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What’s the Difference Between a Good Test and a Bad Test?

Everyone has probably wondered about what makes a test good or bad at least once. We believe that tests cannot be classified as good or bad. Even if the simplest tests are run, and they detect errors, help the team come up with a new test idea, or reveal some new useful information, then this test can be considered good. But this does not mean that you can rely only on simple tests.

There are many different types of tests, and all of them can be useful for a tester. Every test must be of proper quality. Quality always determines the value of the test. A poor-quality test gives little information, something that was already known or worse – gives nothing. A high-quality test helps you continue testing and share new and interesting information with the team. So, let’s take a look at how to make useful, quality tests.

Before looking at how to create a quality product (in our case, a test), it is important to ask: “What is the role of testing, and what is my goal?” These can be controversial topics, but let’s stick to one of the answers, and imagine that the role of the tester should be to learn as much as possible about the product and the project. The goal is to find as much useful information as possible, share it with the team, and help deliver a truly high-quality product. Before making any type of test, make sure that the result can benefit the team.

Dealing with Risk

Any developed product is subject to risks. From the point of view of testers, the most important information is information about these risks. Therefore, quality assurance aims to identify risk-related information as it allows you to reveal all kinds of details about the product. If you’re just testing bugs, then you might be missing out on information that can help generate new test ideas. Or, you can skip important details about how the product meets the client’s expectations.

Before making a test, it is necessary to identify and discuss potential risks.

Generation of Test Ideas

Once you understand the risks you might face while testing, then think about the test ideas. Remember, a quality test gives you valuable information about specific risks. Try to look for answers to specific questions, for example:

  • What to do if incorrect data is added?
  • How does this form submit data to the service?
  • What happens if I press this button twelve times?

Take your test ideas and think about how you are going to implement them. Let’s say you are testing the risk that exists in the backend system when data goes to the database. What will happen and what will you learn by running the test for this backend through the GUI and HTTP interface? Each of these approaches acts differently and returns different information.


Remember that your observational skills are important too. If you are focusing on a specific behavior, action, or piece of information, you may be missing out on other important details. This is a common mistake people make, a cognitive bias, also known as Inattentional Blindness. Nevertheless, if you try to get a lot of details at once, then this is not always good, you need to find a balance between what information you want to work with and what you want to get in the end.


Summing up

We’ve covered some of the key points for creating a quality test, and here are the key aspects of that: if you feel like you are learning more about the tested product, then this is probably a good test.This should help you come up with new ideas, learn new risks, and inform you of important details that you want to share with your team. If you find that what you have learned from your tests is not useful, it could be for several reasons:

  1. The test was bad or was not performed correctly. Perhaps you need to reevaluate it or start it again.
  2. You repeat yourself and do not learn anything new about what you are testing.
  3. You just run out of ideas.

What you learn from your test should guide your next activity. Take some time to step back from what you tested, check what you did, and ask the questions:

  • Are you satisfied with the quality of the tests?
  • How can they be improved?
  • What information may be missing?

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Good tests and bad tests don’t really exist. We, as testers, make quality tests and determine which ones are most appropriate for detecting information about specific risks. But remember that the tester must constantly learn and improve to ensure the best testing and quality work on the product.

Alex Kara
By Alex Kara on Aug 30, 2021
Manual QA