Acceptance Criteria Vs Acceptance Tests – Know the Difference With Examples cover

Acceptance Criteria Vs Acceptance Tests – 5 Key Differences

Acceptance Criteria and Acceptance testing are crucial for a comprehensive software development process. Acceptance criteria are the conditions a software product must meet to make it acceptable to end customer. On the other hand, acceptance testing checks whether a software product meets the acceptance criteria.

Both these processes ensure robust and quality software. In this blog, we’d explore Acceptance Criteria vs Acceptance Testing in detail, along with their types, structures, advantages, and more.

What are Acceptance Criteria?

The acceptance criteria are a set of several prerequisites and conditions that must be satisfied for the product to be considered acceptable by clients and end users. They verify the software’s development and ensure the product operates as intended, without any flaws or bugs.

The acceptance criteria should always be written before development begins. Writing these criteria should clarify “what” to expect rather than “how” to achieve or implement a specific functionality because the purpose of doing so is to state the aim, not the solution. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The acceptance criteria should be clear and concise.
  • The criteria should be achievable and testable.
  • The criteria should align with the project’s objectives.

Methods for creating Acceptance Criteria

There are several different methods used to create acceptance criteria. One popular method is the use of user stories. User stories are simple descriptions of a user’s experience with a product or service. They are written from the perspective of the user and typically follow the format “As a [type of user], I want [some goal] so that [some reason].” For example, “As a customer, I want to be able to log in to the site easily so that I can make any purchase as I wish.”

Some common methods used in acceptance criteria are:

  • A requirements traceability matrix (RTM) is a document that links requirements to test cases. It can track which requirements have been tested.
  • A use case describes how a user will interact with a system.
  • A feature list is a document that lists all the features of a system.
  • A storyboard is a visual way of representing a user interface. It shows how the user interface should look and feel.

Benefits of Acceptance Criteria

There are many benefits to setting acceptance criteria. Perhaps the most obvious is that it can help to prevent scope creep. By clearly understanding what needs to be accomplished, you can avoid making changes that are not essential to the project. This way, you can save both time and money.

An individual user story has a lot of space for interpretation. Acceptance criteria clearly explain the intended result(s) from a user narrative. Additionally, it gives developers and the QA team a simple way to assess whether a story is “done.”

Acceptance criteria are useful not only for product people but also for developers. The additional context minimizes misinterpretation and strengthens the defense against scope creep. It’s more challenging to add a requirement later on if it is established and set up at the start of the sprint. Acceptance criteria usually specify the fail/pass tests that will be used to determine whether a user narrative is complete.

Also, setting acceptance criteria can help to improve communication between the customer and the development team. By having a shared understanding of what needs to be accomplished, you can avoid miscommunication and misunderstanding. This can lead to a smoother and more successful project.

Limitations of Acceptance Criteria

Acceptance criteria are a crucial part of any software development project, but they have limitations.

  • Measurable: The major drawback of acceptance criteria is that they might be challenging to create. This is due to the necessity for acceptance criteria to be precise enough to be measured, without being overly so.
  • Exacerbated: When too many technical terms and jargon are used, acceptance criteria become difficult. To ensure that everyone can comprehend them, acceptance criteria should be written in clear, basic language.
  • Exceptionally Narrow: Another limitation of acceptance criteria is that they can be difficult to change once established. This is because acceptance criteria are often used to drive the development process, so changes can slow down the entire project.

Despite these limitations, acceptance criteria are valuable for managing software development projects.

Why are Acceptance Criteria important?

Acceptance criteria aid in developing software that satisfies all requirements.

  • Acceptance Criteria help in setting boundaries for software development.
  • They form the framework for software testing, allowing the development team to confirm the software’s functionality and efficacy.
  • They enable precise planning and estimation, further streamlining development and testing processes.

Structure and Types of Acceptance Criteria


There are three different ways to structure and write acceptance criteria.

One of the most common ways to write acceptance criteria is known as the “scenario-oriented” approach, written in the “Given-When-Then” format. This approach is often used in Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) and provides clear and concise acceptance criteria that developers and stakeholders can easily understand.

The “rule-oriented” structure is the second most popular way to write acceptance criteria. Depending on your product, the scenario-oriented structure can occasionally be very challenging. This structure works well when you want to make your point about how your product’s design or user experience should be.

All you need to do is establish a set of guidelines for the appearance of your product. The rule-oriented structure is comparable to producing a straightforward bulleted list of all the features your product should have. Make sure the development team is aware of your vision by doing this.

Another common way to write acceptance criteria is the User Story format. This approach allows acceptance criteria to be written from the user’s perspective in Agile software development. This can help understand the customer’s needs and how the software should function from their point of view.


Most software development methodologies have some form of acceptance criteria. Acceptance criteria can be functional or non-functional, and they are often used in conjunction with user stories to help define the scope of work for a project.

