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13 Different Types of Assessments You Should Know About


What comes to your mind when you hear the word “assessment”? Is it a periodic test? A high-stakes exam? A job interview? Or maybe even a personality evaluation?

Here’s a fact — it can be any of those things. 

Depending on the purpose, there are many different types of assessments, both in education and business. Knowing when and how to use each type can be crucial in ensuring success.

This article will help you navigate the different types of assessments and provide tips for choosing the best assessment type for your requirements and conducting it effectively.

What Are the Different Types of Assessments?

There are a wide variety of assessments. This variety can make it confusing to sort them out if you’re new to them. But distinguishing between the assessments, learning their implementation, and their different purposes can help you understand how to utilize them best. 

Let’s look at the 13 types of assessments:

1. Diagnostic Assessment/Learning Needs Assessment

Diagnostic assessment is one of the most common types of assessments in learning. It assesses learners’ current knowledge levels and learning needs so you can personalize your learning material and instruction methodology. They show where your learners stand, helping you make informed instructional choices.

Diagnostic assessments can also help learners become more engaged and motivated. By activating their prior knowledge and setting their custom learning goals, learners can take ownership and responsibility for their learning.

Similarly, in employee training, diagnostic assessments are a crucial component of an overarching process known as training needs analysis (TNA)

Training needs analysis helps organizations achieve their goals by delivering the right training to the right people at the right time. 

When to Conduct: 

Teachers can conduct a diagnostic assessment at the beginning of the academic year, beginning of a unit, beginning of a lesson, etc. 

Businesses can conduct diagnostic assessments whenever the organization goes through significant changes requiring employee training, such as creating or restructuring departments, a change in the strategic vision, introducing new business software, succession planning, etc.


Examples of Diagnostic Assessments:

Graphic organizers, such as concept maps and K-W-L charts (example below)

How to Use Diagnostic Assessments:

Diagnostic assessments help you and your learners get ready for a new topic. Follow these steps to use them well:

Step 1: Make a diagnostic assessment that covers the learning goals and the prior knowledge of the topic.

Step 2: Give it to your learners and tell them it is for learning, not grading. It will show them and you what they know and need to learn.

Step 3: Check the results and see the strengths and weaknesses of your learners. Find out what they understand, misunderstand, or want to learn more about.

Step 4: Change your instruction based on the results. Skip or review topics as needed. Give different levels of challenge or support to different learners.

Step 5: Use the diagnostic assessment as a guide throughout the topic. Remind your learners of their goals and progress, and help them when they need it.

2. Formative Assessment

Formative assessments are ongoing checks that help you find out how your learners are progressing through your learning material. They aim to identify misconceptions, struggles, and learning gaps that may hinder your learners’ success. Using formative assessments, you can shape your learning to smoothly enhance their abilities and meet their needs. 

Formative assessments also make your learning module more engaging and effective. They keep your learners active and involved in the learning process, which improves their knowledge comprehension and retention. 

They also let you provide and receive feedback, which is essential for improving teaching and learning quality. Based on the feedback, you can decide what to focus on in your instructions and how to support your learners’ growth.

When to Conduct: 

You can conduct formative assessments throughout the instruction process.


Examples of Formative Assessments:

  • In-course assessments 
  • Weekly/monthly quizzes
  • Group projects
  • Progress reports summarizing learners’ achievements, strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and goals
  • Classroom discussions

Exit tickets: These are questions teachers ask at the end of a class or lesson to collect feedback and encourage student reflection. The questions are asked via sticky notes or digital mediums and serve as the “ticket to leave”.

How to Use Formative Assessments

Follow these steps to use formative assessments effectively to enhance learning:

Step 1: Create your learning program and add formative assessments at key points. For example, teachers can use them after an activity, a class, or a unit.

Step 2: Give the formative assessments to your learners in the format that best suits your requirements.

Step 3: Analyze how your learners are doing. Find out what they understand, misunderstand, or want to learn more about.

Step 4: Provide common and/or personalized feedback to your learners to help them understand where they went wrong, show them how they’re progressing, and guide them in their self-learning. 

Step 5: Ask for feedback on your teaching methods and materials from your learners.

Step 6: Adjust your teaching/training based on the learner feedback.

3. Summative Assessment

Summative assessment evaluates how well learners have achieved the learning objectives at the end of an instruction, such as a unit, course, or program. By comparing the diagnostic and summative assessment results, you can measure your learning program’s effectiveness and long-term benefits. 

