Friday, February 22, 2013

Testing Pencil

Having come across this question in interviews, I would like to share my test thoughts and thoughts across the world ie. curated from the web for humble Pencil. Before reading further, consider this as an exercise and see how will you test a pencil. Think for 10 mins and move to read further.

Pencil is to write and it is known as everyones tool. Considering this as objective, please see the tests below.

Write on paper (different types of paper, paper colour and thickness), notebook labels (I remember barely any pencil or ball pen can write on labels), cloth (tailors), wood (carpenter), and wall (remembering peope write important telephone nos on wall in early days).  It is indeed debatable for saying a mere pencil to achieve all this but we can say it has achieved combatibility by struggle.
No difficulty to erase whats written on paper.
Easy to sharpen using sharpner, razor blades in need.
Graphite grading scales can tested- softest BB, BBB, medium F, hardest - HH, HHH
Check if the graphite is complete till the end – one use said break the pencil at the end and see if it complete. What if you are not allowed to break the pencil to test? Another user named Sameer came up with an excellent thought saying “ have electricity pass through the pencil lead , if  the bulb at the other end glows , your pencil is ready to launch !!!” This also tests that the lead is not broken inside.

Non Functional:
How many words etc can I write with the pencil? Once an interviewer has asked if the pencil company says this pencil can write 10000 meters. Will you test it?
Yes we can defintely test by taking samples by breaking down the pencil and then writing.
What if we write so fast / slow / push hard?  Is it fragile / easy to break?

Who is going to use? Children or grown-ups.
 Write for few mins continously and see if you are comfortable to use. I remember few pencils aren’t comfortable especially the box type pencils.
Ease to use, grip, handle can be questioned. Check on the weight and length of the pencil, this can lead to advising type of pencils for children and grown-ups.

Check if the pencil is toxic, kids always take the pencil to mouth either while thinking or dreaming in classrooms. It is found that lead poisoning from pencil in early 20th century have taken place. It later moved to paint for outer coating. Put the pencil for laboratory test to check on the materials which are unsafe and harmful.

There  will be many more interesting tests you can have and I could have missed. If so please add them in the comment section. You are most welcome! This can help us understand how powerful test ideas can be.  

Being a avid quizzer and novice etymologist; presenting few interesting facts below.

Hymen Lipman  is credited with registering the first patent for a pencil with an attached eraser.


early 14c., "an artist's fine brush of camel hair," from Old French pincel "artist's paintbrush" (13c., Modern French pinceau), from Latin penicillus "painter's brush, hair-pencil," literally "little tail," diminutive of peniculus "brush," itself a diminutive of penis "tail". Small brushes formerly were used for writing before modern lead or chalk pencils; meaning "graphite writing implement" apparently evolved late 16c.

P.S  I should thank Pradeep for showing blogging on testing is exciting.