Best Practices for Exams in Canvas using Quizzes

If you and your students have used Canvas Quizzes for homework, you are certain all your students will have access to a computer at the time of the exam, and your exam is mostly multiple choice and short answer, you might consider Canvas Quizzes. Otherwise consider Canvas Assignments for file uploads of docs and other file types or Gradescope for bubble sheets or scanned handwritten work.

What you should know before using Quizzes

  • It is vital to learn more about access controls for files that will be attached or embedded in your quiz to ensure students don’t get access to these parts of the exam too soon or too late.
  • Familiarize yourself with the  Student Guide to Canvas Quizzes for Exams to learn about what their experience will be like.
  • Consider how you will work with students who do not have ready access to a computer, or who have a letter of accommodation from the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). Note that  Gradescope is another option for both multiple choice and handwritten exams.
  • Refer to and distribute the Student Guide to Canvas Quizzes for Exams ahead of time so that students can print it and be ready for situations such as internet disruptions.

Setting up your exam in Quizzes

Quiz instructions

Aside from general instructions and the honor code, be sure to give students a means to contact you if the internet is disrupted and describe a backup plan in your instructions: In the event your internet connection is disrupted for an extended period, see the Student Guide to Canvas Quizzes for Exams.

Quiz options

There are several Quiz Options

Uncheck “Let Students See Their Quiz Responses” or they’ll deduce correct answers on submission.

If you want to give a more flexible time frame for students to submit an exam, but make sure they all have the same time limit for completion, then use the Time Limit feature (indicated in minutes) within the quiz settings. The time limit option has a 5 minute warning.


If you want to set a specific date and time period for all students to take the exam, the best method is to use the Available From and Until fields to set those dates and exact times. The exam will close and auto-submit with a final 10-second warning (if the student has yet to submit, but is still working on it) when the until date and time passes. 


Adding a time limit or completing the Available From and Until fields will also cause the exam to auto submit (whichever time is sooner).  If you want the exam marked late there must also be a due date. 

See the diagram for an overview of the relationship of availability dates with a due date and time limit. 


Allow extra time or multiple quiz attempts for individual students

The Moderate This Quiz page allows you to grant additional time to students who need it for accommodations.  


If you are using a timed exam, you can add extra time for particular students.  As mentioned above, make sure the until time is not too early for students who are granted extra time as the student will be forced to submit at the Until Date even if the student has not used up the full time.

If you’re using Available From and Until dates to limit exam time, you can create a second set of dates for students that need extra time by completing the Assign To fields. Note: Replacing or removing original ‘Assign to’ user(s) or group(s) after students have submitted will remove submissions.

Screenshots of Assign To fields below.


Setting up your questions

On the Questions tab, select the correct question type.  There is no autosave so be sure to click Update Question when done making changes to a question, then click  Save when done making edits to the quiz . Preview your test and click Save and Publish when ready  to release to students.  


Set Grade Posting Policy

By default, the Grade Posting Policy of a course is set to manual, which means grades are not released to students until an instructor or TA selects  Post Grades in the SpeedGrader or Grades tool. However, Instructors can change the Posting Policy. The posting policy of a quiz submission retains what is in effect at the time of submission, not at the time of grading, so it is essential to set the posting policy correctly before releasing the quiz and before students begin submitting the exam. To confirm the Grade Posting Policy for your course, go to the Gradebook, click the Settings (gear) icon to the far right of the page and click the Grade Posting Policy tab. 

If you find you need to change the posting policy from Automatic to Manual for an individual quiz after a student has already submitted, you need to take the additional step of going to the Gradebook, find the assignment, click on the three dots, and select ‘Hide Grades’.

During and after the exam

Allow multiple quiz attempts for individual students

The Moderate This Quiz page allows you to grant additional quiz attempts to students who need it (e.g. if they were unable to attach the right document in time before the exam was autosubmitted)

If students are given an additional attempt after the Until and Due dates have passed, you will need to select the checkbox for “Manually unlock the quiz for the next attempt” to allow the student to retake the quiz while keeping the quiz closed to other students. Please note: when this checkbox is selected, students can retake the exam at any time, without being restricted by a date or time (unless it is a timed quiz).



Use SpeedGrader  to provide feedback on exams and student submissions. Any grades entered in SpeedGrader are automatically added to the Canvas Gradebook. Note: Multiple graders can view but should not enter grades in SpeedGrader at the same time. Learn about how to avoid data loss when grading in the SpeedGrader.

For more ideas about teaching remotely, see