How to Watch Out for False Positives and False Negatives in Testing

Issac Glantz
By Issac Glantz 6 Min Read
how to watch out for false positives and false negatives in testing

Anyone or everyone who is related to software testing knows how challenging it is and what complexities need to be dealt with. Deep understanding is required to design test cases, it is not as simple as it seems to be. When you perform testing using the test cases, there are chances that either result would be a false positive or false negative. Things become sticky if results are not reliable, you are not sure which part to trust and which not to.

If you are working in some testing related field then probably you are familiar with the sensitivity of such situations where false positives and false negatives are recorded.

False Positive and False Negative

When a test fails in a system due to some reason other than a defect then it is considered as false positive. Some of the reasons for false positives are:

  • When waiting is not reliable and synchronization strategies don’t work well either.
  • Failing test strategy which reports wrong stages for the applications
  • Results which are determined by previous test cases

Repeated false positives usually result in frustration. If builds fail time and again then testers lose their trust towards test automation and look out for reliable methods and resources to perform the job and save time. It also leads to scenarios where testers remove those test cases from the pipeline.

At the point where false positives cause frustration and irritation, there are also chances that false negatives prove to be riskier. It can lead to a point where testers do not show their trust towards the tool they are using and rule out the test automation process.

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Such tests verify certain characteristics of the system but at the same time fail to detect errors or issues in those areas.

Strategies to lookout for False Positives and False Negatives

Testers need to opt for reliable tools to carry out the testing process. There are numerous test management systems that can do the needful. Consider the following approaches to identify false positives and false negatives.

Code Reviews

Writing scripts for automated testing is similar to writing code for software. It is the responsibility of the tester to deal with the test cases with great vigilance and set a strong foundation for the codebase. It is really important to go for code reviews on automation scripts when you are working around the change regarding the control system. You need to be sure that the code is performing well and covering the aspects for which it was written. There shouldn’t be any sort of issue which conflicts with expected outcomes.

Test the tests

At the time you work around the test cases, you need to question your work. Can it fail? What will happen if it fails? Make small changes in the code to verify if the test fails properly or not. An actionable message should be prompted to inform the user. Do this practice repeatedly from time to time to ensure that the system is working in its best form, it is not limited to developing the test case. The test case should have defect detection power until the system is delivered.

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Review Test Suite

Testing is not a static process and it needs to be done repeatedly to deliver an error-free product. The tester should review the entire test suite periodically and confirm that test automation is successful enough to carry out expected results. Consider making changes in the test suite if any discrepancy is observed, we know it requires a lot of effort to write the test but it should be updated timely.

Consider doing Mutation Testing

There are numerous tools and techniques in automation which can help one to carry out automation testing and avoid all sorts of errors. Most of the testers prefer mutation testing as it upgrades the quality of the test cases, ideally for unit testing. Mutation testing tools make small changes in the code and check if they work properly or not.


One needs to perform automation as well as manual testing to ensure that any false positive or false negative doesn’t slip through any sort of crack. Keep your test management systems and automation tools updated and look out for new ones that can help to overcome such issues. Also, one needs to be vigilant throughout the testing process and use the knowledge to provide purposeful results.

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I'm Stuart, a tech enthusiast and experienced writer. I've worked with multiple tech blogs over the years, leveraging my 8 years of digital marketing expertise. My journey began when I was searching for ways to make money online and stumbled upon blogging. Back then, starting a blog on Blogspot was the norm. Aspire to be one of the best bloggers in the world, I've witnessed how the age of the internet has revolutionized technology journalism. In this era of social media and video marketing, it's essential to recognize the importance of reading articles to gain in-depth knowledge and insights. Let's explore the fascinating world of tech together!
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