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Summative and Formative Tests

While it may also seem like a burden, providing remarks in any kind of test is vital as it helps the student to correct their errors and advance learning. There are different kinds of feedback provided relying on whether the test is formative or summative. Formative exams are common in mathematics and they are used to grant a source of constant information to students. For this reason, feedback is aimed at ensuring that college students are aware of their progression throughout the course. The three major characteristics embodied by this form of feedback are collaboration, description and continuousness. In this case, fabulous feedback should exhibit the student the actual vis a vis the preferred level of performance (Boesen, Lithner & Palm, 2010).

Considering that mathematics involves the participation of the teacher and the student, the feedback should reflect the same. For instance, it should motivate students to identify or use various strategies to arrive at the correct answer (Boese et al., 2010). Additionally, such type of feedback should also have well defined goals that will guide the student in controlling their learning. According to Joyner and Muri (2011), students use feedback for self assessment in mathematics and this is immensely helpful in progression.

Feedback provided after summative tests differ from those offered in formative tests because they are comprehensive, non-collaborative and based mostly on the view of the teacher. Unlike feedback offered in a formative assessment test, the teacher is the only one with an opportunity to respond to a summative test (Harlen, 2007). The teacher uses such tests to analyze whether the student met the long term goal of the course. The student may not have time to respond but they can use the criticism to gauge their progression (Joyner & Muri, 2011). However, it is necessary for students to always take part in both tests.


Boesen, J., Lithner, J., & Palm, T. (2010). The relation between types of assessment tasks and the mathematical reasoning studeents use. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 75(4), 89-105.

Harlen, W. (2007). Criteria for evaluating systems for student assessment. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 33, 15-28.

Joyner, J., & Muri, M. (2011). Informative Assessment. Sausalito: Math Solutions

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