  • Functional acceptance criteria define what a system or component must do.
  • Non-functional acceptance criteria define the quality of a system or component. This criterion ensures that a project meets the expectations of all stakeholders.
  • Business-related acceptance criteria define the goals and objectives of a project. This ensures that a project is aligned with an organization’s business strategy.

What is an Acceptance Test?

An Acceptance test determines whether the software meets the acceptance criteria for a given requirement. It ensures that a system is working as intended before it is deployed. Acceptance tests are typically carried out by the customer or end-user after unit testing, integration testing, and system testing.

Acceptance test, in its simplest form, can be thought of as a validation technique that determines every part of the software’s functional, non-functional and technical requirements and verifies that it accurately satisfies the defined acceptance criteria.

Advantages of Acceptance Testing

Acceptance testing determines whether a software system meets the requirements of the customer or user.

There are several advantages of acceptance testing.

  • First, it ensures that the system meets the requirements of the customer or user.
  • Second, it allows the customer or user to have hands-on experience with the system before it is deployed into production.
  • Third, it can identify any issues or problems with the system before making it available to the general public.

Overall, acceptance testing is a valuable process that can help to ensure the quality of a software system.

Limitations of Acceptance Testing

There are a few potential disadvantages to using acceptance testing as a quality assurance method.

  • First, acceptance testing can be time-consuming and expensive. And measuring test progress may also be challenging.
  • It can also be difficult to create effective tests that cover all the potential areas of a software application. Not all features or functions could be tested.
  • Additionally, acceptance testing may not always identify all defects in a software application. Users may adjust to the way the system functions and fail to notice or report the flaws.

Despite these potential constraints, acceptance testing can be a helpful quality assurance tool if used correctly. When used in conjunction with other quality assurance methods, such as unit testing and system testing, it can give you a complete picture of the quality of your software application.

Why is Acceptance Testing necessary?

Acceptance Testing is crucial because it shows that necessary business operations are working in a way that is appropriate for usage and conditions found in the actual world. It minimizes the cost of continuous maintenance. Besides, it also fixes functionality and usability concerns quicker.

This testing method provides you with the best chances to spot and fix broken features and usability problems. Testers can observe and notice more details and even undertake actions outside the developer’s specified scope by keeping objectives at the task.

Structure and Types of Acceptance Testing


The structure of an acceptance test depends on the type of system being tested. For example, a web application may have a series of acceptance tests that cover the different functions of the application. Alternatively, a mobile application may have a series of acceptance tests covering different screen sizes and orientations.

To know more about testing and its types, check out Different Functional Testing Types Explained in Detail.


The different types of Acceptance Testing are:

  • Alpha & Beta Testing: Internal staff members and a small end-user group typically do A/B testing in the development environment long before it is made available to customers or external testers.
  • Contract Acceptance Testing: Software that has been built is tested in accordance with specified criteria and specifications agreed upon in a contract.
  • Regulation Acceptance Testing: Also referred to as compliance acceptance testing, it checks the software’s compliance with regulations. Governmental and legal restrictions fall under this category.
  • Operational Acceptance Testing: These test cases confirm that the necessary workflows are in place to enable the operation of the program or system.

Acceptance Criteria vs Acceptance Testing: Know the differences

The primary difference between acceptance criteria and acceptance testing is that the former documents the expected behavior of a feature, whereas the latter defines the expected behavior of entire application.

Here are some basic differences:

Acceptance Criteria Acceptance Testing
Acceptance Criteria refer to the conditions software must meet to be accepted by the customer. Acceptance Testing determines whether the software meets the acceptance criteria.
These are written prior to development stage. These are implemented during product development.
They define what needs to be done. It represents how it should be done.
Either the client or the development team writes the criteria. The user or customer carries out the testing.
There is minimum or sometimes no requirement for documentation. It demands detailed documentation.


Now that we have understood the differences, types, and structures of acceptance criteria and testing, it is evident that they are crucial for a comprehensive software development process. It’s just not possible to ignore one over the other. By following the best practices, you can deliver a quality product that not only meets your users’ expectations but also remains bug-free.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an acceptance criteria example?

Here’s an example of Acceptance Criteria:

User Story: “The system shall allow the user to log in with a valid username and password.” By using the Scenario-oriented acceptance criteria approach, this can be written in the below format.

Scenario: Requires Valid username and password.

  • Given: The user goes to the login page.
  • When: The user provides their credentials.
  • And: Triggers the login button.
  • Then: If the credentials are valid, the user is logged in.

This criterion states that the system must have a login function that allows users to access the system with a valid username and password.

What are the levels of acceptance testing?

The levels of acceptance testing are:

  • User Acceptance Testing
  • Business Acceptance Testing
  • Regulations Acceptance Testing
  • Contract Acceptance Testing
  • Operational Acceptance Testing
  • Alpha Testing/Beta Testing

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