What Is a Cumulative Exam?

A cumulative examination is one that assesses a student’s knowledge of all of the content covered from the beginning of the term. Cumulative refers to a progressive increase in quantity resulting from successive additions. A cumulative examination encompasses all of the topics, which build upon one another.

In education, final exams are typically classified as either cumulative or unit exams. Last-unit tests cover less content and do not assess the student’s retention over the course of the semester. In accordance with the objective of the majority of courses, a satisfactory result on a cumulative final demonstrates that the student has successfully retained information as it was covered and expanded upon it.


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