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Types of Assessment in Education - Definition, Benefits, and Examples

Types of Assessment

There are multiple types of assessments teachers use in the learning process of students. Each one of them has its own significance for the kind of student you are dealing with. 

As a good teacher, one must be actively involved in cross-checking and analyzing their methods and their students’ progress over time. This strategy not only impacts your students’ results, but will also improve your stance as a teacher.

So, if you want to learn more about the different assessment types, read the following blog. 

What is An Assessment?

Before jumping on to the types, let’s understand what assessment actually is.

Assessment is the process of gaining information about your student’s knowledge, skills, and abilities to make informed decisions. This process involves systematically collecting data through various methods, including observation, tests, interviews, and portfolios. The data is then interpreted to pinpoint your students’ strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. 

Assessments are a necessary means of promoting the growth and development of your students in the education sector.

1. Diagnostic Assessment

When you are going to teach your students about division, you must make sure they understand the basics of multiplication first. Before getting their basics right, students must avoid jumping to a more complex word problem. 

Diagnostic assessment solves this problem because it allows you to assess your student’s abilities before teaching them a new concept. 

A diagnostic assessment (or pre-assessment) consists of a series of written questions, either multiple-choice or short-answers, to gauge students' existing knowledge or viewpoints on a specific topic. 

These questions are typically administered at the start of a unit, course, or discussion. The purpose of such an assessment is to provide the teacher with a general understanding of the class's academic, emotional, or ideological stance. 

Once you are aware of your student's needs, you can customize your teaching approach and materials to suit each student's needs.

Some tools are used in this approach, including:

  • Journals
  • Quiz/Test
  • Conference/Interview
  • Posters
  • Performance Tasks
  • Mind Maps
  • Gap-Closing
  • Student Surveys

Benefits: Diagnostic Assessment provides a baseline for future assessment and makes learning more efficient. The teachers can better adapt their teaching strategies to cater to individual students and link their learning outcomes to specific goals. 

2. Formative Assessment

Just because students have completed the first half of the course book doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve mastered it. 

Formative assessment means teachers use different methods to check how well students learn as the course progresses. 

It helps teachers see which concepts students find tricky, what skills they're struggling with, or what they still need to learn. It also shows if the teaching methods are working well or if they need to be changed.

As a teacher, you can track your student's progress in real-time. It's best to keep these assessments short and to the point to reduce their exam stress and anxiety.

It involves:

  • Analysis of students’ work
  • Strategic questioning 
  • Think-pair-share method
  • Admit/exit tickets
  • One-minute papers
  • Portfolios
  • Group projects
  • Progress reports
  • Class discussions
  • Entry and exit tickets
  • Short, regular quizzes

Benefits: Formative assessment allows teachers to spot learning gaps in students, which can help them change their teaching strategies. They can provide targeted feedback to students and see where they are standing in terms of their understanding.

Students will get immediate feedback on their preparation level along with a sense of achievement for those who lag behind in a structured testing environment.

Find Out More: How useful is E-learning for students?

3. Summative Assessment

If you have to prepare students for a certain standardized test, you will focus on completing your goals according to the test requirements instead of what works best for your students. 

That’s why most teachers dislike summative assessments; they are time-consuming and somehow affect their teaching strategies during a class. 

Summative evaluations check how much students have learned, their skill progress, and academic success at the end of a project, unit, course, or school year. 

Common examples include standardized tests by states and testing agencies, which cover subjects like math, reading, writing, and science.

It involves the following strategies:

  • Tests
  • Assignments
  • Projects 

To make these assessments more engaging and less intensive, you can skip away the usual multiple-choice questions and replace them with: 

  • Asking students to give presentation
  • Make students record a podcast of the topics studied in class
  • Give them interesting projects to complete

Benefits: Summative assessments let teachers know how well students are prepared for their next course, topic, or school year. It also helps identify learning gaps in students. 

4. Norm-referenced Assessment

The norm-referenced assessment compares students' results with each other. It helps evaluate students' skills or knowledge within a class. This method shows how well a student's test scores compare to those of students with similar backgrounds.

