Verifying Exception Handling and Error Propagation in Unit Tests with Mockito

Unit tests are an essential part of the software development process. They help ensure that the code behaves as intended and catch any bugs or errors before they make their way into production. One critical aspect of unit tests is verifying the proper handling of exceptions and error propagation.

In Java, Mockito is a widely-used mocking framework that provides powerful features to simplify unit testing. Mockito offers a straightforward way to test exception handling and error propagation in our code, making it an indispensable tool for developers.

Handling Exceptions in Unit Tests

When writing unit tests, we need to ensure that our code handles exceptions correctly. For example, let's say we have a method that reads from a file and throws a FileNotFoundException if the file does not exist. We want to test that the correct exception is thrown and handled appropriately.

Using Mockito, we can mock the behavior of the file system and simulate the file not being found. Here's an example of how we can achieve this:

public void testReadFile_FileNotFoundException() throws IOException {
    // Arrange
    FileReader reader = Mockito.mock(FileReader.class);
            .thenThrow(new FileNotFoundException());

    // Act
    // Call the method that reads the file

    // Assert
    // Verify that the FileNotFoundException is thrown and handled

In this example, we create a mock object of the FileReader class using Mockito's mock method. We then define the behavior of the readFile method using Mockito.when and thenThrow to throw a FileNotFoundException. This setup allows us to test how our code handles this exception.

In the Act phase, we call the method that reads the file. Finally, in the Assert phase, we need to verify that the FileNotFoundException is thrown and handled correctly. Mockito provides the verify method to accomplish this:


This verifies that the readFile method is called with any string parameter, and thus, the exception handling is properly exercised.

Error Propagation in Unit Tests

In some cases, we might want to test how errors propagate through our code. For instance, consider a situation where a method calls another method that throws an exception, and we want to ensure that the original exception is propagated correctly.

Mockito makes it easy to test this behavior by chaining the method invocations and verifying that the original exception is thrown. Let's take a look at an example:

public void testErrorPropagation() {
    // Arrange
    ServiceA serviceA = Mockito.mock(ServiceA.class);
    ServiceB serviceB = Mockito.mock(ServiceB.class);
            .thenThrow(new RuntimeException());

    // Act and Assert
    assertThrows(RuntimeException.class, () -> serviceB.callServiceA());

In this example, we have two services, ServiceA and ServiceB, where ServiceB calls a method from ServiceA. We want to test that if an exception is thrown in the process method of ServiceA, it propagates correctly through ServiceB.

To achieve this, we mock the behavior of ServiceA using Mockito.when and thenThrow to simulate the RuntimeException. Then, we use thenCallRealMethod to invoke the actual method implementation on ServiceB.

In the Act and Assert phase, we use the assertThrows method provided by JUnit to verify that the original exception (RuntimeException) is thrown when invoking serviceB.callServiceA().


Unit testing requires us to verify that exceptions are handled correctly and errors propagate as intended. Mockito simplifies this process by allowing us to mock the behavior of dependencies and simulate exceptions or errors. By using Mockito's powerful features, we can ensure that our code handles exceptions and errors properly, leading to robust and reliable software.

© NoobToMaster - A 10xcoder company