java message no - How do you assert that a certain exception is thrown in JUnit 4 tests?

15 Answers

Edit Now that JUnit5 has released, the best option would be to use Assertions.assertThrows() (see my other answer).

If you haven't migrated to JUnit 5, but can use JUnit 4.7, you can use the ExpectedException Rule:

public class FooTest {
  public final ExpectedException exception = ExpectedException.none();

  public void doStuffThrowsIndexOutOfBoundsException() {
    Foo foo = new Foo();


This is much better than @Test(expected=IndexOutOfBoundsException.class) because the test will fail if IndexOutOfBoundsException is thrown before foo.doStuff()

See this article for details

expected annotation assertthrows

How can I use JUnit4 idiomatically to test that some code throws an exception?

While I can certainly do something like this:

public void testFooThrowsIndexOutOfBoundsException() {
  boolean thrown = false;

  try {
  } catch (IndexOutOfBoundsException e) {
    thrown = true;


I recall that there is an annotation or an or something that is far less kludgy and far more in-the-spirit of JUnit for these sorts of situations.

As answered before, there are many ways of dealing with exceptions in JUnit. But with Java 8 there is another one: using Lambda Expressions. With Lambda Expressions we can achieve a syntax like this:

public void verifiesTypeAndMessage() {
    assertThrown(new DummyService()::someMethod)
            .hasMessage("Runtime exception occurred")

assertThrown accepts a functional interface, whose instances can be created with lambda expressions, method references, or constructor references. assertThrown accepting that interface will expect and be ready to handle an exception.

This is relatively simple yet powerful technique.

Have a look at this blog post describing this technique:

The source code can be found here:

Disclosure: I am the author of the blog and the project.


  • pre-JDK8 : I will recommend the old good try-catch block.

  • post-JDK8 : Use AssertJ or custom lambdas to assert exceptional behaviour.

Regardless of Junit 4 or JUnit 5.

the long story

It is possible to write yourself a do it yourself try-catch block or use the JUnit tools (@Test(expected = ...) or the @Rule ExpectedException JUnit rule feature).

But these way are not so elegant and don't mix well readability wise with other tools.

  1. The try-catch block you have to write the block around the tested behavior, and write the assertion in the catch block, that may be fine but many find taht this style interrupts the reading flow of a test. Also you need to write an at the end of the try block otherwise the test may miss one side of the assertions ; PMD, findbugs or Sonar will spot such issues.

  2. The @Test(expected = ...) feature is interesting as you can write less code and then writing this test is supposedly less prone to coding errors. But ths approach is lacking a some areas.

    • If the test needs to check additional things on the exception like the cause or the message (good exception messages are really important, having a precise exception type may not be enough).
    • Also as the expectation is placed around in the method, depending on how the tested code is written then the wrong part of the test code can throw the exception, leading to false positive test and I m not sure that PMD, findbugs or Sonar will give hints on such code.

      @Test(expected = WantedException.class)
      public void call2_should_throw_a_WantedException__not_call1() {
          // init tested
          tested.call1(); // may throw a WantedException
          // call to be actually tested
          tested.call2(); // the call that is supposed to raise an exception
  3. The ExpectedException rule is also an attempt to fix the previous caveats, but it feels a bit awkward to use as it uses an expectation style, EasyMock users knows very well this style. It might be convenient for some, but if you follow Behaviour Driven Development (BDD) or Arrange Act Assert (AAA) principles the ExpectedException rule won't fit in those writing style. Aside of that it may suffer from the same issue as the as the @Test way, depending where you place the expectation.

    @Rule ExpectedException thrown = ExpectedException.none()
    public void call2_should_throw_a_WantedException__not_call1() {
        // expectations
        // init tested
        tested.call1(); // may throw a WantedException
        // call to be actually tested
        tested.call2(); // the call that is supposed to raise an exception

    Even the expected exception is placed before the test statement, it breaks your reading flow if the tests follow BDD or AAA.

    Also see this comment issue on JUnit of the author of ExpectedException.

So these above options have all their load of caveats, and clearly not immune to coder errors.

  1. There's a project I became aware after creating this answer that looks promising, it's catch-exception.

    As the description of the project says, it let a coder write in a fluent line of code catching the exception and offer this exception for later assertion. And you can use any assertion library like Hamcrest or AssertJ.

    A rapid example taken from the home page :

    // given: an empty list
    List myList = new ArrayList();
    // when: we try to get the first element of the list
    // then: we expect an IndexOutOfBoundsException
            .hasMessage("Index: 1, Size: 0") 

    As you can see the code is really straightforward, you catch the exception on a specific line, the then API is an alias that will use AssertJ APIs (similar to using assertThat(ex).hasNoCause()...). At some point the project relied on FEST-Assert the ancestor of AssertJ. EDIT: It seems the project is brewing a Java 8 Lambdas support.

