Best Practices for Exams in Canvas using Assignments

Create an Online Assignment to allow students to submit files, such as Word documents, through Canvas. 

Setting up your Exam

Adding the assignment prompt 

You can add the question and/or instructions to the text field. If linking a file or embedding an image, it is vital to learn about access controls for files in your exam to ensure students don’t get access to these parts of the exam too soon or too late.

Online Entry Options

When creating the assignment, select File Uploads for the Submission Type. If students are working on a long, typed response, we recommend students upload files. However students must be patient for very large documents; warn them that it might take 5 minutes to upload or give them extra time to upload. Please make students aware they should notify the instructor or TA immediately if they encounter difficulties uploading.  

Four submission type options with File Uploads circled

Student View 

To view the assignment from the student perspective, use Student View

  1. From the Assignments page or Home page
  2. Select Student View in the upper right.
  3. A pink border will appear around the screen indicating you are in Student View. You can use this to verify your assignment is not yet available.
  4. Do not forget to ‘Leave Student View’ via the bar at the bottom of the page.

    Student View bar with button to leave student view

Reviewing and Grading

Download or Read Student Work Online

With Assignments, you have the option to download all files for offline review. You can also view and grade the submissions online using SpeedGrader.

Providing Feedback & Grading Online


Use SpeedGrader to provide feedback on exams and student submissions. Any grades entered in SpeedGrader are automatically added to the Canvas Gradebook. Assignments set up as Manual Post Policy prevent students from viewing grades until you Post Grades. Assignments set up as Automatic Post Policy allow students to view grades immediately. Note: Multiple graders should not enter grades in SpeedGrader at the same time.


You can manually enter and edit grades in the Gradebook.