Pre-tests are a test given before you present any content. This type of assessment can be used to provide the instructor with important information on what their students already know so they can tailor their lessons to concepts that the students haven’t yet grasped.

Pre-test benefits

  • Allows for tailoring of instruction (formative)
  • Self-assessment (formative)
  • Encourages those who perform poorly to pay attention to the lecture topic
  • Stimulation of interest in the topic
  • Facilitates learning gains measurement with Post-test (summative)

Best Practices

  • Technology such as online surveys and classroom response systems, or clickers, are a great way to employ this technique without taking up a lot of time.


  • Pashler, H., Bain, P., Bottge, B., Graesser, A., Koedinger, K., McDaniel, M., and Metcalfe, J. (2007). Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning (NCER 2007-2004). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from
    • Of pertinence to Pre-Tests is Recommendation #5 on using quizzing to introduce a topic and to review information for scaffolding (building knowledge onto existing knowledge). A summary of evidence is also included for each recommendation.