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Formative Assessments: Using Exit Tickets to Guide Your Instruction

Using formative assessments can help you determine what your students understand from your lesson.  They are quick and meaningful check-ins with your student’s understanding and can be used to assess how well students understand the material that was taught.  Exit tickets are the perfect formative assessments because they help you understand if students have an in-depth understanding of the skills that you are teaching, you do not need to wait for a formal assessment to reteach a skill, adapt instruction, or provide intervention.

What are formative assessments?

Formative assessments are assessments that are used FOR student learning compared to assessments that are OF student learning.  Formative assessments occur daily during instruction.  You will be able to identify concepts and skills that students are struggling to understand. 

You can make adjustments to lessons and decide where support is needed.  Formative assessments will help you revise techniques before continuing on with the topic skill, rather than waiting for the end of the unit or project or formal assessment.

What are exit tickets?

Exit tickets are given after a lesson and are a quick check-in with students to see what they understood from the lesson.  They are not a test, but a quick one or two question prompt to see where there are gaps in students' understanding.

When you are using exit tickets, they should be linked to the objective of the lesson. They can be short answers, multiple-choice, or any other creative way that you’d like students to respond.  An important part of an exit ticket is that it should only take students a minute or two to complete; remember, it is not a test!  

Why use exit tickets?

Using exit tickets will allow you to get to know your students as learners.  You will see where and when they struggle which will allow you to group students according to their struggles and strengths.  Exit tickets will help you to identify specific questions that students have and help you determine how to best meet students’ needs by modifying or adjusting instruction.

How can use use formative assessments to guide instruction?

Using exit tickets as a formative assessment will shape the way you plan your lessons by allowing you to tailor the lessons to your students’ needs.  It will take the focus away from grades and bring the focus on the learning process by embracing the questions and comments students pose on their tickets.   Looking at the questions students have at the end of a lesson allows you to re-evaluate what you will teach, and how you will continue on tomorrow.

Collecting Exit Tickets

Depending on your own preference, you can use digital or printable exit tickets.  Exit tickets can be used daily, a few times a week, once a week, or whenever best fits your unit.  Be sure that your students understand that it is not “for a grade,” it is more of a reflection; so being honest is important.  

If you are collecting your exit tickets digitally, you can compile student information from whatever platform they submitted.  If students submitted papers, you can just collect your information from their tickets.  

You can use a notebook or a journal for exit tickets where students can keep their exit tickets.  It allows you to monitor student learning on a day-to-day basis, rather than waiting for the end of a unit or project to touch base with their understanding.  You are able to assess how students are feeling and determine where students may need more support.

Using a journal is beneficial for students because it is like a portfolio that they can look back on to see how they've grown.  Students can learn to be lifelong learners by continuously questioning, learning, and growing.

Evaluating Exit Tickets

You should be looking to see the class’ understanding overall.  As a whole were there any repeating questions, problems, or misunderstandings.  Identify students’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as the strengths and weaknesses in the lesson taught.  You can use the information to group students and determine which group needs more direct instruction.

When using exit tickets as formative assessments, students will fundamentally become more aware of their own learning progress by posing questions, celebrating growth and strengths, and self-assessing their own learning.

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Happy Teaching!



    July 31, 2020 / 12:26 pm

    How do I access these formative assessments? Maybe I am too tired this morning to see clearly😉 – I just don’t see the link to get them. Any help is appreciated. Thanks! Jana

    • Jen
      July 31, 2020 / 1:57 pm

      Hi Jana! You can click on the photos and it should take you to get a closer look and I just added a link that shows more specifically where to click. Thanks so much!

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