Summative assessments also help you refine your learning materials and teaching methods. They can also help learners self-assess their learning outcomes and identify areas for improvement.


When to Conduct: 

You can conduct a summative assessment immediately after a course or learning program.

Watch: How Towle Driving School Streamlined Post-Training Assessment

Related Read: How to Evaluate Learning with Pre and Post-Training Tests

Examples of Summative Assessments:

  • Final assessment quiz in a training course 
  • Mid-term or end-term exams
  • Final project 
  • Unit tests
  • Standardized tests 
  • Theses or presentations

How to Use Summative Assessment:

Here are the steps to conduct an impactful summative assessment to assess and support learning:

Step 1: Choose an appropriate summative assessment method that matches the learning objectives and the content. 

Step 2: Design the assessment questions or tasks to measure the learners’ mastery of the learning objectives. Use a variety of question types or formats to assess different levels of thinking and skills.

Step 3: Conduct the assessment.

Step 4: Evaluate the learners’ performance using a rubric or scoring guide that reflects the learning objectives and the criteria for success.

Step 5: Provide feedback to the learners on their strengths and areas for improvement. Encourage them to review their work and find the right answers.

Step 6: Schedule retakes for those who want a chance to improve their score.

Step 7: Use the assessment results to inform instruction and plan future learning activities. Adjust your teaching strategies or materials based on the learners’ needs and progress.

4. Interim/Benchmark Assessment

Interim or benchmark assessment measures the academic progress of large groups of learners at periodic intervals. Considered one of the most important types of assessment in teaching, this assessment helps instructors assess if a group of learners is at par with the pre-defined learning standards. 

Interim assessments help implement the best techniques and teaching styles to accommodate learning needs.

When to Conduct: 

At the end of every quarter or month

Examples of Interim Assessments:

  • Quarterly exams
  • End-term exams

5. Ipsative Assessment

Ipsative assessments help track individual-level learning progress by comparing learners’ current and previous performances. They’re more personalized than any other form of assessment as they tell the learners how far they’ve progressed in their learning. 

Ipsative assessments help build a framework under which the learner and instructor work together to identify the learner’s strengths and weaknesses based on their assessment results.

When to Conduct: 

Anytime there’s a need to identify learners’ unique learning challenges and personalize your instruction approach


6. Norm-Referenced Assessment

Norm-Referenced assessments measure how well a learner performs relative to their peers. They rank learners from highest to lowest based on their scores in a specific grade level. The scores are compared to a standard group of learners who have already taken the assessment, called the “norming group.” 

The scores are norm-referenced, meaning they show the percentage of learners who scored lower than the learner in question.

For example, if a learner scored 80% on a norm-referenced assessment, it means that they did better than 80% of the learners in the norming group.

When to Conduct: 

Anytime there’s a need to identify learners who may have specific educational needs or shortcomings that require special assistance in terms of learning.

Examples of Norm-Referenced Assessments:


7. Criterion-Referenced Assessment

Criterion-referenced assessment tests learners against a set of pre-defined standards or criteria to measure their skill level or mastery over a specific body of knowledge. The instructors set certain goals or objectives known as criteria at the beginning of a course. 

The criterion-referenced assessment helps instructors identify the knowledge and understanding of learners as defined in the intended learning outcomes. Further, it enables instructors to provide feedback to learners about what is required for improvement.

When to Conduct: 

If there’s a need to make inferences from test performance about what a learner can do.



8. Confirmative Assessment

A confirmative assessment is a type of educational assessment that measures the long-term impact of a learning program. It involves testing learners after a significant period, such as several months or a year, to evaluate how well they have retained the knowledge they acquired.

In doing so, such assessments also help assess the quality of the learning material and the teaching/training strategies employed to deliver them.  

When to Conduct: 

A few months or a year after a learning program concludes  

Examples of Confirmative Assessments: 

  • Term papers 
  • One-on-one discussions
  • Observation of learners’ performance in real or simulated situations to assess their skills and competencies

9. Refresher Assessment

Refresher assessments are pretty similar to confirmative assessments in that both are conducted a while after the end of a learning program. 

The difference is that refresher assessments are conducted periodically and are aimed at helping learners boost their knowledge retention instead of only assessing the same.

Refresher assessments are a research-backed tool to improve knowledge recall and overcome the forgetting curve



Moreover, refresher assessments may be even more effective than restudying/retraining for this purpose.

When to Conduct: 

You can conduct refresher assessments every month, two months, quarter, etc., after your summative assessment, with the interval depending on your requirements and the course material’s complexity. 

