Acceptance Criteria: Purposes, Formats, and Best Practices

Acceptance criteria are the lowest-level functional requirements

Acceptance criteria main purposes

Acceptance criteria types and structures

  • scenario-oriented (Given/When/Then)
  • rule-oriented (checklist)
  • custom formats

Scenario-oriented acceptance criteria

  • Given some precondition
  • When I do some action
  • Then I expect some result
  1. Scenario — the name for the behavior that will be described
  2. Given — the beginning state of the scenario
  3. When — specific action that the user makes
  4. Then — the outcome of the action in “When”
  5. And — used to continue any of three previous statements

Rule-oriented acceptance criteria format

  • You’re working with user stories that describe the system level functionality that needs other methods of quality assurance.
  • The target audience for acceptance criteria doesn’t need precise details of the test scenarios.
  • GWT scenarios don’t fit to describing design and user experience constraints of a feature. Developers may miss a number of critical details.
  • The search field is placed on the top bar
  • Search starts once the user clicks “Search”
  • The field contains a placeholder with a grey-colored text: “Where are you going?”
  • The placeholder disappears once the user starts typing
  • Search is performed if a user types in a city, hotel name, street, or all combined
  • Search is in English, French, German, and Ukrainian
  • The user can’t type more than 200 symbols
  • The search doesn’t support special symbols (characters). If the user has typed a special symbol, show the warning message: “Search input cannot contain special symbols.”

Other formats

A simple set of AC for strong passwords by Mark Levison for

Roles responsible and how acceptance criteria are created

The process starts with user story prioritization and ends with negotiating details with the whole team

Main challenges and best practices of writing acceptance criteria

Final word



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