Are assessments formative or summative?

Quizzes are a way to test the knowledge of students. But are quizzes formative or summative? This article will give you a definition of formative and summative and when it’s better to use formative or summative assessment. After that, it will tell what our assessment tool can do for you, if want choose for formative or summative assessment.

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Formative assessment

Formative assessment gives an insight into the knowledge people possess for taking a test. Formative assessment is most valuable during the development of try-outs. The goal is to monitor student learning to provide feedback. A formative assessment checks the quality of your material. Furthermore it helps identifying the strengths and weakness of your students. After you’ve taken formative assessment, you’re able to edit whole instruction of your test and the final exam. Formative assessment is a pre-test to find out where you can improve your instruction material.

Summative assessment

Summative assessment is aimed at assessing the extent to which the most important outcomes at the end of the instruction have been reached. But it measures more: the effectiveness of learning, reactions on the instruction and the benefits on a long-term base. The long-term benefits can be determined by following students who attend your course, or test. You are able to see whether and how they use the learned knowledge, skills and attitudes. Depending on the time frame, this process can also be called confirmatory evaluation. This is an extensive form of summative evaluation.

Formative assessment and our tool

Formative assessment could be seen as a pre-test to know what kind of knowledge students have to attend the instruction. A nice way to test this knowledge is by creating a quiz. Formative assessment is a small test and a quiz is simple method to get to know your students better. You’re able to test with several types of questions; multiple choice question (with up to 10 answer options), fill in the blanks and image answer question. The handiest thing is that you can track progress and have a direct access into the statistics. This saves a massive amount of time!

Summative assessment and our tool

For summative assessment it’s better to use another system than a quiz. You measure the whole instruction students have been taken. A great way to test this is by taken an exam. This allows you to test more than just knowledge on a basic level. There are several types of questions: multiple choice, fill in the blanks, free text and image answer questions. Free text allows you to even ask more and test if students really have an understanding of your instruction. An exam allows the creator to track progress and have an insight into the statistics of his or her students.


Quizzes are a formative way of assessment. Summative assessment is better to test with an exam, because you’re testing what students have learned during the entire instruction. Formative assessment measures small parts of the instruction and quizzes are a good way to test that.

Useful resources

Center for teaching and learning
Carnegie Mellon University

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