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Formative and Summative Assessment - Difference and Similarities

Most of the students are intimate with the concept of formative and summative assessment, while some have confused. The main motive of all these kinds of assessments is of assessing the learners undergoing the specific course. On the other side, they have different uses and objectives.

Most of the students have doubts about both of these concepts. But, by learning the difference, you get a clear idea about formative and summative assessment.

In this blog, we will discuss the explanation of formative assessment and summative assessment, further key differences.


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So let's start with the formative assessment:

What is Formative Assessment?

Formative assessment is considered as the ongoing method basically for the evaluation. It is fruitful for teachers to monitor the progress of scholars. They work on finding out the challenges which students face while learning. Additionally, here come some formative assessments:

  • Quizzes
  • Games
  • Projects
  • Group activities
  • Presentations

You will get valuable results if you consider them daily. The major benefit of formative assessment is its flexibility. You do not require a pen and pencils to note down the student's progress. Besides this, you can evaluate the progress by a group presentation, and so on.

What is Summative Assessment?

This assessment is used to evaluating what someone has learned in the course. Moreover, there are various things included in the summative assessment, which is in the following way:

  • Tests
  • Final exams
  • Papers
  • Reports
  • End-of-classes projects.

These sorts of assessments are conducted at the ending of the course. It is used in evaluating the long-term information retention of the learners. In this assessment, the teacher covers the concepts taught in the course's first week or second week.

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Difference between the Formative Assessment and Summative Assessment

After reading the information mentioned above, you will get some ideas about the purpose of using both of these assessments. If you still face confusion, read the below-mentioned information. Here we listed some differences that wipe out all of your doubts:

  • Basic Difference

 Formative assessment is defined as the numerous kinds of assessment procedures which offer specific information. On the other summative assessment specify the standard of evaluating the student's learning.

  • Nature

When it comes to nature that formative assessment is diagnostic, while summative assessment is categorized as evaluative.

  • Time

The formative assessment is done either monthly, quarterly, or ongoing basis where summative assessment is completed on some specific intervals. The particular gap may be the end of the course.

  • Purpose

The foremost purpose of formative assessment is to improve student learning, while the primary purpose of summative assessment is judging the student's performance.

  • Value of Grades

The grades of SA decide either student have the ability to get promoted or not. On the other side, the score of FA will define the understandability of learners.

  • Tool

The tool used for the summative assessment is a rubric or scoring guide. It is utilized for the purpose of assessing the response of the student. There is no such tool used in the formative assessment because it does not include evaluating the grades.

  • Frame of Reference

The formative assessment gives the preference to the normative frame of reference. It is known as the complicated set of assumptions that are utilized for defining perceptions and creating meaning.

When it comes to SA, it has the criterion frame of reference. It means evaluation of students' progress is done by considering the standard criteria. It is fruitful in comparing the performance of students with each other.

  • Feedback

The formative assessment reveals the progress of learners. In the case of summative assessment, students get feedback based on their performance. To clarify, summative assessment is the short form of the final evaluation, which is all about the student's performance.

So, some points make the summative assessment different from the formative assessment.

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Similarities between the Formative Assessment and Summative Assessment

If you have a clear understanding of formative assessment and summative assessment, it will be easier to check learners' progress. Both of these assessments are used for defining the learning and teaching experience. Apart from some differences, there are some similarities.

One of the basic similarities is both of these methods are for the course evaluation. You can assess your students based on their performance or participation.

Additionally, both of these are useful in gathering the feedback of the students. With the help of grades, students come to know about the several aspects while the instructor comes to learn about their student's knowledge regarding the course they pursue.

So, the information mentioned above is worthy of clearing all of your basic doubts. If the formative and summative assessment has differences but has similarities too. Keep all the information in your mind while using any assessment type.

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When to Use the Formative Assessment and Summative Assessment?

It is essential to consider the time when both of these assessment has taken. Here are some details.

  • Formative Assessment

If you want to check the student's knowledge and progress, formative assessment is considered the best way. With the help of formative assessment, you can find out those sectors in which students are facing problems in learning and understanding concepts.

  • Summative Assessment

When it is a time for evaluating the learning, there is a need for the summative assessment. You can easily check how much students understand what they are taught during the lectures. With the summative assessment, you can judge the knowledge of students about the course.


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To Sum Up Summative Assessment vs Formative Assessment

Summative Assessment:

  • Fixed, end of lesson/module/course evaluation
  • A formal process, which is highly structured
  • Normalizes scores for comparison into a pre-decided standard
  • Evaluates the result, not the process
  • Produces a grade

Formative Assessment:

  • Ongoing and flexible evaluation which is incorporated within the lesson
  • Informal process, designed to convey feedback and affect lesson
  • Focuses on the individual performance and needs of students
  • Produces feedback to meet those needs
  • It opens communication and focuses on growth, not grades

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