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

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