For example, learning expert Matthew Tang says this about compliance training refresher assessments: 

  • Frequency should be based on the nature of the job/task

While more casual and less frequently conducted evaluations may be necessary in lower-risk locations, monthly formal assessments may be more appropriate in high-risk areas. For instance:

Infection control and death rates have a strong correlation in a hospital setting, which is a high-risk environment. People may die if personnel don’t follow compliance requirements.

For this reason, formal assessments should be utilized in conjunction with job aids (such as hand washing signs in restrooms) and management observations to regularly review compliance with infection prevention measures.

To guarantee safe chemical handling and storage, many workplaces that use cleaning products (like a retail store which can be a low-risk area) mandate that all staff members complete annual OSHA training.

For handling chemicals, there are specific guidelines in place for only maintenance personnel. It might not be necessary in this situation to test employees frequently, aside from maintenance personnel.


  • Frequency should be based on past performance


Monthly assessments and training become essential when a business is addressing recent sexual harassment or injury claims.


Examples of Refresher Assessments: 

10. Skill Assessment

Skill assessments are tests used in hiring and succession planning to evaluate a candidate’s or employee’s knowledge and skills to determine their suitability for a particular job role. 

Recruiters and managers can use such assessments to check for technical/role-specific skills and soft skills, such as time management, communication, and more.

When to Conduct: 

Early on in the recruitment process for screening candidates or as a part of succession planning 


Examples of Skill Assessments:

Read: How to Create Skill Assessment Tests to Hire the Right People

11. Cognitive Ability Assessment 

Cognitive ability is an excellent predictor of job performance, making it as important as technical or soft skills for assessing candidates’ or employees’ suitability for key positions in your company. 

Cognitive ability assessments test various cognitive abilities, such as logical, numerical, and spatial reasoning, critical thinking, problem-solving, etc.

When to Conduct: 

Early on in the recruitment process for screening candidates or as a part of succession planning


Examples of Cognitive Ability Assessments:

Related Read: The Power of Cognitive Assessments in Recruiting Talent

12. Personality Assessment

Personality assessments test a candidate or learner on various personality traits, such as extraversion, conscientiousness, emotional intelligence, etc. 

You can use these assessments for various business purposes, such as ensuring culture fit when hiring, ensuring role alignment when onboarding, understanding subordinates to manage them better, improving workplace conflict management, and more.

On the other hand, teachers can use personality assessments to find out their students’ learning styles so they can teach them in a more personalized and effective way. 

When to Conduct: 

Toward the end of a hiring process, during onboarding, or before starting a new learning program


Examples of Personality Assessments: 

Important note: If you use personality assessments for hiring, make sure you don’t employ them as a screening tool or the sole hiring criteria. Your pre-employment personality assessments must be consistent with a business necessity and used toward the end of your recruitment process to conduct better interviews and complement other recruitment assessments.  

13. Scenario-Based Assessment

Scenario-based assessments are crucial for effective training and hiring. Such assessments test the assessment taker’s practical knowledge and judgment by presenting them with a real or hypothetical situation and asking questions based on it. 


Besides being great for assessing expertise, scenario-based assessments can help make learning more engaging when deployed as formative assessments.  

When to Conduct:

  • Early on in the hiring process for screening candidates
  • Before, during, or after an employee training program 

Examples of Scenario-Based Assessments: 

  • Situational judgment tests
  • Job simulations for hiring   

So, those were the different types of assessments for education and business. Now let’s look at the benefits of conducting these assessments. 

What Purpose Do Different Types of Assessments Serve? 

Assessments play a key role in education, hiring, and training. Let’s see how.

1.  Drive Instructions

A diagnostic assessment informs instructors what learners know or don’t know at the outset, helping them set the direction of their instructions.

When conducted well, the data gathered using the assessment can help you bridge the gap between learners’ existing knowledge and the desired outcome. 

You must find out what the learners already know and use the existing knowledge as a stepping stone to relevant instructions.

Similarly, when you conduct the formative assessment, you can use the data gathered to revise and refine your instructions or practices to meet learner needs. 

2. Indicate Progress

Effective assessment of learners gives them a sense of what they know and don’t know about a topic or a subject. 

The feedback they get from their instructors helps learners reflect upon their learning patterns and indicates the aspects that need improvement. 

When constructed well, the feedback from the assessment can help learners become aware of their strengths and learning challenges in relation to the learning outcomes. 


