The goal of group testing is to efficiently classify the state of a set of distributed agents through a sequence of tests by imposing each test simultaneously upon groups of agents. In this work, we describe the concept of group testing in a generalized framework and propose to apply this concept to solve the scheduling and multiple access problem in a large scale wireless sensor network. Since the standard approach is to dedicate a single channel to each sensor, we discuss the efficiency of group testing by comparing it to the case where each sensor is tested individually. Through the sequence of tests, the group testing strategy successively refines the observation space of the set of sensors and eventually identifies the status of each sensor when the space is refined to only one element. We show that the successive refinement property of group testing (similar to that of arithmetic coding) plays an important role in its performance. Based on this concept, we provide insight into choosing optimal group testing strategies for general applications.