How to Avoid Flakiness in Asynchronous Tests

In the realm of continuous integration and software development, ensuring that tests are reliable and consistent is crucial. Flaky tests, especially asynchronous ones, can be a significant hurdle when using GitHub Actions for CI/CD. These tests occasionally fail without any changes in code, leading to a false sense of code instability. This article aims to provide practical strategies for minimizing flakiness in asynchronous tests in GitHub Actions.

Understanding Flakiness in Asynchronous Tests

Flaky tests are those that exhibit both passing and failing outcomes under the same configuration. In asynchronous testing, flakiness often arises due to timing issues, external dependencies, and uncontrolled test environments. As GitHub Actions automates workflows, these inconsistencies can disrupt the development process and diminish trust in testing procedures.

Strategies to Avoid Flakiness

  • Increase Timeout Thresholds: Asynchronous operations might take longer to complete under different conditions. Ensure your tests have appropriate timeout settings to account for variability in execution time. In C#, you can adjust timeout settings for async tests using the `Timeout` attribute in your test methods. This helps when tests fail due to varying execution times under different conditions.
   [Test, Timeout(1000)] // Timeout in milliseconds
   public async Task TestMethod()
       // Async operations
  • Use Mocks and Stubs: Dependence on external services can introduce unpredictability. Utilize mocks and stubs for external API calls to create a more controlled and consistent test environment.    Employ libraries like Moq or NSubstitute to create mock objects. This is crucial for tests involving external API calls or database interactions.
   var mockService = new Mock<IExternalService>();
   mockService.Setup(service => service.GetDataAsync()).ReturnsAsync(mockedData);

   var controller = new MyController(mockService.Object);
   // Test controller actions
  • Implement Retries with Exponential Backoff: In cases where flakiness is unavoidable, such as with network-related tests, implement a retry mechanism with exponential backoff to increase the chances of passing on subsequent attempts.    For network-related tests, retry logic can be implemented. Polly is a great library for this.
   var retryPolicy = Policy

   await retryPolicy.ExecuteAsync(async () => 
       // Code that might throw
  • Isolate Tests: Ensure each test is independent and doesn’t rely on the state of another test. Shared state between tests can lead to intermittent failures. Ensure each test is self-contained. Use setup and teardown methods to configure the test environment independently for each test.
   public void Setup()
       // Setup test environment

   public void Teardown()
       // Cleanup
  • Optimize Test Database Management: When dealing with database operations, reset the database state before each test run to avoid state-related issues. Use in-memory databases like Entity Framework Core’s In-Memory Database for database-related tests.
   var options = new DbContextOptionsBuilder<MyDbContext>()
       .UseInMemoryDatabase(databaseName: "TestDb")

   using (var context = new MyDbContext(options))
       // Perform test operations
  • Ensure Proper Synchronization: Pay special attention to synchronization in your tests. Make sure that the test waits for the asynchronous operation to complete before asserting the results. Use `await` correctly to ensure that the test waits for async operations to complete before assertions.
   public async Task AsyncTest()
       var result = await SomeAsyncOperation();
       Assert.That(result, Is.EqualTo(expectedResult));
  • Regularly Monitor and Audit Tests: Keep an eye on your test suite’s performance. Regular monitoring helps in identifying flaky tests early.
  • Utilize GitHub Actions Features: Leverage features like matrix builds to test across multiple environments and configurations, which can help identify environment-specific flakiness.


Flakiness in asynchronous tests is a challenge, but with the right strategies, it can be managed effectively. By understanding the root causes of flakiness and implementing best practices in test design and environment management, developers can create more reliable and robust test suites in GitHub Actions. Consistency in testing not only improves the quality of the software but also maintains the team’s confidence in their continuous integration processes.

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