generally, it is more preferable to use manual testing when scripts are not included in regression or continuous integration tests. Auto testing also won’t work when errors occur outside of their written code. 

The way a product is tested depends on the end goal, and the level of testing required for a project. Every project will be different and each test plan and approach should be designed with this in mind.

What are the other types of tests that are found in QA engineering?

A good software testing tutorial will not only teach you about load and performance, but it will also teach you about various types of tests and test cases. 

When it comes to the classification of testing types, another approach is possible. You may  get ‘static’ and ‘dynamic’ testing methods, and various techniques can be used within them.

‘Static’ testing assumes that the program code will not be executed, and it will include checking things like the code and requirements of the software. Static is used at an early stage in the software life cycle and it is an important part of the verification process. In some cases, this type of testing doesn’t even require a computer, for instance, when checking requirements. Plus, static testing methods can be used in either manual or automated testing. 

‘Dynamic’ testing is a method aimed at verifying the functionality of a program during code execution. This type of testing involves the actual operation of the program and determining if it functions. Dynamic testing shows whether or not the expectations of the software are actually being met or not. The dynamic type of testing actually tests software directly and in real-time.

Methods of testing

You’ve now got a better idea about testing, the approaches used, and what other types of tests could be used during the quality assurance process. It is now time to look at what methods of testing are used in the testing process. 

There are two main methods of testing – ‘White Box’ and ‘Black Box’. 

White Box testing is when certain parts of the system are tested to see if they work as they should. White Box testing is not testing the functionality of the application. But, White Box testing does ensure that the internal structure works and is stable.

In White Box testing, a QA has access to the source code of the application and can examine it to see how the initial values are converted into final values. The tester can then write the appropriate input codes to check that the system outputs the right output. Knowing the features of the tested program is a must for White Box testing.

Black Box testing is when a QA engineer checks the functionality of an application. The QA tester does not look inside to see how the initial values are converted into final values. Black Box testing is based solely on the external interfaces of the system. The engineer does not need any knowledge about the internal structure or components in the whole system.  Also, during Black Box testing, the tester usually checks the specifications/requirements, or other documents, that describe system requirements so that they can see if the product is doing what it should be doing.

The most significant difference between White Box testing and Black Box testing is the information that is provided to the QA tester.

Now that you know more about testing methods, let’s take a look at the various testing levels that impact testing.

Levels of testing

There are four distinguished levels of testing, these include Unit Testing, Integration Testing, System Testing, and Acceptance Testing. 

Unit testing is typically completed early on in the development phase. This type of testing allows testers to check the correctness of the individual modules of the program’s source code. Unit testing involves writing tests for every non-trivial function or method, and this enables a QA tester to quickly check whether the next change in the code has led to regression. Moreover, it facilitates the detection and elimination of such errors. Unit testing is usually done by the programmers themselves, as a kind of ‘self-check’. Defects found this way are then corrected immediately.

Integration testing is designed to test the link between the various components, as well as the interactions within different parts of the system. There are two levels within Integration testing: Component Integration Testing and System Integration Testing. Bottom-Up Integration deals with all low-level modules, procedures, and/or functions that are put together and then tested. This approach is considered useful if all, or almost all of the modules in the developed level are ready. Top-Down Integration, on the other hand, is about testing all high-level modules.

System testing is performed on a complete and integrated system. Its main aim is to verify if the system meets the requirements that have been set out. It refers to Black Box testing methods, and thus it does not require knowledge of the internal structure. System testing is divided into Alpha testing and Beta testing.

Acceptance Testing is a formal testing process that determines whether the project gets a ‘pass of approval’ from the customer or another authorized person. Acceptance testing is usually carried out when the product is about to be finished, as its purpose is to determine the readiness of the product. This is achieved by the product passing test scenarios, and test cases, that are based on the specifications and requirements that were originally set out. 


So, now you’ve got a lot of information about software testing! Yes, it is a lot of information to take in, but if we have piqued your interest and you fancy learning more about testing then visit our website right now. 

Learning software testing isn’t hard and you don’t need a technical background, or degree, to get started. All you need to get started is some determination and a desire to learn. 

The best way to become a QA engineer is to join one of our online courses. Our courses will help you to understand how software is created, what difficulties programmers face, and what the process of debugging looks like. We provide quality education, and you’ll actually be taught by leading experts who work at some of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies!  

So, join us if you’d like to learn software testing, and start your career in IT now.

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