Exit Cards as Formative Assessment

Exit CardsLast week I shared a very important teaching strategy I use at the beginning of class: advance organizers. Today I’d like to share a teachings strategy that I use very often at the end of class: exit cards.

One of the quickest and easiest ways to check a student’s progress toward a learning objective is to conduct a quick formative assessment. Formative assessments are check-points in a lesson that are used to shape additional instruction by providing feedback to the students and new strategies to help them learn the parts where they show weakness.

My favorite formative assessment is the exit card.

An exit card is sometimes referred to as an “exit ticket.” The teacher poses a question or a short writing prompt and the students write their answers on a note card or a slip of paper. The idea is that they are not allowed to exit the room until they hand the teacher their exit card/exit ticket.

Why I Love the Exit Card Teaching Strategy

1. It is easy to assign an exit card without any preparation.

When I’m unable to completely get through a lesson, I still end the class with a quick assessment of progress toward the learning objective. I make sure the students have about 5 minutes to spend on the assignment (though I occasionally give them a set amount of time for things like 1-minute papers).

2. I can do a quick check before the next lesson.

When I taught in a high school, I would scan through the exit cards to see what students were misunderstanding. Then I would adjust my teaching strategies for the next class period if I was repeating the same lesson for them. Also, exit cards do not take much time to check so you should be able to dedicate a greater amount of time to grading bigger assignments.

3. I can write short feedback on the card before returning it.

A critical element of all formative assessments is the feedback. When students make mistakes, I write comments or page numbers for them to correct their answers. Occasionally, I would have them turn the cards in with the correct answer.

4. It is fun.

You can really have some fun with this and create slips of paper that resemble actual tickets. This gets the point across that the students’ “ticket” out of the room is completing the assignment.

Entrance Cards

Of course, the closely related sibling of the exit card is the “entrance card.” The entrance card is a great example of an effective bell work activity. The concept is the same. In order to enter the class, students must complete the entrance card. If you collect them at the end of the bell work time, you might have the opportunity to check them later during the class. You could also have the students raise their hands and have you check their answers. Make them rewrite their responses until they have what you are looking for.

(photo credit: davegray)


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About Jared Dees

Jared Dees is the creator of The Religion Teacher. He is the Content Marketing Manager at Ave Maria Press and the author of 31 Days to Becoming a Better Religious Educator, To Heal, Proclaim, and Teach, and Praying the Angelus.


  1. lynne Firpo says:

    Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana California rolled out ipads to its nearly 2,000 students this fall. I can see how this “exit or entrance card” technique can be easily adopted to the rapidy growiing technological environments in educational settings. Each of our students has the web at their finger tips. Seveal examples of how “exit cards” can be submitted electronically are through platforms such as google groups, drop box groups, edmoto, edline, and I am sure there are others.
    We are truly experiencing a new frontier in education.

    • Lynne, thank you for sharing! There are so many exiting things you can do with the iPad. I love the idea of taking strategies that work well in print and applying them to the digital learner.

      Great examples of tools!

  2. Like the excit card idea will definitely use often

  3. Judith Soriano says:

    Thank you very much for sharing your expertise to make our theology class more meaningful to our students by employing different strategies. Teaching the faith needs creativity. Thank you very much for the insights.

  4. Marge Marino says:

    I love the exit card idea! I have a roll of tickets…..I am going to give each Confirmandi 7 tickets. He/ she will be asked at the end of the presentation to write the name of one gift on each ticket. (plus his/her name) The tickets will be checked during break, then all tickets with correct gifts listed will be thrown into a bowl for a prize drawing. Thanks for the idea!