Assessment? Is this a fancy name for a test?

No, it's not always a test! An assessment is a vital part of teaching and learning. Its purpose is to:

  • Gather information to understand what students know as a result of their education or experience.

  • Review multiple sources to develop a learning schedule.

  • Collect data on student learning and make inferences to improve programs.

summative assessment

Knowing one type of assessment from another can be a helpful way to support your learning. Let's look at two popular types: formative and summative assessment.

Why Do I Need An Assessment?

An assessment identifies your strengths and weaknesses on a specific topic during learning. It considers your readiness based on:

  • Goals

  • Objectives

  • Prior knowledge and experience

Man asking if an assesment helps him. Female says yes. Man with surprised face.

Types of Assessments

Formative Assessment:

  • During learning for needed improvements and not graded

Summative Assessment:

  • After learning is complete and graded to an objective standard

Little boy stating an assesment with no grade is possible.


True or false: assessments always require a grade to be effective.

Examples of the Different Types of Assessments

Formative Assessment

  • Low-stakes quizzes

  • Reflection journals

  • Q&A assignments

  • In-class activities

  • Observations

pen on a test paper Photo by Antoine Dautry on Unsplash

Summative Assessment

  • Final exams

  • Final projects

  • Term papers

  • In-class presentations

  • Performances

man presenting information on a screen in a classroom Photo by GoodNotes on Unsplash


You're given homework to answer questions on the chapter. This is an example of what type of assessment?

Benefits of Formative and Summative Assessments

  • Identify if you should proceed to the next level

  • Opportunity to refresh your memory of knowledge

  • Offers variety from traditional testing

Man toasting with champagne glass

If Assessments Are About Learning, Why Do I Have To Get A Grade?

Grades give you an idea of where you stand on a topic. They help you to measure and track your progress.

man saying thank you

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