Protocol-based formative assessment (PBFA) can be a powerful tool for enhancing learning and diagnosing learning challenges. Yet there is an inherent tension between effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of PBFA. This can be addressed through a variety of strategies: “rationing” PBFA to instances of individual learning difficulties, applying PBFA to all students but in fewer instances, or by engineering greater efficiency into the protocol. Regardless of the strategy adopted, it is taken for granted that PBFA should be maximally integrated with instruction-based formative assessment (IBFA) as an integral component of day-to-day classroom instruction. This article articulates the dilemma as it developed at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) between 1989 and 2015 and the path pursued to overcome it through re-design of PBFA.