    Currently this library has two shortcomings :

    • At the time of this writing it is noteworthy to say this library is based on Mockito 1.x as it creates a mock of the tested object behind the scene. As Mockito is still not updated this library cannot work with final classes or final methods. And even if it was based on mockito 2 in the current version, this would require to declare a global mock maker (inline-mock-maker), something that may not what you want, as this mockmaker has different drawbacks that the regular mockmaker.

    • It requires yet another test dependency.

    These issues won't apply once the library will support lambdas, however the functionality will be duplicated by AssertJ toolset.

    Taking all into account if you don't want to use the catch-exception tool, I will recommend the old good way of the try-catch block, at least up to the JDK7. And for JDK 8 users you might prefer to use AssertJ as it offers may more than just asserting exceptions.

  2. With the JDK8, lambdas enter the test scene, and they have proved to be an interesting way to assert exceptional behaviour. AssertJ has been updated to provide a nice fluent API to assert exceptional behaviour.

    And a sample test with AssertJ :

    public void test_exception_approach_1() {
                .isThrownBy(() -> someBadIOOperation())
    public void test_exception_approach_2() {
        assertThatThrownBy(() -> someBadIOOperation())
    public void test_exception_approach_3() {
        // when
        Throwable thrown = catchThrowable(() -> someBadIOOperation());
        // then
  3. With a near complete rewrite of JUnit 5, assertions have been improved a bit, they may prove interesting as an out of the box way to assert properly exception. But really the assertion API is still a bit poor, there's nothing outside assertThrows.

    @DisplayName("throws EmptyStackException when peeked")
    void throwsExceptionWhenPeeked() {
        Throwable t = assertThrows(EmptyStackException.class, () -> stack.peek());
        Assertions.assertEquals("...", t.getMessage());

    As you noticed assertEquals is still returning void, and as such doesn't allow chaining assertions like AssertJ.

    Also if you remember name clash with Matcher or Assert, be prepared to meet the same clash with Assertions.

I'd like to conclude that today (2017-03-03) AssertJ's ease of use, discoverable API, rapid pace of development and as a de facto test dependency is the best solution with JDK8 regardless of the test framework (JUnit or not), prior JDKs should instead rely on try-catch blocks even if they feel clunky.

This answer has been copied from another question that don't have the same visibility, I am the same author.

Now that JUnit 5 has released, the best option is to use Assertions.assertThrows() (see the Junit 5 User Guide).

Here is an example that verifies an exception is thrown, and uses Truth to make assertions on the exception message:

public class FooTest {
  public void doStuffThrowsIndexOutOfBoundsException() {
    Foo foo = new Foo();

    IndexOutOfBoundsException e = assertThrows(
        IndexOutOfBoundsException.class, foo::doStuff);


The advantages over the approaches in the other answers are:

  1. Built into JUnit
  2. You get a useful exception message if the code in the lambda doesn't throw an exception, and a stacktrace if it throws a different exception
  3. Concise
  4. Allows your tests to follow Arrange-Act-Assert
  5. You can precisely indicate what code you are expecting to throw the exception
  6. You don't need to list the expected exception in the throws clause
  7. You can use the assertion framework of your choice to make assertions about the caught exception

A similar method will be added to org.junit Assert in JUnit 4.13.

Update: JUnit5 has an improvement for exceptions testing: assertThrows.

following example is from: Junit 5 User Guide

void exceptionTesting() {
    Throwable exception = assertThrows(IllegalArgumentException.class, () -> 
        throw new IllegalArgumentException("a message");
    assertEquals("a message", exception.getMessage());

Original answer using JUnit 4.

There are several ways to test that an exception is thrown. I have also discussed the below options in my post How to write great unit tests with JUnit

Set the expected parameter @Test(expected = FileNotFoundException.class).

@Test(expected = FileNotFoundException.class) 
public void testReadFile() { 

Using try catch

public void testReadFile() { 
    try {
        fail("Expected a FileNotFoundException to be thrown");
    } catch (FileNotFoundException e) {
        assertThat(e.getMessage(), is("The file test.txt does not exist!"));


Testing with ExpectedException Rule.

public ExpectedException thrown = ExpectedException.none();

public void testReadFile() throws FileNotFoundException {

    thrown.expectMessage(startsWith("The file test.txt"));

You could read more about exceptions testing in JUnit4 wiki for Exception testing and bad.robot - Expecting Exceptions JUnit Rule.

IMHO, the best way to check for exceptions in JUnit is the try/catch/fail/assert pattern:

// this try block should be as small as possible,
// as you want to make sure you only catch exceptions from your code
try {
    fail(); // fail if this does not throw any exception
} catch(MyException e) { // only catch the exception you expect,
                         // otherwise you may catch an exception for a dependency unexpectedly
    // a strong assertion on the message, 
    // in case the exception comes from anywhere an unexpected line of code,
    // especially important if your checking IllegalArgumentExceptions
    assertEquals("the message I get", e.getMessage()); 

The assertTrue might be a bit strong for some people, so assertThat(e.getMessage(), containsString("the message"); might be preferable.

