In this type of assessment, students' abilities to perform hands-on activities are tested. An example of such an activity is performing a certain lab experiment, including setup, handling equipment, implementation and subsequent analysis in an authentic environment (in this example in the lab). Practical skills tests can often be followed up by an oral explanation of the steps involved. Here deeper understanding can be tested. Practical skills tests can be carried out individually or in groups.
In more traditional written exams, students write about topics in the curriculum. In practical assessments the focus is more on technical or practical competences - doing something. For this reason a practical assessment can often be authentic because it directly tests competences students need in their future work life. The challenge, however, is to create a meaningful practical skills test which can be carried out within a limited time frame. A solution is practical assessment as continuous assessment or portfolio assessment.