As a software tester, you are most likely, at some point, to have to write test cases for software, and knowing how best to write these and understand the benefits is an essential skill. 

Here we take you through how to write a case, detail what information they should contain, and discuss the benefits of taking the time to write them.

How to write test cases video transcript

Hey! Today we’re checking out how to write a test case and exploring the benefits that come with it.

Firstly, what is a Test Case? 

Software testers use test cases to help them confirm that a website or application works as expected. They are documents that outline the expected result and contain a series of steps that the tester can follow to verify that features behave as intended.

Multiple test cases are often required for testing a specific feature. These are stored in test suites, which are usually organized according to function, feature, or module.

There’s no need to be overly technical when writing a test case. Basic writing skills, an attention to detail, and a good understanding of the application under test are all that you need.

So, let’s take a look at how to write a test case.

Title it using the name of the feature you are testing, such as the “Login page.” But then strengthen it by adding a brief description of the actual test. For example, this could be: “Login page – Authenticate successfully.” 

A detailed title makes it easy to see at a glance what a test is and what it’s for. Adding a unique identifier at the start of any title can be useful too, so it’s easier to reference when used in other documents.

The test case description should state the test’s main goal. Also, add any additional information that the tester could find useful, such as the test environment and any preconditions. Try to keep the description short and easy to read.

We’ve now reached the most important part of a test case.

Test steps are the instructions a tester follows to execute the test. To help with clarity, number your steps like bullet points using a fresh line for each step.

Perhaps the tester has not encountered the application before? To help them do a good job, make sure the test case is clearly worded and includes all the information and data they need to complete the test successfully.

The key thing here is to write in an easy-to-understand way so anyone can perform the test without prior knowledge or needing to reference other sources.

The expected result tells the tester how they can know if the functionality is working properly. To avoid any misunderstandings, make sure this section is unambiguous and easy to read. It can also be a good idea to include screenshots for more detail.

Comparing the expected result with the actual result is how testers know if they should mark their tests as a “pass” or “fail.”

Here’s an example of a test case featuring these four elements. 

  • A clear title
  • A description outlining what’s being tested – including preconditions and assumptions
  • Easy-to-follow test steps
  • And finally, the expected result.

A good test case is reusable and can provide long-term value to the software testing team. So it’s worth taking the time to create one that covers all four elements.

Okay! Now we know how to write a test case, let’s have a look at the benefits.

Test cases help with understanding end-user interactions. What you learn can feed back to improve the design and development of the software. 

There are more benefits too:

  • You can spot gaps in the design more easily
  • New hires can start testing without any prior knowledge
  • You’ll gain good test coverage
  • (And) Test cases can help you and the team understand just how the product works

Test case writing needs a commitment from the tester and enough allocated time to focus. This process puts you in the shoes of your users so you can understand the application better. By putting in the extra effort, you’re more likely to find unknown functionality gaps and usability issues that need addressing.

The end reward will most likely be an application with greater stability when released into production.

Now we know about how to write test cases, what about how to document and store them?

There’s no single way to do this, so go with what works best for you and your team.

Traditional spreadsheets are lightweight and flexible and remain popular with many Quality Assurance teams. However, maintaining them can be time-consuming, and reporting can be a challenge.

As an alternative, test management tools can help to streamline the process. Tools like TestLodge let you store and organize your test cases, perform test runs, and report on the results. A collaborative team environment and being able to integrate with many of your existing tools, such as bug trackers, is great for productivity.

So there we have it. Hopefully, you now feel ready to write your first test case.

It takes a little practice to write good test cases. But, because of the care and effort you make, eventual users of the software, app, or website can be confident that the product you helped deliver works exactly as intended.

Further reading

Please see our written post on how to write test cases for software.