I've read about difference between testing and checking and I feel I'm only a checker.

  • I write tests scenarios to know whether the product satisfies requirements. Is this still testing or only checking?

  • When writing test scenarios, I discover the lacks (i.e., unpredicted cases) and incosistencies in specification itself. I forward my discoveries (and sometimes solution proposals) to product manager to get specification clarified. Is this still testing?

  • What do you think 'testing' is ? If you think you are only 'checking', why do you think this ? Commented Feb 5, 2012 at 20:05
  • @PhilK, I think being a tester means both checking and testing. Checking just sounds less challenging than testing. In my example first bullet is about checking. Second bullet is more about testing, i.e., discovering what has not been predicted by the specs. "Lessons learned..." book says people do not understand the implication of the system until it is built. Testers can understand whether the system is misdesigned as they are "among the few people in the company who will put the full system through its paces before the software is sold".
    – dzieciou
    Commented Feb 5, 2012 at 20:17

3 Answers 3


You are neither tester nor checker. Or you are both. I believe the purpose of the article you referenced was to illustrate different ways to approach our jobs, not a way to drop people into buckets so that they can be treated differently. The role you play in your organization is a consequence of many circumstances, e.g. your general experience, your familiarity with your current project, and your schedule. Sometimes you may test; other times, you may check. To imply that a person is one thing or the other is to ignore their changing circumstances, and your own.

  • All posts bring light to the difference between testing and checking. I mark this as an answer because it answers the question directly. I like it also because it stresses the context as a key to choose an approach or combination of them.
    – dzieciou
    Commented Feb 5, 2012 at 23:09

Preface about my biases: I don't find the term "checking" evocative, and I don't find the distinction between checking and testing helpful. Given that...

First, the word only suggests that checking is somehow trivial. I think checking is important. And creating useful checks is hard.

Second, a key distinction between testing and checking is sapience. It seems to me that both of the activities you list require full intelligence, knowledge, intuition, and skill. Once you've written a check, executing it may not require a brain. But writing the check does. You have to figure out what is worth checking. And you have to figure out how to express the check. And interpreting a check's results requires a brain. You have to figure out what a given failure or success result means. And you have to figure out whether that meaning matters, or continues to matter, given what you've learned since you wrote it.


Most tests start out as tests then become checks, so it really depends on what your test scenarios actually do. If you think that you are only testing "happy path" without negative tests, that that does not mean you are checking, but it could mean you are checking.

The real test is the thought process that goes into the tests that you are running, and do they change, are they finding bugs, and do they evolve over time.

A test you could uses is think "what would happen if I didn't run the test at all. If the answer is that there would be no change in the test results at all, if you did or did not run it and, you as the tester have no additional information on the stability of the system, then it is probably a check.

But the good news is you already have the information you need to stop checking and start testing.

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