Assessment for Learning
Assessment for Learning: HomeAssessment tasksProfessional learningResourcesResearch background

Formative use of summative assessment

This Professional Learning module explores how summative assessment practices can be used in a formative way.

Summative assessment (assessment of learning) is the assessment that involves an evaluation of student achievement resulting in a grade or a certification.

Both formative assessment (assessment for learning) and summative assessment have vital roles to play in the education of students, and although on the surface they may not seem to have much in common, there are identified ways they can work together to improve student learning.

Making formative use of summative assessment means using information derived from summative assessment to improve future student performance. For the teacher it involves:

  • providing a range of assessment tasks and opportunities to make certain that a range of student learning styles are catered for
  • teaching students to prepare more efficiently for summative assessment by making use of knowledge about themselves as learners
  • making use of the results of summative assessment so that learning is emphasised.

For the student it involves:

  • developing the ability to identify 'where I am now' and 'where I need to be'… and to prepare for summative assessment accordingly
  • recognising that summative assessment experiences are an opportunity for further learning and a chance to improve future achievement.

The following links explore the formative use of summative assessment in more detail.