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13 Different Types of Assessments You Should Know About

7 Different Types of Assessments

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 either 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 assessment and provide tips for choosing the best assessment type for your requirements and conducting it effectively.

Let’s go.

What Are the Different Types of Assessments?

Assessments come in all shapes and sizes. This variety can make it confusing to sort them out if you’re new to them. But distinguishing between 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

One of the most common types of assessments in learning is the diagnostic assessment. It’s a set of written questions that assess learners’ current knowledge levels.

It provides a snapshot of where your learners currently stand, enabling you to make informed instructional choices. You can use the information gathered from a diagnostic assessment to create personalized educational or training courses.

When it comes to the employee training side of things, diagnostic assessments serve as one of the most crucial components 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.  


Goal: To find out learners’ existing knowledge levels and learning needs so you can personalize your learning material and instruction methodology

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 that’ll require employee training, such as creating or restructuring departments, a change in the strategic vision, introduction of new business software, succession planning, etc. 


2. Formative Assessment

Formative assessments help find out how learners are progressing through your learning material. They let you easily identify misconceptions, struggles, and learning gaps so you can shape learning in a way that smoothly enhances learners’ abilities. Formative assessments also make your learning module more engaging to improve knowledge comprehension and retention. 


  • In-course assessments 
  • Weekly quizzes
  • Group projects
  • Progress reports
  • Class discussions
  • Entry and exit tickets

Goal: To track learning progress and provide & receive feedback

Based on the feedback, instructors can decide what to focus on in their instructions.

When to Conduct: You can conduct formative assessments throughout the instruction process.


3. Summative Assessment

Summative assessment helps evaluate learners’ knowledge or proficiency at the conclusion of an instructional period, such as a unit, course, or program. You can compare the results from the diagnostic assessment with that from the summative assessment to measure the effectiveness of your course and its benefits in the long term. 



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

Goal: To assess a learning program’s overall impact and gain insights for refining learning materials and instruction methodology

When to Conduct: Immediately after the end of 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 Test

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.


  • Quarterly exams
  • End-term exams

Goal: To implement the best techniques & teaching styles to accommodate learning needs

When to Conduct: At the end of every quarter or month

5. Ipsative Assessment

Ipsative assessments compare learners’ current performance with their 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 & instructor work together to identify their strengths & weaknesses based on their assessment results.


Goal: To track individual-level progress

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 compare a learner’s performance with that of a group of learners of the same grade level. Simply put, a learner’s score is compared to the average score of a group of learners who’ve already taken the assessment. 

The group used for comparison is called the “norming group,” and the scores used for comparison are norm-referenced, generally expressed as a percentage.



Goal: To find out the highest and lowest-performing learners

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

7. Criterion-Referenced Assessment

Criterion-referenced assessment tests learners against a set of pre-defined standards or criteria. 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 of them for improvement.



Goal: To measure a learner’s level of skill or mastery over a specific body of knowledge

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 an extended version of the summative assessment. It checks a learning program for continued effectiveness by having learners take a test a few months or a year after learning. In doing so, such assessments also help assess the quality of the learning material and the teaching/training strategies employed to deliver them.  

Example: Term papers 

Goal: To check knowledge retention and assess the long-term success of your teaching/training methodology  

When to Conduct: A few months or a year after a learning program concludes  

9. Refresher Assessment

Refresher assessments are quite 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



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

Example: Compliance awareness assessments  

Goal: To create long-term knowledge retention 

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


10. Scenario-Based Assessment

Scenario-Based assessment is 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 also help make learning more engaging when deployed as formative assessments.  


  • Situational judgment tests
  • Job simulations for hiring   

Goal: To assess practical knowledge in recruitment and summative assessments

When to Conduct:

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

11. Skill Assessment

Skill assessments are tests used in hiring and succession planning processes 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 hard/role-specific skills and soft skills, such as time management, communication, and more. 


Goal: To hire or promote the best candidates who can be a part of highly productive teams   

When to Conduct: Early on in the recruitment process for screening candidates or as part of succession planning 


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

12. Cognitive Skills Assessment 

Cognitive ability is an excellent predictor of job performance, meaning that cognitive skills are as important as technical skills when assessing candidates or employees to determine their suitability for key positions in your company. 

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


Goal: To hire and promote candidates/employees with good cognitive abilities  

When to Conduct: Early on in the recruitment process for screening candidates or as part of succession planning


13. 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. 

Important note: If you use personality assessments for hiring, make sure that 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.

Result: The company was able to make the training unique and fun. It could create an approachable and practical experience for its workforce.


Goal: To improve hiring and onboarding,  

When to Conduct: Toward the end of a hiring process, during onboarding, or before starting a new learning program.


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

What Purpose Do Different Types of Assessment 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. As a result of the assessment, you can reinforce effective instructions and revise the ineffective ones.

4. Avoid Wasted Training 

Employee training can be insanely 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 that you deliver an impactful, result-oriented training program every time. 

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

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 this tool and its library of 100+ customizable courses, you can easily deliver highly engaging training featuring videos, quizzes, 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 letting you hire people who are not only highly skilled but also the right fit for the job.

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 both 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 following 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 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 for 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. 

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. 

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 & 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:



In 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! 

How to Conduct Online Assessments Effectively: Top Tips

Here are some tips to create 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 must 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 assessment.


Watch: Question Types for Online Learning & Assessment

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

  • 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 


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 Theme for Your Quiz

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 must:

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


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 are some things you must be able to do with your assessment tool:

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

Watch: How to Choose the Best Assessment Software

That was a roundup of 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 online using online assessment software. 

Effective Assessments = Better Learning & Hiring Outcomes

Successful online assessment is a never-ending process. Ideally, you can create many types of assessments for learning or hiring. But, no matter which assessment style you choose, you must continue to evaluate 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 100+ professionally designed assessments, making it the simplest and easiest way to create effective assessments for any business or educational requirement. ProProfs also offers 15+ question types, robust security settings, and delightful reporting & analytics. 

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About the author


Kamy is an eLearning & training expert. He has been published in eLearningIndustry, TrainingMag. As a corporate trainer at ProProfs, he has been instrumental in building an awesome eLearning management system that has simplified learning and training for thousands of customers across the globe. Follow Kamy @kamyanderson