3. Improve Instruction Practices

Reflection on learners’ progress offers instructors valuable insights into the effectiveness of their instructional practices. By systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data, they can find out if the learners’ knowledge level matches the desired outcomes. 

The data gathered from feedback informs the instructors of the practices they need to build upon, cut back, or strengthen during the next instruction. Based on the assessment results, you can reinforce effective instructions and revise the ineffective ones.

4. Avoid Wasted Training 

Employee training can be extremely expensive, which is evident from the fact that training expenditure in the US crossed the $100 billion mark in 2022. So, you simply can’t afford ineffective training sessions. 

Various types of employee assessments, including diagnostic, formative, summative, and refresher assessments, ensure you deliver an impactful, result-oriented training program every time. 

Related Read: Employee Training Assessment Guide: Train Smarter to Boost ROI 

Pro Tip: Besides leveraging different types and methods of training assessment, you can also improve your training programs by conducting your employee training online using a robust learning management system, such as ProProfs Training Maker

Using ProProfs Training Maker and its library of 100+ customizable courses, you can easily deliver highly engaging training courses featuring videos, quizzes, presentations, surveys, and much more. 

Watch: How to Create Employee Training Courses Online

5. Hire and Promote the Right People 

The cost of hiring bad-fit candidates is astronomical, with estimates ranging from $15,000 per bad hire to a whopping $840,000. Different assessment types for hiring, such as skill, cognitive ability, and personality assessments, can save you from such massive losses by ensuring you hire people who are not only highly skilled but also the right fit for your organization.

Similarly, using various types of employment tests can also enable you to make the best choices for succession planning by providing a streamlined way to test employees on technical and leadership skills. 


Those were the benefits of using different kinds of assessments for learning and other uses. 

Now, when it comes to learning, you must select the assessments carefully while considering some key factors to get the best results. In the next section, we’ll learn how to choose the most suitable options out of the various types of learning assessments.

How to Choose the Best Assessment Type for Learning 

You must choose an assessment type that helps evaluate your learners in a way that fits the goals of your instructions. 

We’ve shared some tips below to help you choose the best type of assessment: 

1. Take Into Account Different Learning Styles

All of your learners’ learning styles vary widely, and the strengths and challenges concerning the assessment vary as well. When choosing an assessment for learning, you must consider that variation. 

By taking into account the various learning styles of your learners, you’re more likely to offer equal opportunities to everyone to demonstrate their knowledge.

You can accomplish this by creating different types of assessment tests with different types of questions, for example, multiple-choice questions, image-based questions, hotspot questions, video response questions, essay-type questions, and more. 

Watch: Question Types for Online Learning & Assessment

2. Consider Assessment Intervals 

Flooding your learners with a series of assessments won’t help you if your learners need only a single assessment. 

Consider the frequency with which your learners should be assessed to reach the desired learning outcomes. And while you’re at it, also consider the factors that drive learning, such as your learners’ motivation to learn, attention, and energy level. 

Try various intervals, such as weekly, quarterly, and half-yearly, and choose the one that best supports your assessment needs.

3. Match Learning Goals to Assessment

What you assess is what your learners study, are engaged with, and explore in more depth. 

Begin with what you want learners to know and be able to do. This way, you can design and choose assessments that will help them demonstrate the appropriate knowledge and skills. 

Decide the learning outcomes, and then make a grid. Place the learning outcomes across one axis and the assessment demonstrating their achievement on the other. 

Refer to the following table as an example:

This way, you can double-check to ensure each learning outcome has been assessed. 

If you make it clear to learners how each assessment furthers the goals of the instruction, they can make informed choices about how to spend their limited learning time to achieve the course goals.

4. Collect Data on Learners’ Progress

Despite choosing the correct form of assessment and the intervals that best support your assessment needs, there will still be some topics or units of instruction where your learners will fall short. 

To find this out, you can try getting the answers to questions such as:

  • Which test questions are commonly missed? 
  • Which topics are difficult to grasp?
  • What misconceptions do learners have?

In that case, you can identify weaknesses in instruction and assessment choices and make adjustments as needed.

We know that after choosing an assessment type, you won’t want to wait to get started. But hold that thought, and read our next section for the best online assessment tips! 

How to Conduct Online Assessments Effectively: Top Tips

Here are some tips for creating the best assessment tests for education, training, or hiring.

1. Create Clear Rubrics

Rubrics are criteria that paint a picture of the upcoming assessments. Outline the topics and areas you’ll cover in the assessment and specify the grading scheme. 

Refer to the following example of a rubric:

Creating clear rubrics will help create a learning map for your learners to follow and give their best performance.

