Baseline assessments

Sometimes known as pre-testing, a baseline assessment is used to determine the prior knowledge that students have about a topic before it is taught.

Baseline assessments allow teachers to show students an overview of what they will be learning and direct their teaching. Baseline assessments can also be used to inform catch-up planning, or additional revision sessions towards the end of the course.

How Smart Revise can be used to create a baseline assessment


In addition to providing electronic flashcards, Smart Revise Terms is ideal for baseline assessments.

A teacher can:

  1. Enable a reflective or interactive Terms mode.
  2. Set the topic filters to just the topic being studied.

Reflective mode only requires students to read a definition and RAG rate themselves. Interactive mode also requires students to write a definition in addition to RAG rating themselves.

A student can:

  1. Select Terms reflective or interactive mode.
  2. Read the topic specific term, write a definition and RAG rate themsleves. Red = no knowledge, Amber = some knowledge, Green = understood.

After the assessment, a teacher can:

  • Use the Analytics – Smart Terms – Student overview report to see understanding of a topic at a glance.
  • Use the Analytics – Smart Terms – Terms analysis report to see the top ten least understood terms.
  • Use the Analytics – Smart Terms – Student responses report to see a more detailed analysis of each term and change the recorded confidence for a student.

Other possibilities for creating a baseline assessment


Smart Revise Tasks is ideal for setting assessments. These can be auto-marked multiple choice questions and/or self, peer, teacher marked longer answer questions.

When setting a baseline assessment task, we suggest either selecting all the quiz questions or all the terms questions in the selected topic.

Baseline assessment terms

The research

Pre-testing can feel like you are setting students up to fail, especially for those students whose confidence is related to consistent success in the classroom.

However, research challenges assumptions that failure in a pre-test is a problem. Pan & Sana (2021) found that taking a test before reading a text passage helped people to remember what they had subsequently read. It was found that pre-testing was even more productive than taking a test after studying a text.

Interest, curiosity and a desire to make sense of what a student was being tested on helps retention of knowledge during the learning process.

To be successful a pre-test needs to be low-stakes. A simple RAG rating against subject specific terminology in a topic enables students to know what they are going to learn while providing formative assessment data for the teacher. Teachers can ensure they spend more time on the areas of the topic that are least understood.

Pan, S & Sana, F (2021) Pretesting versus posttesting: comparing the pedagogical benefits of errorful gerneration and retrieval practice. Journal of Experimental Psychology Applied 27: 1-21