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How should a tester increase his observation skills? I feel that I somewhere lack sharp observation and attention to detail. any games or exercises that can make my approach towards testing easier with practice.

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  • 2
    Meditation can help.
    – user246
    Dec 1 '14 at 13:09
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    @user246 - Personally, I prefer puzzle games. Hidden object games can also work.
    – Kate Paulk
    Dec 2 '14 at 12:19
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I'd suggest starting with looking at the answers to these questions:

How to become a more Creative Software Tester?

How can a Software Tester use "Out of the Box" thinking approach to find more bugs?

There are a lot of useful suggestions there.

Some other things that can help:

  • Practice pattern recognition:
    • Take a large data dump or log file that you know has bad data and/or stack dumps in it. Scroll through it relatively quickly, and try to find the bad data that way. I use this technique to quickly locate problems in massive blocks of information.
    • View the old version and the new version of something side-by-side (using screenshots if necessary) and let your eyes unfocus. You should see any differences in appearance more clearly that way.
    • Play hidden object games. They're great for teaching you to recognize small things in a mass of mostly unconnected information.
  • Switch it up when you get stale - everyone has a limit to how long they can maintain intense focus on anything. When you feel yourself getting tired, change to an activity that takes less focus or is completely different (one good thing about software testing is that there is no shortage of variety in the job).
  • Take a purely physical break periodically - this doesn't have to be much. It can be as simple as leaning back, closing your eyes for a moment, and stretching. Or a bathroom break. This should happen at least once an hour - in really demanding situations you may need to do it every twenty minutes or so.
  • Leave yourself notes - task switching has a built in penalty where you need to re-familiarize yourself with the new task and drop the thoughts in the previous one. Leave yourself notes to speed up the process.
  • Minimize distractions - if you're in a noisy environment, headphones help to block out conversation that would otherwise distract you from the work you're doing (I've had to work in an open area where the sales team would be holding loud conversations next to my cube. Without the headphones I'd never have been able to get anything done).

Honestly, most of increasing your ability to pick up details is in adjusting your environment to maximize your focus. Much of the rest is practicing pattern recognition.

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The problem may not be with your observation skills. It may be that you are expecting too much from them. Inattentional blindness (as described in this article by one of the original researchers - and yes, this is about the invisible gorilla experiment, if you've seen that famous video).

The human brain can only absorb so much. That focus (ability to block out other things) is actually a really important function. If you change how you test, you can help yourself to work with your brain, instead of against it. For example, working with long, highly detailed, test scripts is a classic trigger for inattentional blindness. I've seen testers sleepwalk past utterly obvious issues, because so much of their attention was on walking through the exact steps in the test script. If you can try different approaches, you may find your observation skills are surprisingly not so bad once you give them a fair chance.

Here are two:

  • Use test charters to focus your testing on a specific goal each time.
  • Use testing tours suggestions to give you ideas for exploring the product to learn it better.
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As sorta mentioned before assuming the role of the client is really important. Perhaps if given the opportunity find time to meet with them and find out what their role in the project will be, What responsibilities they have, run through some use case of their day to day interaction with the process.

Experience will be the key in terms of observation skills increasing. You will start to develop modals that you start with when testing. The obvious as i call it. From there branch off like a puzzle starting with your corner piece going in one direction come back go in another direction until you have everything together to fit the final piece. Its kind of like the hot pot when mom says not to touch it and you get burned. You have to learn and heal from your mistakes to improve just like anything in life.

Research into QA reading will also help as well i would look up anything by James Bach and my personal fav. "Agile testing: a practical guide for testers and agile teams". Alot of good information in both of them that have helped me with my QA process.

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  1. Collect all info about your work before starting it
  2. Assign two roles to yourself first as the one who is inspecting the work , other as the one who is doing the work
  3. Keep on asking the questions to yourself and try to use your past experiences
  4. Try to concentrate on the work
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What I do in general to increase my observation ,is to close my eyes and describe in fine detail any known physical setting for me like my living room/my office cubicle/ any other extremely known place .

It is surprising that even in those familiar places we miss lot of fine details.

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  • +1 I also did this for almost 5 years
    – BetaTester
    Nov 14 '18 at 7:28
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Just behave like a teacher and student.Ask Question to yoursely and try to answer it. Always be alert and make an imaginary view of the things.Be creative...

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