[ suhm-uh-tiv ]
/ ˈsʌm ə tɪv /
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Origin of summative

1880–85; <Medieval Latin summāt(us) (see summation) + -ive
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does summative mean?

Summative is an adjective that means cumulative or characterized or produced by addition.

Summative is most frequently used in the context of education, especially in the terms summative assessment and summative evaluation, which are evaluations of student learning at the end of a course or lesson or during a particular educational stage. A close synonym for summative is cumulative, which is much more commonly used.

Example: At the end of the year, we have to take a summative assessment that covers everything we were supposed to learn.

Where does summative come from?

The first records of the word summative in English come from the 1800s. It is based on the Medieval Latin summāt(us). The root of the word is the Latin verb summāre, meaning “to sum” or “to add up,” which is the root of words like sum and summary.

In general, summative describes something that is produced through addition. A summative process often involves an incremental increase in something. In the context of education, summative is used in much the same way as cumulative and comprehensive. This means that a student will be tested or evaluated based on everything they have been taught over a certain span of time—covering all of the information that has added up or accumulated over the course of that period. The term is often used to contrast with formative assessments, which test students on recent lessons. Standardized tests are often considered summative assessments.

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What are some other forms of summative?

  • summatively (adverb)

What are some synonyms for summative?

What are some words that share a root or word element with summative

What are some words that often get used in discussing summative?

How is summative used in real life?

Summative is most often used in the context of education to describe a test that encompasses the sum of all things learned.



Try using summative!

If you take a test only on things you’ve learned in the past week, is it more likely to be described as formative or summative?