What’s the Difference Between a Test, Practice, Guide, and Specification?

Navigating your way through the language in a standard can be dizzying enough. Add the fact that there are several different types of standards and it’s easy to get a little lost. This is why we’re taking the time to share the six different types of standards under ASTM while providing a brief definition for each. First, let’s hear from Scott Margolin, Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Technical:


As Scott says, ASTM has six different types of standards. Here’s how you can differentiate between all of them:

Test: Just as you’d expect, a test standard outlines a specific test method. Test methods generate specific, quantifiable results but do not set pass/fail criteria for those results. If you’re interested in learning about all things testing, check out our How it’s Tested series.

Specification: A specification standard does two important things:

  1. Sets specific performance requirements for the given material in question.
  2. Identifies the most appropriate test method(s) to determine whether those performance requirements are met.

Practice: A practice method standard contains instructions for performing a specific operation that does not generate a test result.

Guide: A guide is a collection of information and often provides a series of options without recommending a specific course of action.

Finally, the last two are not used heavily in the arc-rated and flame resistant (AR / FR) clothing industry, but in case you come across them, here’s a brief definition:

Classification: A classification standard groups like materials together.

Terminology: A terminology standard simply defines various terms.


Have a question?  Our resident technical expert, Scott Margolin, is available to help! Register now for a complimentary 15-minute technical consultation or feel free to email MarketingInfo@TyndaleUSA.com.

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