Formal Assessment: Meaning, Types, Examples & Benefits (2022)

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At a point in the journey of your career, you must have come across a formal assessment even without knowing what it is.

In fact, some individuals believe formal assessment examples/types are the same as informal assessments.

Does this ring a bell? Well, let’s start by clearly stating that formal assessment is different from informal assessment. You should also know that the graded test and quiz that you take is a form of formal assessment.

Meanwhile, getting more details on what formal assessment keeps growing dim, as some persons get lost with unclear information.

Well, if you fall within this category of persons, then consider an end to your unclear search. Read on to get full insight into the meaning, examples, and types of formal assessment.

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What is a Formal Assessment?

A formal assessment is a strategy used to assess a student’s knowledge level by assigning them a score on a multiple-choice type of test.

In other words, it is an information technique for assessing students. Typically, it employs well-defined scoring parameters.

In fact, with this test, you can determine whether a student attends college or obtains a new certification.

However, educators use this type of assessment when they need to know their students’ information measures.

What Are the Examples of Formal Assessment?

One example of formal assessment is the final examination given at the close of a semester or session in school.

Also, another example is the promotional examinations, which include: The ACT (American College Testing), GRE (Graduate from Records Examination), and SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test).

Nonetheless, formal assessments can take several forms, but they always serve the same purpose: to provide an assessment of students’ learning. Other common examples of formal assessment include:

  • Standardized tests: This measures student learning based on a learning standard.
  • Aptitude tests: These measure a student’s abilities in a certain field or career.
  • Achievement tests: This measures a student’s learning level.

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Types of Formal Assessment

To illustrate, you will find below the types of formal assessment:

1. Norm-referenced Formal Assessment

A norm-referenced test is a type of formal assessment that compares individual scores within the same group. In fact, teachers use this to access their students.

In this sense, the overall performance of the student’s colleagues determines their performance. Here, the goal is to determine whether a student performed better or worse than the average student.

Objective questions are commonly used in norm-referenced tests. However, the instructor may include brief open-ended questions in some cases.

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Advantages of norm-referenced formal assessment

The advantages of norm-referenced formal assessment include:

  • Norm-referenced tests are simple to create and score.
  • These assessments enable teachers to evaluate the progress and achievements of students within the same class.

Disadvantages of norm-referenced formal assessment

One disadvantage of the norm-referenced test is that they do not measure the totality of a student’s knowledge.

In reality, the majority of the questions are basic and do not allow students to expand on specific issues.

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2. Criterion-referenced Test 

Criterion-referenced assessment (CRA) is a type of formal assessment that assesses (and rates) students’ learning against a set of identified attributes or characteristics without consideration for the performance of others.

In this case, the teacher grades each student individually using well-chosen grading standards or criteria. Students receive good or low grades based on how well they meet the grading system.

While the criterion-referenced type of formal assessment focuses on getting a student’s level of mastery over a specific topic or subject, the norm-referenced test compares individual differences and accesses them at that level.

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Advantages of criterion-referenced test

  • Criterion-referenced assessments enable teachers to provide meaningful comments on the quality of a student’s work, as well as areas where they may improve for future tests.
  • It outlines what pupils must accomplish in order to achieve high grades and advance to the next academic level.
  • It is a trustworthy and valid assessment of a student’s knowledge.

Disadvantages of criterion-referenced test

  • The quality of criterion-referenced assessments is limited by the grading system in place. When there are biases in the assessing criteria, the findings become invalid and untrustworthy.
  • It takes a long time and a lot of resources and work.

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3. Standardized Test

Standardized tests are formal assessments that help you to know the learning capacity of a student across large groups of students.

To illustrate, GRE (Graduate Records Examination), ACT (American College Testing), Praxis (certifying teachers examination), SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test), and CLEP (College Level Examination Program) are all examples of standardized tests.

In addition, this test is usually done throughout a district, as in district common assessments in a certain topic area, or across a state, as in grade-level tests in subject areas.

Indeed, the essence of this test is to know whether a student satisfies the basic entrance requirements.

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Advantages of standardized test

Some advantages of the standardized tests include:

  • It has a positive impact on student achievement.
  • It is a dependable and objective measure of success.
  • Standardized assessments ensure that all students receive the same and similar information.
  • A standardized test teaches pupils how to prioritize.
  • It enables school systems to find competent teachers.

