Teaching Ideas based upon Assessment for Learning Techniques
Teaching Ideas based upon Assessment for Learning Techniques
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Hinge Point Questions: Assessment for purpose

Decide where you are going to take the lesson? Decisions? Decisons?

As the name of the hinge point question indicates, it is a question with answers which can take the lesson in at least two different directions. The directions of the lesson are therefore dependent upon the teachers’ assessment of the students’ understanding.

For a direction to be determined, a hinge point question must be based on a concept in a lesson that is important for students to understand before the teacher moves on in the lesson.

By assessing for this purpose, a teacher can make a striking impact on learning by delivering tailored teaching to each individual student.

In the “Outstanding Lesson Framework” the question is after the teaching episode and meant to assess the skills which are to be practiced in the differentiated tasks.

This allows the teacher to give out differentiated activities/roles as well as help students who don’t clearly understand the learning in the lesson.


The characteristics of a good Hinge Point question are:

  • There can be more than one question
  • A hinge point question falls at the very latest half way through a lesson, depending on the independent nature of your lesson it may come earlier
  • It should takes no longer than a minute to ask
  • It takes no longer than two minutes for students to respond
  • The answers must be easily interpreted by the teacher within 30 seconds
  • All students can respond to it simultaneously
  • Questions are designed so it is very difficult to guess, this means the students get the answer right for the right reason
  • Make the questions so that in the end not everyone gets it right, if you don’t do that you can’t separate out the students and deliver the wright work or help

This is the class teacher’s opportunity to see where everybody is in the class at a snapshot in time and use this information to give out activities tailored to their individual needs and talents. In an outstanding lesson the assessment is throughout but here is the chance to make sure the children know what they are doing. It can also help you deliver why they are doing it and allow you to give them the next step in their learning.

The common challenge amongst teachers when it comes to hinge point questions is the following:

  • It is initially challenging writing them so that the students can’t guess the answer but the good news is that this gets easier with time and practice
  • Stopping the students copying each other

There are many ways of doing a hinge point question so make sure you vary your assessment technique all the time. An outstanding teacher keeps students interested and varying what you do and how you do it keeps students engaged. Assessment is no different to the rest of the lesson. Vary it as often as you can and use the resources in your AfL Box.