Formative vs. Summative Assessment: What’s the difference?

Assessment is the typical method used by educational institutions to evaluate the performance of their pupils. This aids in the organization of study materials and the tracking of students’ progress.

Formative assessment refers to a variety of assessment procedures that provide the necessary data to adjust teaching during the learning process, whereas summative assessment is defined as a standard for evaluating students’ learning. This is the main distinction between formative and summative assessment.

Evaluations might be summative or formative. In a table, this article describes the distinction between formative and summative assessment.

Formative vs Summative Assessment

What is Formative Assessment?

The term “formative assessment” refers to a variety of formal and informal evaluations made by teachers while a lesson is being taught in order to adjust the teaching and learning process. Its main objective is to keep track of pupil learning. Teachers and students can both use formative Assessment enhance the learning process as it is taking place. Although tests often assign students a grade or score, formative tests offer students feedback. As a result, it aids pupils in determining their strengths and limitations. The instructors can evaluate their teaching strategies with the use of these assessments.

Formative evaluation examples include:

  • Requesting that students provide an overview of a lesson or lecture
  • Giving the class a test
  • Holding sessions with students and teachers, etc.

What is Summative Assessment?

Summative assessment is done at the conclusion of the unit or course. It usually focuses mostly on the student’s performance.

Summative assessment’s primary goal is to make sure the student has a thorough understanding of the subject matter.

Scores, grades, and percentage scores serve as the foundation for summative assessment. This serves to demonstrate the excellent caliber of the used curriculum.

Examples of summative assessments include:

Year-end exam, mid-term test, end of unit tests

Final projects, etc.

PropertiesFormative AssessmentSummative Assessment
DefinitionFormative assessment refers to a range of assessment methods that offer the necessary data to modify instruction during the learning process.Summative assessment is described as a criterion for assessing students’ learning.
Aims atImprove student’s learningMeasuring student’s competency.
Weight of gradesLowHigh
FrequencyMonthly or quarterlyTerm end

Key Differences Between Formative and Summative Assessment

The following factors make the distinction between formative and summative assessment clear:

  • The term “formative assessment” refers to a variety of assessment techniques that offer the necessary data to modify instruction as students are learning. Summative assessment is described as a criterion for assessing pupils’ learning.
  • Summative Assessment is an evaluative process, whereas Formative Assessment is diagnostic.
  • Summative assessment measures learning, whereas formative assessment measures learning for learning.
  • Continuous formative assessment takes place either monthly or quarterly. Summative Assessment, on the other hand, only happens at predetermined times, typically towards the end of the course.
  • The purpose of formative assessment is to improve student learning. On the other hand, summative assessments are used to evaluate student performance.
  • To keep track on students’ progress, formative assessment is used. Unlike summative assessment, formative assessment focuses on evaluating student learning.
  • Formative assessment grades are less valuable than summative assessment grades in that the former will reveal a student’s comprehension while the latter will determine whether or not they should be promoted.


Education is a gradual process of learning, and assigning grades to students is another. Summative assessment is frequently used as final exams or midterms by teachers. To help teachers out, the course explains the differences between formative and summative assessment. Good fortune.