2 Methods for Running Multiple Jest Suites in the Same Project

Multiple approaches on running a subset of Jest tests within a project.

I’ve come across two primary methods for running subsets of Jest tests within a single project. Let’s take a look.

Why Run Multiple Test Suites Separately

First, why would you do this? I’ve run into a number of scenarios in which I want to run a certain set of tests. Here are a few examples:

  • Run a single test while I’m developing (typically the --watch option takes care of this)
  • The test suite is large and I only want to run a subset of tests
  • Tests should be run in a specific context/configuration — e.g. visual regression tests likely require a different config than unit tests

Fortunately, Jest makes this a super simple process.

The Scenario

Let’s demonstrate this with a super simple project. Say I have a single index.js file with two functions — method1() returns true and method2() returns false.


exports.method1 = function () {
return true;

exports.method2 = function () {
return false;

And (for whatever reason) I want to test these methods in isolation in two different test suites, like this:


const { method1 } = require("../../index.js");

describe("method1()", () => {
it("returns true", () => {


const { method2 } = require("../../index.js");

describe("method2()", () => {
it("returns false", () => {

Now let’s look at how we could run these in isolation, assuming Jest is installed.

Method #1: CLI Arguments

The more flexible approach is to use the CLI. Assuming you have a test string in your package.json:

// ...
"scripts": {
"test": "jest"
"dependencies": {
"jest": "^27.0.6"

You can target a single file or directory as the first argument with the jest command. If using an npm script, that looks like this:

npm test -- __tests__/suite1

Pay close attention to the -- here. This is necessary for passing arguments to the npm script. If you’re running jest globally, you don’t need them, but could instead run jest __tests__/suite1.

That will run only tests found within that path, returning something like the following output:

$ jest __tests__/suite1/
PASS __tests__/suite1/index.test.js
✓ returns true (28 ms)

Test Suites: 1 passed, 1 total
Tests: 1 passed, 1 total
Snapshots: 0 total
Time: 0.212 s, estimated 1 s
Ran all test suites matching /__tests__\/suite1\//i.

When to Use the CLI

This method is really great for being quick and flexible. If you aren’t running the same grouping of tests repeatedly, this is a good approach.

Method #2: Dynamic Configuration with Environment Variables

A more permanent option is to build a dynamic configuration file that looks for an environment variable to determine which suites to run.

Let’s say we were looking for an environment variable called JEST_SUITE and it should be set to 1 or 2. We could do something like this:


module.exports = {
testMatch: [

Now you can run the second test suite like this:

$ jest
PASS __tests__/suite2/index.test.js
✓ returns false (28 ms)

Test Suites: 1 passed, 1 total
Tests: 1 passed, 1 total
Snapshots: 0 total
Time: 0.227 s
Ran all test suites.

When Dynamic Config is Better

Dynamic config is a more permanent solution. This is best used when you are intentionally splitting up tests for a specific purpose and for an extended period of time.


I’ve set up a playground that includes both scenarios within the same project. Take a look below:

Let's Connect

Keep Reading

How to Upload Jest Image Snapshot Diffs to S3

Add snapshots from failed to S3 to enable running jest-image-snapshot on continuous integration server.

Jan 26, 2022

WTF is Jest?

Learn the basics of the JavaScript testing framework, Jest.

Aug 23, 2021

New Developers Shouldn't Focus on Writing Tests

You wouldn't open an insurance plan on your dog house, would you?

Feb 16, 2020