The test involves running continuously between two points that are 20 m apart from side to side.

These runs are synchronized with a beep which plays at set intervals. As the test proceeds, the interval between each successive beep increases, forcing the athlete to increase their speed over the course of the test, until it is impossible to keep in sync with the beeps (or, in rare occasions, if the athlete completes the test).

If the person being tested does not make the next interval then the most recent level they completed is their final score. The recording is  structured into 21 'levels', each of which lasts around 62 seconds. Usually, the interval of beeps is calculated as requiring a speed at the start of 8.5 km/h, increasing by 0.5 km/h with each level thereafter.

The highest level attained before failing to keep up is recorded as the score for that test.