QA 101. Four sets of essential skills to start your career in software testing and QA

QA 101. Essential software testing skillsHere are four sets of essential skills to become effective right away once you are hired as a software tester / QA engineer.

You should know:

1. How to explore software
2. How to apply black box testing techniques
3. How to generate test cases
4. How to file bugs


Don’t expect to have a babysitter once you are hired by a software company. Most likely you’ll be given a software, e.g., web site or a part of it and asked: “Go ahead and test it”.

Your first step is to get domain knowledge, i.e., get practical knowledge about some subject, e.g., your website functionalities.

The skill here is to

Take a piece of software -> Start using it -> Figure out how it works or how it should work.

Many of new QA testers feel overwhelmed during their first days/weeks at work. Here is what you should do: try to get as much domain knowledge as possible. In order to do it: explore software and ask questions.

How to grow your software exploring skills? Use different type of applications: social, financial, photo, e-commerce, etc./ desktop, web-based, mobile, game consoles, etc.

Related QATUTOR article: Knowledge Of The Internals Of The Software


Black box testing techniques are easy to understand, but sometimes hard to apply. Like in case with other software testing skills, only practice helps.

Three most important black box testing techniques are:

A. Dirty list – White list. You should be able to go from idea about test case to test case that makes sense. Dirty list – White list software testing technique starts with brainstorming and ends up with concrete testing scenario.

B. Test tables. This is hardest to implement black box testing technique, but there is nothing better to reflect possible logical flows. You should practice this approach hard, but results will be amazing and once you get it, you’ll have one of the most effective QA approaches at your disposal.

C. Equivalent classes. This technique deals with grouping of entry data into categories depending on the expected result. You cannot test if you don’t know how to use equivalent classes.

Related QATUTOR article: Black Box Testing Techniques


Sure, we can test without test cases, but no serious testing can be done without test documentation. Main part of test documentation is test cases.

Consider these skills and approaches for test case generation:

A. Use crystal clear simple language
B. Be smart about the level of abstraction
C. Take repeating steps to QA Knowledge Base
D. Make test cases independent from each other
E. Make sure that test case is executable to any tester at your organization

Related QATUTOR Lecture: Lecture 3 – Test Cases and Test Suites


Bug tracking system is the main communication tool of a software tester.

Consider these skills and approaches for bug filing:

1. Be curt, precise and use simple language when you write Bug Summary.
2. Add steps to reproduce. Once you added them, execute them to make sure that they will take developer to the expected result.

Related QATUTOR article: The Bug Tracking System

QATUTOR course will help you get practical knowledge and practical skills about all aspects of software testing and QA that I’ve mentioned above, plus MUCH more!!