Assessment vs Testing: what's the difference?

Assessment and testing are often used interchangeably. What’s the difference between assessment and testing? When developing instruction, it’s important to know what the difference is between assessment and testing. This article will give the answer, so keep on reading!

What is assessment?

Assessment is the systematic process of documenting and using empirical data on the knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs. By taking the assessment, teachers try to improve student learning. This is a short definition of assessment.If you want to read more about assessment, click on this link.

What is testing?

Almost everybody has experienced testing during his or her life. Grammar tests, driving license test etc. A test is used to examine someone’s knowledge of something to determine what that person knows or has learned. It measures the level of skill or knowledge that has been reached. An evaluative device or procedure in which a sample of an examinee’s behavior in a specified domain is obtained and subsequently evaluated and scored using a standardized process (The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, 1999)

So, what’s the difference?

Test and assessment are used interchangeably, but they do mean something different. A test is a “product” that measures a particular behavior or set of objectives. Meanwhile assessment is seen as a procedure instead of a product. Assessment is used during and after the instruction has taken place. After you’ve received the results of your assessment, you can interpret the results and in case needed alter the instruction. Tests are done after the instruction has taken place, it’s a way to complete the instruction and get the results. The results of the tests don’t have to be interpreted, unlike assessment. 

Read more about assessment vs evaluation.

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