Summative Assessment: A Sum Up of Student’s Learning

In this article, we will know everything about summative assessments including its importance and weightage in CBSE Class 10 final result. We will also know about the major differences between summative assessments and formative assessments.

Created On: Aug 29, 2016 12:00 IST

Summative assessment refers to the assessment or evaluation of students’ learning, skill acquisition, and academic achievement at the conclusion of a specific instructional period. It is generally conducted at the end of a course in order to determine whether the long-term learning goals have been met. It mainly focuses on the outcome of a program. Summative assessments enable the tutors to evaluate the students’ learnings at a particular point of time and assign a mark to them which will contribute to the final outcome of the students' degree.

Some of the striking features of summative assessments:

•    They are conducted at the conclusion of a specific instructional period to check the students’ learning process.

•    They are generally evaluative, rather than diagnostic which means they are more appropriately used to evaluate the effectiveness of the educational programs and measure ongoing progress toward improvement goals.

•    They include tests, assignments or projects to determine whether and to what degree students have learned what they have been taught in the course of time. 

•    The results of summative assessments are recorded as scores or grades that are then reflected in a student’s permanent academic record.

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Importance of summative assessments:

•    Summative assessment can serve as a guide to improve teaching and learning methods from year to year.

•    When planned in a systematic manner, the summative assessments can help to draw inferences about the students’ learning.

•    Summative assessments help the teachers and administrators  to make improvements in the curriculum so as to fill up the learning gaps between the students’  knowledge and the teaching.

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How are summative assessments different from formative assessments?

In a balanced assessment system, both summative and formative assessments form an integral part of the educational evaluation, with each having its own distinct purpose. Some main points of differences between the two contrasting assessments are as:

•    Summative assessments are generally administered at the end of the instructional period, whereas the formative assessment is a part of the instructional process.

•    Summative assessments usually occur only a few times over the course of the academic year generally at the end of a course. On the other hand, formative assessments may occur several times during a course or unit.

•    The major purpose of the formative assessments is to gather explicit feedback that can be used by the educator and the students to guide improvements in the ongoing teaching and learning context, whereas the summative assessments aim at measuring the level of success or proficiency obtained at the end of an instructional period.

•    Formative assessments help the teachers to determine the next steps during the learning process as the instructional period is approaching the summative assessment. But the summative assessments are used to track the students’ work, abilities and progress throughout the entire learning process and assess them at the end of the course.

•    Formative assessment only concentrates on improving the abilities of students as they move through the learning process but does not grade their performance. Therefore formative assessments have generally low stakes which means they have low point value. Summative assessments on the other hand, is broader in scope and grade the learning over a longer time period due to which they tend to have higher stakes.

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When are Summative and Formative Assessments conducted and how much do they weigh?

Type of Assessment

Percentage of weightage in academic session


Term wise weightage

First Term

Formative Assessment-I



FA-I+FA-II = 20%

Formative Assessment-II



Summative Assessment - I



SA-I = 20%

Second Term

Formative Assessment-III



FA-III+FA-IV = 20%

Formative Assessment-IV



Summative Assessment - II



SA-II = 40%

Total Formative Assessments = FA-I + FA-II + FA-III + FA-IV = 40%

Summative Assessment = SA-I + SA2 = 60%

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