Theoretical well functions have been derived over the years to predict ground water level behaviour in aquifer systems under stress owing to groundwater extraction. The drawdown data collected during pump tests are typically analysed using graphical curve-matching procedures to estimate aquifer parameters based on these well functions. Difficulty in aquifer characteristic identification and parameter estimation may arise when the field data do not perfectly match the drawdown curves obtained from the well functions. The present study provides a new method for the interpretation of aquifer pump tests which supplements the existing curve-matching procedures in case ideal conditions do not exist; the proposed method provides a greater degree of flexibility in the data analysis for diagnostic tool purposes. The method, referred to as the Incremental Area Method (IAM) is based on integrating the logarithmic-based drawdown curves within a discrete time and matching the results with a corresponding time integral of the Theis (1935) Well Function which governs ideal confined aquifers. The application of the proposed method to synthetically generated data and field data showed that IAM represents a viable method which yields information on potential non-idealness of the aquifer and provides aquifer parameter estimates thus potentially overcoming drawdown data curve-matching difficulties. Copyright. (C) 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.