Taking Online Quizzes and Exams in Moodle

Posted October 6th, 2020 at 7:44 pm.

If taking tests is stressful, taking online can be even more so! This article explains how the Quiz activity in Moodle works and some best practices that instructors and students can adopt to ensure the smoothest experience. We’re going to use the word Quiz below, since that is the term Moodle uses, but the content applies to any type of assessment (quiz, test, exam, etc.) created using this activity type.



Understanding Quiz Settings

When you click on the link for a Quiz the first time, you will see any instructions your instructor has provided and information about quiz settings. Read this information carefully and plan ahead!

 

  • Attempts allowed: In Moodle, an “attempt” is the same as “taking” a quiz. Three (3) attempts are allowed in the example above, so you would be able to take the quiz three (3) times. If “attempts allowed” is not listed, there is no limit on the number of times you can take the quiz between the opening and closing dates.
  • This quiz will open on … If listed, you will not be able to attempt the quiz before the listed time.
  • This quiz will close on … If listed, you must complete your final quiz attempt by the listed time. After the deadline, you will not be able to start a new attempt and any answers added to an attempt in progress will be marked late and not graded.
  • Time limit: if listed, indicates the amount of time Moodle gives you for each attempt. In the example pictured above it is 15 minutes, so when you start the quiz, a timer begins counting down from 15 minutes. When it reaches zero, Moodle will finish and submit the quiz if you haven’t already. If no time limit is listed, the quiz does not have a Moodle-enforced time limit; however, you still need to obey any time limits your instructor may have specified in the instructions.
  • Grading method: If the quiz allows multiple attempts, this setting tells you how the final grade will be determined: highest grade (score on best attempt), average grade (mean score of all attempts), last grade (score of for your last attempt),  first grade (score for your first attempt).

How these settings work together: In the example pictured above, you can take the quiz up to three times (attempts allow) before the closing deadline of Oct 6 at 16:25 (or 4:25 pm). Note that dates and times specified in Moodle are for the U.S. Eastern time zone where the Moodle server is located. If you are studying remotely, be sure to convert deadlines to your local time. Each time you take the quiz, you will have 15 minutes to work on it. Since the grading method is “highest grade,” your best score will be recorded as the final grade for this quiz.

For the best results, don’t wait until the last minute to take a quiz. Give yourself time to breathe, get yourself set up, and recover if you lose your Internet connection or experience other technical glitches.

Starting a Quiz Attempt

  1. Before you start a quiz attempt:
    • Be certain you have time to finish without any interruptions. This is especially true for timed quizzes: once the timer starts, you cannot stop it! However, with any online quiz it is best to finish in a single sitting to minimize the chance that you miss questions or lose work.
    • Close any open programs (e.g., music, email, IM apps) and web browser tabs that you do not need for the quiz. These could compete with Moodle for Internet bandwidth, CPU resources, and memory.
    • If your instructor allows or requires you to use certain materials — for example, to refer to a course reading — make sure you have them open and available for reference. Try to avoid opening new windows, tabs or applications during a quiz attempt if you can.
  2. Click Attempt Quiz Now to start taking the quiz.
  3. If the quiz has a time limit, Moodle will warn you that the timer can’t be paused once it starts counting down. Even if you close the window, the timer will continue. Do not click Start Attempt unless you are certain you have enough uninterrupted time to finish!

Quiz Interface

A. Question Number box

This shows the point value of the question and whether an answer has been recorded yet. The Flag question option adds a marker that you and the Teachers in the course will see. You can use it to mark questions you want to review later in the attempt or to mark questions that you want to email your an instructor or TA about.   

B. Quiz Navigation box

Each question in the quiz is represented by a numbered box — blank boxes are unanswered, gray-filled boxes are answered but ungraded, and questions on the current page have a darker border. In the example below, I have answered questions 1 and 2, and I am currently on the page with question 3, which I have not answered.


  • If the quiz settings allow you to jump around in the quiz, these boxes will function as links — click on a number to view the page with that question.
  • Click the Finish attempt … link to end the quiz now and submit your final answers.
  • For timed quizzes, a timer will count down the remaining time allotted for the quiz in h:mm:ss. When this timer reaches 0:00:00, the quiz will automatically be submitted. Note that this timer does not stop if you close the quiz window or navigate away from the quiz.

C. Question Response area

This is where you will enter your answers. In some cases you will select answers by clicking or clicking-and-dragging options. For short answer and essay questions, you will need to enter numbers or text in the boxes provided.

Your responses will not be recorded until you click the Next button to move on to a subsequent page. However, Moodle does autosave responses on an open page once a minute. If autosave fails — for example, because you’ve lost your Internet connection, Moodle will alert you and warn you to note down recent responses before trying to reconnect. Usually, as soon are you reconnect Moodle will autosave anything that wasn’t already saved, but if not you will be able to re-enter it.

D. Page Navigation Buttons

Always use the page navigation buttons or the Quiz Navigation box to navigate through a quiz. DON’T use your web browser’s forward and back buttons — you may lose unrecorded answers that haven’t been autosaved.

  • Click the Next Page button at the bottom of each page to record answers for the questions on the current page and move on.
  • If the quiz settings allow it, you will see a Previous Page button, which you can use to move backward.
  • On the final page, click the Finish Attempt button to end the quiz attempt and submit your answers for scoring.

Dos and Don’ts During a Quiz

For best results:

  • Don’t open other windows or programs while taking the quiz, unless the action is required for the quiz.
  • Don’t click outside of the test window.
  • Do be careful when using a mouse with a scroll wheel: click in a blank area of the quiz screen before scrolling to avoid inadvertently changing question responses.
  • Don’t use your web browser forward and back buttons — use the Next Page and Previous Page buttons or the links in the Quiz Navigation box instead.
  • Don’t worry about losing your work. Moodle autosaves every minute, so even if you accidentally close the window or lose a connection, your answers won’t be lost. When you reopen the quiz, any uncompleted answers should still be there.
  • Do remember that Moodle records timestamped data about your activity in a course, and you and your instructors can see this data. See View Data Moodle Has Collected About You.

Finishing a Quiz

When you click the Finish Attempt button or link, Moodle will show you a Summary of attempt, listed whether an answer was saved, not answered, or incomplete for each question.

Screen shot of Moodle Quiz summary

Check this summary carefully to be sure you’ve answered every question.

  • If there is still time remaining and the quiz hasn’t closed, click Return to Attempt to revisit, complete or change your answers.
  • Otherwise, click Submit all and finish.

Retaking a Quiz

If a quiz allows multiple attempts. when you view the quiz after taking it once you will see a summary of each attempt, and the attempt that will be counted. In the example pictured below, Moodle is using the  attempt with the highest score (a 3.3 out of 10) since the grading method is “highest grade.”

Click on Reattempt Quiz if you want to try again.


Reviewing a Graded/Closed Quiz

Depending on the quiz settings, you may be able to review answers, scores and feedback immediately after attempting the quiz or you may have to wait until the quiz has closed to view some or all of this information.

When you review a quiz attempt all of questions will be shown on a single page. The quiz navigation box will show a summary of right and wrong answers, as show below.

      • Green with white check mark — answered correctly, as questions 1 and 2 in the example shown.
      • Orange with white circle — partially correct as question 3 in the example.
      • Solid gray — still ungraded as question 4; typically essay or short answer questions that require manual grading.
      • Solid red — answered incorrectly, as are questions 5 and 6.
      • Red triangles — indicate questions you flagged, such as 4 above.

In the questions themselves correct answer choices will be green with a check mark next to them and incorrect answer choices will be red with an X next to them.

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