2. Establish the Purpose of the Assessment

Before you create an assessment, establish a clear purpose. This will ensure you can meet the end goals effectively.

Ask yourself questions such as:

  • How will you use the assessment scores?
  • What type of data will you gather?
  • What do you want to achieve with this assessment?

These questions will help find out the length, average difficulty level, and conditions for the assessment you want to create.

3. Support Learning

How learners learn and what they learn can depend greatly on how they think they’ll be assessed. Informing the learners about the assessment practices that you’re going to follow can help them decide: 

  • What to study 
  • How to study 
  • How much time to spend on a subject or topic 

By telling them what they must do to outshine their peers in an assessment, you can motivate learners to upgrade their self-learning game. 

4. Include a Mix of Question Types 

If you’re a teacher or trainer, you need to help achieve all your learners’ learning potential. So, include different question types such as hotspot, essay, true/false, image/video-based questions, etc., to create different types of assessments.

Avoid using only the multiple-choice question type. Instead, throw in a good mix of questions that require: 

  • Well-constructed responses 
  • Use of critical thinking 
  • Identification of skills
  • Logical reasoning
  • Practical knowledge
  • Situational judgment

5. Make It Visual

You can add images, videos, and audio clips to your assessment tests to make them more engaging. For example, you can: 

  • Add images or videos to your question statements and answer options
  • Present a video and ask questions based on it 
  • Add a video or image to the welcome screen 
  • Add images to instant question feedback to explain concepts 

Watch: How to Create a Video Quiz

You can also make your assessments more aesthetically pleasing by adding a beautiful theme. And you can customize the various elements of your theme to make it even better. For example, you can: 

  • Add a great-looking background 
  • Customize the fonts and colors 
  • Add your brand logo to the interface

Watch: How to Add and Customize a Quiz Theme 

6. Provide Excellent Feedback

You can provide question-wise feedback shown instantly after a learner submits an answer or personalized feedback after the assessment via text or video. 

Question-specific feedback engages learners and lets them understand where they went wrong, while personalized feedback lets you help learners identify their learning challenges and suggest measures to deal with them. 


7. Configure Anti-Cheating Settings 

Make sure you enable the anti-cheating settings your assessment tool offers so you conduct credible assessments. For example, you need to:

  • Prevent unauthorized access to your assessment using privacy settings, password protection, and individualized learner logins 
  • Enable proctoring and disallow tab switching 
  • Disable copying and printing of the assessment content
  • Randomize the order of questions and answer options 
  • Create a question pool/bank to present different question sets to different assessment takers

Watch: How to Configure Your Quiz Settings

8. Use the Right Assessment Tool

Want to properly implement all the assessment-making best practices and get all the benefits from various forms of assessment? You’ll need top-notch assessment software.  

Here’s what you should be able to do with your assessment tool:

  • Access readymade assessments, templates, and questions  
  • Conduct cheating-free assessments using security and anti-cheating settings 
  • Set up and manage an automated certification/recertification process 
  • Assess performance and progress in-depth using advanced reporting and analytics 
  • Design engaging assessments featuring interactive question types, multimedia, themes, etc. 

Watch: How to Choose the Best Assessment Software

Those were the tips for creating different types of assessments in education and business. You’re now ready to build an effective online assessment!

Watch: How to Create an Assessment Online

Here is a detailed guide to help you learn how to create an online assessment using assessment software.

Effective Assessments = Better Learning & Hiring Outcomes

Successful online assessment is a never-ending process. You can create many types of assessments for learning or hiring. But, no matter which assessment style you choose, you should keep evaluating your assessments.

Use the data from previous assessments to identify what worked well and what still needs improvement. Also, explore different types of assessment tools available on the web. With the right practices and the best assessment tool, your assessments will continue to become more effective.

So which assessment tool should you use? 

Try ProProfs Quiz Maker. It has an intuitive interface and is powered by a library of 1 million+ questions and hundreds of professionally designed assessments, making it the easiest way to create effective assessments for business or education. ProProfs also offers 15+ question types, robust security settings, and AI reporting

Do you want free Quiz Software?

We have the #1 Online Quiz Maker Software for complete learning & assessment

About the author

Michael Laithangbam is the senior writer & editor at ProProfs with 12 years of experience in enterprise software and eLearning. Michael's expertise encompasses online training, web-based learning, quizzes & assessments, LMS, and more. Michael’s work has been published in G2, Software Advice, Capterra, and eLearning Industry.