What Is a Formative & Summative Assessment?

Written by jessica cook
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Formative and summative assessments are the backbone of any classroom. They provide teachers with the information they need in order to measure student progress in the class. Use formative and summative assessments to guide and analyse your teaching in order to provide the best education for your students.

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Diagnostic Tools

Assessments can be used as diagnostic tools to identify student strengths and weaknesses. Use formative assessments throughout the school year to tell you how much your students understand about key topics.


Use formative assessments in the middle of a unit of study to identify how much students have learnt so far. When students in a class answer incorrectly on certain questions, reteach those topics later in the unit.

Informal vs. Formal

Formative assessments should be informal and frequent. Class discussions, homework questions and quizzes are all examples of formative assessments. Summative assessments are more formal, such as tests, essays and projects. They happen only once at the end of a unit of study.

Track Progress

Formative assessments let you know how students are coming along with their understanding of a topic. Give a student the same assessment more than once in order to track his progress and give him a chance to improve his grade as he masters new concepts.

Final Understanding

Summative assessments are an indicator of what students have learnt in a unit of study or an entire course. Use summative assessments to measure students' learning and to record their grade for a unit or term.

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