Creating, Administering, and Grading a Timed Exam in Canvas


Creating a Timed Exam

Getting Started

To get started, click on the Quizzes link from your course menu and select the +Quiz button.

Determine the Settings

  1. Use the Quiz Instructions textbox to let students know what to expect, including the time allotted, when the exam closes, the materials they are allowed to consult (if any), the number of allowed attempts, and how you want them to communicate about exam issues. Reminding students of the Code of Academic Integrity has also been found to reduce integrity violations.

    For open-ended or long-form responses, encourage students to draft their responses in Word or within Google Docs so that they can regularly save their progress and have a back-up copy if they lose Internet connection.

  2. For the Quiz Type, select Graded Quiz

  3. Choose from among the available options:
    • Shuffle answers (1) will present answer choices in a random order for each student’s exam attempt. Note that this setting does not work well if you include All of the above or None of the above answer choices.
    • Time limit (2) will set the length of the exam for all students, but that can be adjusted for individual students that have an accommodation for additional time.
    • By default, students can only take a quiz or exam one time. If you select Allow Multiple Attempts (3), students can take the exam the number of times that you set. This can be helpful if you expect many students to have technological issues. You can choose to count either the highest score, latest score, or average score of all attempts. If you use question groups, students will see different questions with each attempt.
    • You can determine whether students can see their quiz responses after the exam is submitted by selecting or deselecting Let Students See Their Quiz Responses (4). To minimize the possibility of question and answer sharing, it is recommended that you do not allow students to review the questions and answers until after the exam is graded. By default, students will still see their numerical score for any autograded questions. However, you can also choose to block students from seeing their grade until the scores have been finalized.
    • By default, all questions will be visible to students at once, but you can also have questions appear one at a time (7). With this setting, you also have the option of preventing students from going back to a previous question. However, this setting will not work for students that need to take exams from the mobile app. 
  4. The availability settings control when students can start the exam and when they must finish it. Consider time zones and provide a large enough window that all students can take the exam at a reasonable time. If the exam is timed, students will still be required to complete the exam in the alloted time once they begin the exam. Be clear with students that timed exams will automatically submit when the exam window closes, so students should allow sufficient time.
  5. Click Save to retain your preferred settings.

Add and Organize Questions

To add questions to a Quiz, click Edit and select the Questions tab. 

Click +New Question to create new questions. Canvas includes multiple question formats that can be automatically graded. When you create questions, you can also include automatic feedback based on whether students’ answers are correct or incorrect that students will see when the results are available. 

  • Formula questions are particularly useful for creating unique questions per exam attempt. However, students cannot complete this question type from the Canvas mobile app so this may not be a good option if you know that students in your class must use their phones or tablets.
  • Essay/open-ended questions have to be manually graded. 

Click +Find Questions to add a previously created question.

Click +New Question Group to create a randomized group of questions and/or to randomize what students see from a list of possible questions. Click the plus (+) button to begin adding questions to a question group. Questions can also be dragged and dropped inside the question group. You can use multiple question groups when making a quiz.

You can learn more about Question Groups from the Canvas guide.

Save Your Work

Save each question as you create or edit it and regularly save your progress on the exam as a whole as you create the exam. 

Preview and Publish the Exam

After creating and saving the exam, Preview the exam to see what students will see when they take the quiz, make sure that the correct answers are indicated, and make sure that the exam is working as you intend. It can be helpful to preview the exam in more than one browser, including Chrome and Safari if you have access to them. 

Click the Publish button when you are ready for students to see the exam listed within Canvas. Students will not be able to take the exam until the availability window begins.

Administering a Timed Exam

During the exam period, there are a number of tools in Canvas that can help with administrative and technical issues:

Grading and Providing Feedback

Canvas can autograde many question types. You can review individual students’ attempts, give partial credit, and adjust the overall score for a Quiz in SpeedGrader

In addition to any question-by-question feedback, you can also comment on students’ overall attempts and regrade questions.

To see how the class performed a group, review the Quiz statistics in Canvas.

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