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5 formative assessment strategies for every classroom


Quick win formative assessment strategies for teachers 

Formative assessments are designed to identify what a student has or has not learnt during the course of a lesson or unit. The goal of formative assessment is to keep track of the learning process and to continuously give teachers the feedback needed to improve learning outcomes. These types of assessments are “low-stakes”, meaning students do not risk the pass or fail that comes with a summative assessment. Regular use of formative assessment practices is essential because it enables teachers to identify what is working for particular students and what might need to change in order for all students to attain lesson objectives.

What’s the difference between formative assessments and summative assessments?

Contrary to summative assessments, formative assessments don’t typically carry any weight in terms of grades and have little to no point value. Despite this, these ungraded tests are thought to be extremely valuable for helping students to improve their performance and for teachers to determine what the students understand in a given lesson or unit of study. Feedback from these types of assessments can be given to students in order to help them accomplish future goals and do better on final exams. ‍

5 formative assessment strategies for every classroom

The following five formative assessment strategies are easy to implement with very little preparation needed:

1. Reading student work

Students’ daily classwork and quizzes are a great source of proof of their understanding and skillset. Teachers stand to learn the following when they analyse their students’ work regularly:

  • the current degree of knowledge, attitude, and aptitude for the subject area among students;
  • strengths and weaknesses of the learner;
  • the necessity of special help for a student; and
  • how to improve the effectiveness of their future instruction by changing their current practices.

Reading your students’ work often ensures that you see the outcomes of the lessons taught. Sometimes we can believe a lesson went really well but looking at the classwork might tell a different story. Interactive multiple-choice quizzes like Kahoots are a great tool for quick and engaging formative assessment.

2. Techniques for Strategic Questioning

Targetted questions are questions that focus on identifying if a student has retained a specific piece of knowledge, or understanding. The primary goal is to gauge how much students remember or understand about a topic. Ask your students to respond to higher-order questions starting with “how” and “why”. Make sure the questions you ask meet students where they are and are not above or below their academic level.

3. Use the TPS method

One of the simplest formative evaluation techniques is Think > Pair > Share. Ask students to think about a question, pair up with the person closest to them to discuss their answers, and then share their combined answers with the class. This is a popular technique used by many teachers because little preparation is needed and it can be used in any lesson at any given time. 

4. Entrance and Exit Tickets

Entrance and Exit Ticket are a quick and easy way to assess your classes’ knowledge, understanding or skill at the start or end of a lesson.

Entrance tickets are a great way for you to check what students remember from the previous lesson or make predictions about what you will be learning in the up and coming lesson. 

Examples of entrance tickets:

  • Answer the following question on a post-it note. When you’re done, stick it on the whiteboard. 
  • Students line up at the door. They can only enter after they’ve answered a question relating to the last lesson correctly. 
  • Add sheets of paper in each corner of the room with higher-order questions relating to the content taught in the previous lesson. Before students take their seats, have them write an answer on each sheet of paper. Give students a different coloured pen so you can identify who has written what.

Exit tasks are a great way to see how much students have learnt in the lesson before leaving. Here are some examples of exit tasks:

  • Give students a blank exit ticket and have them answer questions relating to the last lesson
  • Have students complete a Kahoots quiz
  • Get students to create a rap/song/mime/poster to explain their understanding of a question/topic

5. 1-minute papers

Give students 1 minute to answer a question or explain their understanding of a topic. Put a timer on the board to keep them on track. Collect the papers once they’re done to see the outcomes. 


Formative assessments are an important part of instruction because they allow teachers to identify where their students are on their learning journey. The feedback gained from formative assessment methods allows teachers to adapt instruction and build on what students already know and understand, as well as areas of improvement. Regular formative assessment can help teachers to make predictions about how students will perform on summative assessments so there are no surprises, and ultimately improve teaching to meet the needs of every learner. 


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