How to Assess with No Test (Formative Assessments)

Old-school teachers like to teach and test, teach and test. Tests and quizzes can be effective measures of a student’s progress, but they are rarely used to their full potential. If a quiz or test reveals that there were concepts that students did not master, then teachers need to re-teach. This concept defines the term “formative assessment.” As a teacher you should constantly check on students’ progress toward the lesson objective or unit objective(s) and modify your instruction according to results. Formative assessments should be used to give immediate feedback to students on their progress so they know what skills and concepts they need to work on to improve. This style of teaching focuses on mastery learning. Once a student masters a concept, then he or she can master another concept and another, etc. For example, a student must master addition and subtraction before learning multiplication and division. The key to creating effective formative assessments is to keep them short so you can correct and return them (if necessary) in a timely manner. Grade them if you want, but the important thing is that you know students are learning.

Examples of Formative Assessments

Here is a list of examples of formative assessment ideas other than quizzes and tests:

  • Brief in-class writing assignment
  • Cause and Effect Chart
  • Chapter Skim
  • Class/group discussions
  • Class Q and A
  • Concept Maps
  • Debate
  • GIST sentences
  • Graphic organizers
  • Exit Cards (aka Exit Tickets or Exit Passes)
  • Homework exercises
  • Interview Students
  • Journals
  • KWL Charts
  • Newspaper Headline
  • Notebook Exchange
  • Observations
  • Peer-Assessments
  • Picture with Caption
  • Review Games
  • RSQC2
  • Summarize Main Ideas
  • Student Surveys
  • Self-Assessments
  • Think-Pair-Share
  • Thumbs-up/Thumbs-down

Related Posts:
How to Lesson Plan in Religion and Catechesis
Creating Lesson Objectives
Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to Create Lesson Objectives


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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. Chuck Kincaid says:

    Dear Jared,
    Thank you for your website. I am a Sunday morning 8th grade Religious Ed teacher and I am learning a lot. I struggle with this page, though, not because I don’t agree, but because I don’t have time. Or at least I don’t think so. We meet for maybe an hour of real class time for 3 out of 4 weeks in a month. Each week is a new topic so we would lose a lot to go back and re-teach the previous material. And, since they’re 8th graders and it’s early Sunday morning, they struggle with caring about the material in the first place. Any advice for (I think) the many people in this situation?

    Thanks again for your ministry!