A formal assessment is a standardized method for testing how well a student has learned the material that has been taught. Formal assessments create statistical models that can be used to compute the performance of each student.
Four types of tests are used in formal assessments. Standardized tests, such as the ACT, compare a student's knowledge to that of a regional or national group of students. Program tests, such as common quizzes, are used to measure the level of knowledge retention. Essay tests, such as dissertations, are used to measure the student's intellectual breadth and level of discourse. Criterion-referenced tests, such as driving and citizenship exams, measure the student's level of proficiency in a subject based on established learning standards.