The data received from assessing a large group of students is important to draw conclusions about student achievement in a certain class.

Examples include:

  • Class exams
  • Auditions
  • IQ tests
  • Job interviews
  • Debate competitions 

Benefits: These tests are standardized and follow a certain format for everyone. Due to their consistency, norm-referenced assessments ensure fair results without being impartial to anyone. 

Moreover, these assessments can be used to hold individuals, schools, or organizations accountable for performance. By comparing performance to a normative sample, stakeholders can assess whether certain groups are meeting expected standards.

5. Ipsative Assessment

Have you seen those students who get so discouraged after getting a bad grade that they completely stop trying?

Well, ipsative assessments are beneficial for those students who do not want to compete with their peers but whose main motive is to get encouragement and improve their grades. 

Ipsative assessments focus on comparing students with their selves. This helps measure a person's progress over time. So, you will be assessed by comparing your previous work with the second try. 

Unlike other assessments, ipsative assessment doesn't use a scale to measure the answers given.

This two-stage assessment framework encourages students to learn from their mistakes and improve. It also teaches them that learning is a process and it’s not just about achieving quick goals.

You can use ipsative assessments in your classroom by:

  • Portfolios
  • A two-stage testing process
  • Project-based learning activities

"Not all learners can be top performers, but all learners can potentially make progress and achieve a personal best. Putting the focus onto learning rather than meeting standards and criteria can also be resource efficient." — Gwenth Hughes

6. Criterion-referenced Assessments

Imagine your students are learning how to bake a cake. The criterion-referenced assessments will check if the students have followed the recipe correctly, if the cake is delicious, and how well it turned out instead of comparing it to other cakes. 

Criterion-referenced assessments compare a student's score to a specific learning standard or performance level, regardless of how other students are doing.

In the classroom, this means evaluating students based on grade-level standards, like end-of-unit or final tests.

Outside the classroom, criterion-referenced assessments are used in exams for professional licenses, high school graduation, and citizenship tests. Students need to answer a certain number of questions correctly to pass.


  • Open-ended questions
  • True/false questions
  • Class tests
  • Annual exams
  • Small projects/assignments

These assessments are different from norm-referenced assessments, which compare students to each other. Instead, criterion-referenced assessments focus on each student's strengths and areas for improvement.

Benefits: Criterion-referenced assessments are like personalized learning coaches. They help students understand exactly where they stand in terms of specific skills or knowledge. This targeted feedback makes them focus on areas that need improvement and celebrate their successes along the way.

Further Reading: The Complete List of Teaching Methods and Strategies

7. Peer-based Assessments

You may not realize it, but the things your friends teach you at the end of the class, no teacher can. 

We have all been there, with our friends explaining the important points to us the night before exams. You can leverage this opportunity as a teacher and incorporate peer-based assessments in your lectures. 

In peer-based assessment, students help each other by giving feedback on their work with the teacher's guidance. This helps everyone learn better because they can see what they're doing well and where they can improve.

Peer assessment can happen before or after the course tests, depending on what the teacher wants to achieve. The teacher explains the task and shows students how to review each other's work.

Peer-based assessments can be of the following types:

  • Students review each other's essays and give suggestions for improvement.
  • Peers critiquing group presentations and offering constructive feedback.
  • Classmates evaluate each other's work and discuss strengths and areas for growth.

Benefits: This type of assessment encourages students to actively participate in class and develop critical thinking and communication skills. It also gives them a sense of responsibility and ownership of their work, providing diverse perspectives and insights on the work being assessed.


Assessment types are a great way to help teachers and administrators analyze their students’ performance along with their own teaching strategies. MTS tutors carefully employ these methods to improve the learning environment of class.

These assessments act as an indicator of a teachers’ success in delivering quality education to their students. If you see no progress in the results, you can always change or adapt your teaching methods according to the requirements of each student. 

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With over 3 years of experience in teaching, Chloe is very deeply connected with the topics that talk about the educational and general aspects of a student's life. Her writing has been very helpful for students to gain a better understanding of their academics and personal well-being. I’m also open to any suggestions that you might have! Please reach out to me at chloedaniel402 [at]