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Mastering Assessments: How Parents and Friends Can Boost Learning

Sophia Becker



Assessment Guides

Assessments are a cornerstone of the educational experience, shaping how students learn and demonstrate their knowledge. In high school and college, where academic pressures intensify, understanding and excelling in various types of assessments can significantly impact a student’s success. Parents and friends play a crucial role in supporting students through this journey. Here’s a guide to six types of assessments and how you can help students excel in each.

6 Types of Assessments: How to Help High School and College Students Excel

6 Types of Assessments

1. Formative Assessments:

  • What They Are: Formative assessments are informal checks of student understanding, typically conducted during the learning process. They include quizzes, class discussions, and in-class activities.

How to Help:

  • Parents: Encourage regular review sessions at home, making use of flashcards or educational apps that offer practice quizzes. Engage in discussions about what they’re learning, and ask open-ended questions to stimulate critical thinking.
  • Friends: Form study groups where you can quiz each other, discuss topics, and clarify doubts. Peer teaching is a powerful tool—explaining concepts to friends can reinforce your own understanding.

2. Summative Assessments

  • What They Are: Summative assessments evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional period. These include final exams, end-of-term projects, and standardized tests.

How to Help:

  • Parents: Create a quiet, distraction-free study environment at home. Help them develop a study schedule that breaks down the material into manageable chunks and includes regular breaks.
  • Friends: Share resources like notes and past papers. Organize mock exams to simulate the test environment, helping each other get comfortable with the pressure of timed assessments.

3. Diagnostic Assessments

  • What They Are: Diagnostic assessments are pre-tests that identify students’ strengths and weaknesses before instruction begins. They help teachers tailor their lessons to meet students’ needs.

How to Help:

  • Parents: Discuss the results with your child and their teachers to understand areas needing improvement. Use educational resources to address specific weaknesses.
  • Friends: Collaborate to tackle challenging topics together. If someone excels in a particular area, let them lead study sessions on that subject.

4. Ipsative Assessments

  • What They Are: Ipsative assessments compare a student’s current performance with their past performances. They focus on personal improvement rather than comparison with peers.

How to Help:

  • Parents: Celebrate progress, no matter how small. Positive reinforcement can boost confidence and motivation. Set realistic, incremental goals to help track improvement.
  • Friends: Encourage each other by acknowledging personal achievements. Share strategies that have worked well for you and cheer each other on in overcoming challenges.

5. Norm-Referenced Assessments

  • What They Are: These assessments compare a student’s performance against a national or international standard or with other students. Examples include SATs and ACTs.

How to Help:

  • Parents: Invest in test prep materials or consider enrolling your child in a prep course. Monitor progress and provide continuous encouragement.
  • Friends: Study together for these standardized tests. Exchange tips and strategies for tackling different sections, and keep each other motivated through the preparation period.

6. Criterion-Referenced Assessments

  • What They Are: Criterion-referenced assessments measure student performance against a fixed set of criteria or learning standards. Examples include AP exams and state assessments.

How to Help:

  • Parents: Familiarize yourself with the criteria and standards your child needs to meet. Provide resources and support to help them understand and meet these criteria.
  • Friends: Create study schedules focused on the specific criteria of the assessment. Use rubrics to evaluate each other’s work and offer constructive feedback.

Additional Tips for Supporting Students

  1. Encouraging Time Management: Effective time management is crucial for success in all types of assessments. Parents can help students develop a study plan that allocates specific times for different subjects and activities. Friends can remind each other of deadlines and hold each other accountable for sticking to their schedules.
  2. Providing Emotional Support: Academic stress can take a toll on students’ mental health. Parents should maintain open lines of communication, offering a listening ear and emotional support. Friends should watch out for signs of stress and offer encouragement and understanding.
  3. Leveraging Technology: Use educational apps and online resources to supplement learning. Parents can introduce apps that offer practice questions and interactive learning experiences. Friends can share useful websites and tools that have helped them in their studies.
  4. Creating a Positive Study Environment: A positive study environment is key to effective learning. Parents should ensure that the study area is well-lit, quiet, and free from distractions. Friends can help each other find conducive study spaces, whether it’s a library, coffee shop, or quiet corner at home.
  5. Engaging in Regular Review: Regular review helps reinforce learning and improve retention. Parents can set aside time each week for a review session. Friends can organize weekly study groups to go over material together, ensuring that everyone stays on track.
  6. Education Loan: Education loans have become a common solution to bridge the financial gap. However, taking an education loan is a substantial commitment that requires careful consideration and planning.


Assessments are a critical component of the educational journey, and with the right support from parents and friends, students can navigate them successfully.  By understanding the different types of assessments and implementing these strategies, you can help high school and college students not only meet but exceed their academic goals. Remember, your encouragement and support can make a significant difference in their educational experience.

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