Testing vs. Assessment

Yesterday I was at an all day's teacher's in-service. It was on the MAP test, but that's neither here nor there. The thing that jumped out at me was when one of the moderators asked, "Are you testing or assessing?" That made me think. Testing--just a simple number. It's kind of like that stock review you get on your book. The "it's great!" There's no real meat behind that review.

Assessment is a different creature entirely. You measure and you change what you're doing based on those measurements. True reviews have both positives and things a reader didn't quite like. Every reader is different. We all like different aspects of books. I might love the world, my husband may love one particular character. I know for a fact, he always loved Wulfgar in the Icewind Dale books. Me, I was happy when Wulfgar was dragged down into the underworld for several books. Didn't mean I didn't like the books or that they weren't worthwhile, I just liked different aspects.

As a writer, when do you stop assessing your writing? One of the most difficult aspects of writing is letting go. Deciding that what I've written is good enough. I know I read, review, rewrite, obsess and assess my writing a lot before I finally let it go. Even then, I sometimes feel like diving into the mail box (virtual or literal) after it because there's more I can do, some way to make it better.  In fact, even when I look at the finished product of Ribbons, there are still things I might change. I think that's the nature of the beast.


  1. I submit there is a difference between assessing a given work and assessing your ability and craft. There is a limit to how much you should assess a given work but never stop assessing yourself and your craft. Just like there is a limit to how much a piece of metal can be worked before it fails from fatigue, so too is a given work. Of course then you take what you've learned from last time and your new ideas and apply them to your next piece.


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