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Formative Assessment


“Formative assessment is a continuous process throughout the vocational training period using specific assessment tools to identify individual strengths and weaknesses at set points during training. It allows the development of tailor made personal development plans and allows the registrar to compare his or herself with their peer group. In summary, it is developmental (ie help you become even better)”.

The aim of formative assessment is to enable you, as a GP trainee, to identify your educational needs and, with the help of your general practice/hospital trainer to take steps to address those needs. You’re e-portfolio will help you towards the development of a portfolio of learning for the whole of your training career. Because Formative assessment is intended to help you develop, it should not be confused with Summative Assessment (which is a test of competence). Examples of formative assessment tools include:

  • Problem case analyses
  • Random case analyses
  • Video consultation analyses
  • Appraisal


Summative assessments are those types of assessments in which a judgement in being made upon you as to whether you reach a particular standard; in other words to see whether you “make the grade”. The MRCGP components for instance are examples of summative types of assessents. Sometimes, what we normally consider as summative assessments (for example an multiple choice question paper) can be used in a formative way eg using MCQs to identify your weak areas to help you work on them.

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