The ability of a transformer to withstand the dynamic effects of a short circuit test is conventionally evaluated by a measurement of short circuit reactance before and after the test. We propose new techniques for fault detection based on continual assessment during the test. The methods are based on the comparative null method for accuracy measurement in instrument transformers. They include voltage comparison, current comparison and real/reactive power measurements. High resolution sampling based acquisition systems are used to compute changes on a cycle-to-cycle basis. The proposed methods are validated on a number of models including a voltage transformer and a distribution transformer winding. They would be useful for designers in assessing events leading to failure in a more transparent manner. © 2008 IEEE.