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Difference Between Formative and Summative Assessment

Formative vs Summative Assessment

As a student, I often wondered why we have to take quizzes and tests as we go along in the discussion of our lessons. At the end of the unit, we also have the more comprehensive and harder examinations that we need to study well.

These are actually tools that teachers use, so that they can evaluate the degree of understanding and progress a student has made in class. These will allow her to know if the students have benefited from her methods or not.

Formative and summative assessments will allow her to determine whether her methods are effective in conveying the knowledge that she wants to impart to the students.

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is a teaching tool used on a daily basis to determine how much students have learned and how much they still have to learn. This can be determined through assignments and homework, quizzes and class discussions.

They are given more frequently but carry lesser grading weight, because they are only used to determine which areas in the teacher’s instructions are not understood by the students and how much a teacher still have to teach them.

Formative assessments allow teachers to know the effectiveness of learning tools and help them change their methods and find which ones are more effective in helping the students understand what is being discussed in class.

Summative Assessment

Summative assessment is a teaching tool that evaluates students basing on their performance and is the basis of determining the progress made by the student for the unit that has been discussed and for the school year as a whole.

It is used to evaluate whether the students are ready to take statewide tests and to provide information on the progress made by public schools, its administrators, and public or local agencies in relation to policies in education.

Summative assessments are conducted formally and can be in the form of quizzes, essays, tests or projects. They are given at the end of a unit to determine how much the student has learned about the whole lesson and if they have met academic standards. They can also help the teacher find better teaching methods to use, if the summative assessment results are not satisfactory.


1. Formative assessments are given more frequently than summative assessments.
2. Formative assessments are less formal than summative assessments.
3. Formative assessments are used to determine how much the students have learned and what they still have to learn, while summative assessments are used to determine a student’s overall performance in a certain unit.
4. Formative assessments allow teachers to assess their teaching methods and make changes to help students understand the lesson, while summative assessments will allow teachers to change her teaching methods for the next school year, if students did not perform well.
5. Formative assessment grades do not carry much weight, while summative assessment grades are the basis for determining the readiness of the student to take statewide tests and in evaluating his overall academic performance.

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