Disadvantages of standardized test

Here are some disadvantages of standardized tests:

  • It has had no beneficial effect on student education.
  • Standardized testing has the potential to be predictable.
  • They believe that all students begin with the same level of comprehension.
  • Standardized tests examine just raw comprehension data.
  • Teacher ratings have been linked to the results of standardized tests.

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4. Program Tests

Program tests are assessments that a teacher creates to assess students’ understanding of a subject, lesson, or unit.

In fact, they are frequently tailored to a specific instructor or class and include a template to ensure fair scoring.

However, one advantage of employing a program test instead of a standardized test is that program tests may be designed to assess learning goals set by the teacher for the class.

To illustrate, some examples of program tests include Projects for class, Presentations in class, Quizzes, and Exams with multiple-choice questions.

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5. Essay Tests

Essay tests are assessments that assess student learning by analyzing a student’s written work to indicate the student’s thought processes.

Of course, this may take many forms, and essay tests are frequently included in the category of program testing, while standardized tests may also include essay test components.

Specifically, book reports, term papers, lab reports, and student journals are examples of essay tests.

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Benefits of Formal Assessments in 2022

The benefits of formal assessment outweigh its cons. Firstly, it provides for balance and fairness. Why is this so? This is so because every student is assessed using the same standards.

Secondly, Teachers often use formal assessment when they need to rate students’ performance.

Haven said this, let’s now look at some other benefits of formal assessment:

  • Formal assessments help to assess the effectiveness of education programs. From formal assessment outcomes, Instructions can make course revisions or new course placement decisions.
  • Formal tests are trustworthy, providing real and quantitative proof of learning. The instructor can determine whether the students have acquired and grasped the content by using certain methods.
  • Because it employs a set grading method to assess students’ knowledge, this test reduces examiner error.
  • Formal assessment encourages students to pay greater attention in class in order to do better and receive higher grades.
  • It provides a chance for large-scale input. Teachers may identify each student’s strengths and shortcomings after grading standardized tests, offer comments, and modify their teaching methods to meet these areas.

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Formal vs. Informal Assessment

The formal vs. informal assessment discusses the distinction between the two tests.

While formal assessment is a comprehensive and pre-planned means of testing students’ learning of information given in the classroom, informal assessment is a less strict and systematic assessment that occurs within and outside the classroom.

Both informal and formal assessments, however, are necessary for monitoring student development, though in different ways.

Furthermore, the informal assessment will assist teachers in determining if a student is learning a subject or improving skills as they grow, whereas formal assessments will assist teachers in determining a student’s performance at a certain moment in time.


What is a formal assessment example?

Tests, quizzes, surveys, and questionnaires are common examples of formal assessment. Informal assessment examples include exit surveys, observation, and presentations.

Formal and informal assessments can, in some ways, apply the same processes.

What is a formal assessment task?

Formal assessment tasks are modified for quality standards and to verify that suitable standards are maintained.

They are, however, marked and formally recorded by the teacher for reasons of development and certification.

What is formal assessment requirements?

Formal assessment (assessment of learning) gives teachers a formal way of assessing how well students are developing in a certain subject and grade level.

Indeed, teachers must ensure that assessment requirements are clearly explained to students prior to the assessment procedure.

Is formative assessment formal or informal?

Formative Assessment can be as informal as viewing the learner’s work or as formal as a written test.

Formative assessment, on the other hand, is the most effective sort of assessment for improving students’ learning and performance.

What are the benefits of formal assessments in aged care?

One benefit is that this assessment can determine if a person can remain in their home with increased help from in-home care, or whether their conditions need them to enter permanent residential care.

What are the 4 principles of assessment?

The 4 principles of assessment include?

  • Validity
  • Reliability
  • Flexibility
  • Fairness


Formal assessment does, in fact, assist you in obtaining accurate and dependable results. You should be aware that even using this standard method, you can still grade improperly.

As a result, an incorrect assessment and unfair student representation occur.
To avoid this, you must ask the correct questions and grade using objective standards.

That being stated, we hope you have gained sufficient knowledge concerning formal assessment.


  • Kamiapp – The Benefits of Formative Assessment 
  • Vittana – 12 advantages and disadvantages of standardized testing


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