I tried many of the methods here, but they were either complicated or didn't quite meet my requirements. In fact, one can write a helper method quite simply:

public class ExceptionAssertions {
    public static void assertException(BlastContainer blastContainer ) {
        boolean caughtException = false;
        try {
        } catch( Exception e ) {
            caughtException = true;
        if( !caughtException ) {
            throw new AssertionFailedError("exception expected to be thrown, but was not");
    public static interface BlastContainer {
        public void test() throws Exception;

Use it like this:

assertException(new BlastContainer() {
    public void test() throws Exception {

Zero dependencies: no need for mockito, no need powermock; and works just fine with final classes.

Java 8 solution

If you would like a solution which:

  • Utilizes Java 8 lambdas
  • Does not depend on any JUnit magic
  • Allows you to check for multiple exceptions within a single test method
  • Checks for an exception being thrown by a specific set of lines within your test method instead of any unknown line in the entire test method
  • Yields the actual exception object that was thrown so that you can further examine it

Here is a utility function that I wrote:

public final <T extends Throwable> T expectException( Class<T> exceptionClass, Runnable runnable )
    catch( Throwable throwable )
        if( throwable instanceof AssertionError && throwable.getCause() != null )
            throwable = throwable.getCause(); //allows "assert x != null : new IllegalArgumentException();"
        assert exceptionClass.isInstance( throwable ) : throwable; //exception of the wrong kind was thrown.
        assert throwable.getClass() == exceptionClass : throwable; //exception thrown was a subclass, but not the exact class, expected.
        @SuppressWarnings( "unchecked" )
        T result = (T)throwable;
        return result;
    assert false; //expected exception was not thrown.
    return null; //to keep the compiler happy.

(taken from my blog)

Use it as follows:

public void testThrows()
    RuntimeException e = expectException( RuntimeException.class, () -> 
            throw new RuntimeException( "fail!" );
        } );
    assert e.getMessage().equals( "fail!" );

In my case I always get RuntimeException from db, but messages differ. And exception need to be handled respectively. Here is how I tested it:

public void testThrowsExceptionWhenWrongSku() {

    // Given
    String articleSimpleSku = "999-999";
    int amountOfTransactions = 1;
    Exception exception = null;

    // When
    try {
        createNInboundTransactionsForSku(amountOfTransactions, articleSimpleSku);
    } catch (RuntimeException e) {
        exception = e;

    // Then
    shouldValidateThrowsExceptionWithMessage(exception, MESSAGE_NON_EXISTENT_SKU);

private void shouldValidateThrowsExceptionWithMessage(final Exception e, final String message) {

We can use an assertion fail after the method that must return an exception:

   methodThatThrowMyException();"MyException is not thrown !");
} catch (final Exception exception) {
   // Verify if the thrown exception is instance of MyException, otherwise throws an assert failure
   assertTrue(exception instanceof MyException, "An exception other than MyException is thrown !");
   // In case of verifying the error message
   MyException myException = (MyException) exception;
   assertEquals("EXPECTED ERROR MESSAGE", myException.getMessage());

Just make a Matcher that can be turned off and on, like this:

public class ExceptionMatcher extends BaseMatcher<Throwable> {
    private boolean active = true;
    private Class<? extends Throwable> throwable;

    public ExceptionMatcher(Class<? extends Throwable> throwable) {
        this.throwable = throwable;

    public void on() { = true;

    public void off() { = false;

    public boolean matches(Object object) {
        return active && throwable.isAssignableFrom(object.getClass());

    public void describeTo(Description description) {
        description.appendText("not the covered exception type");

To use it:

add public ExpectedException exception = ExpectedException.none();, then:

ExceptionMatcher exMatch = new ExceptionMatcher(MyException.class);

With Java 8 you can create a method taking a code to check and expected exception as parameters:

private void expectException(Runnable r, Class<?> clazz) { 
    try {;
      fail("Expected: " + clazz.getSimpleName() + " but not thrown");
    } catch (Exception e) {
      if (!clazz.isInstance(e)) fail("Expected: " + clazz.getSimpleName() + " but " + e.getClass().getSimpleName() + " found", e);

and then inside your test:

expectException(() -> list.sublist(0, 2).get(2), IndexOutOfBoundsException.class);


  • not relying on any library
  • localised check - more precise and allows to have multiple assertions like this within one test if needed
  • easy to use

There are two ways of writing test case

  1. Annotate the test with the exception which is thrown by the method. Something like this @Test(expected = IndexOutOfBoundsException.class)
  2. You can simply catch the exception in the test class using the try catch block and assert on the message that is thrown from the method in test class.

    catch(exception to be thrown from method e)
         assertEquals("message", e.getmessage());

I hope this answers your query Happy learning...

I recomend library assertj-core to handle exception in junit test

In java 8, like this:


Throwable throwable = catchThrowable(() -> anyService.anyMethod(object));

AnyException anyException = (AnyException) throwable;