Instructor Best Practices for creating a Test or Quiz

From EdTech Help

Practical advice about designing Sakai Tests & Quizzes assessments to minimize submission issues.

Best Practices for Designing Tests, Exams and Quizzes

Tests and Quizzes select

Things to Consider

  • Time limits vs. Date and time restrictions
    Considering availability is more intuitive when considering time limits first, then available dates/times and late submission dates (see below). An enforced time limit in Tests and Quizzes with more open availability dates will make an assessment more resilient to unexpected (technological) events.
    Note that due dates overrule time limits. This includes creating exemptions for accommodations.
    Do not set time limits and available dates for the same duration, the quiz will not function as expected.
    This is specifically summarized in Setting Availability Dates and time limits for tests and exams.
  • Maximize autosubmit
    Maximize opportunities for student work to be saved and autosubmitted. It is recommended the default autosbumit be maintained and that a corresponding date be added when needed.
  • Very Little can be adjusted once published
    Once made available, very few modifications can be made to assessments.
  • Practice
    Students should have an opportunity to experience the conditions under which they will be assessed in low-stakes or practice conditions.
  • Communications and Expectations
    It is best to plan and communicate expectations for tests and quizzes to students in advance and this should include how instructors might respond to unexpected events.
  • Communications in the Event of an Interruption Instructors should use available communications tools to update their students about interruptions and potential next steps. Existing MS Teams sites or the Class E-Mail page are available communications tools.

Tips to Minimize Submission Issues

  • The due date is also the last moment a student can start
    Consider allowing late submissions, and how much time a student in this scenario might need. It is often easier for all involved to accept late submissions and choose how to handle them than prevent them technically. Note that due dates always overrule time limits.
  • Late submissions/Autosubmissions
    Late submissions accepted is on by default, but requires a date. This feature can help build in technical flexibility as it is both the last moment a student can submit their work by and when assessments that were abandoned (often unintentionally) or still in progress will be automatically submitted based on the enabling of Autosubmit, which saves student work after the latest acceptance date setting. The Event Log tab will record when an assessment is submitted by the user or the timer.
  • Give Students the opportunity to save work in the settings of the quiz
    Every time a student presses a red button (Previous/Next/Save/Upload and ultimately Submit for Grading) Sakai is saving the state of their work. Sakai also saves students’ work on approximately 15-minute intervals without pressing a button. By maximizing the frequency that students’ work is saved students are better prepared to resume interrupted assessments (e.g. power goes out, unexpected reboot, etc.) and have the most work submitted if they run out of time. Typically, this involves retaining the default one question per page layout for the whole assessment or for parts with questions that can take a long time to respond to.
  • Exceptions to Time Limit and Delivery Date for Accessibility
    When adding exceptions each value left blank inherits the default value as set for the test. When assessments are within tight timelines it is important to ensure that the duration given to students with exceptions fits within existing due dates and it is likely that they will have to be extended. Note exceptions can only be set before the quiz is Active, once Active or complete, there is a different process for allowing students to take a ‘make-up’ test.
  • Practice
    It can take a few tries for students to feel comfortable taking online tests. Both students and instructors may benefit from being introduced to assessment-taking in the online environment slowly, as issues related to user understanding, hardware, and assessment configuration can figure into overall success. For this reason, it might be beneficial to assign online, ungraded “Get to know you” or practice quizzes using Isaak-Sakai’s Tests and Quizzes tool that approximates the configuration and flow of formal assessments for the course. Practice assessments should include the types of questions you will ask on a real assessment e.g., multiple-choice, true/false, short answer/essay, student audio response, file uploads, etc. If you plan to include attached files or images, or LaTeX math in your real test, include these in the practice test as well.
  • Preview an assessment
    Sakai offers Instructors the ability to preview assessments before they are published. Previewing an assessment allows instructors to confirm their assessment’s implementation matches their intentions and can often identify issues with layout, attached media, unnecessarily long decimal places in variables and other issues that are easier identified without all of the assessment composition options.
  • Publishing an assessment
    Once published, very few settings can be adjusted in the quiz. It is similar to publishing a book, it may not be available in stores (ie to students), but making changes is difficult.
  • Issues with questions revealed by student responses
    Sometimes questions are configured incorrectly or only after several students have responded to a question is a flaw in its construction identified. Question issues can also be spotted empirically in the published assessment’s Scores > Item Analysis tab. Issues with questions can often be spotted by looking for those that have a low percentage of students responding correctly or have a negative value for their individual ability to discriminate between students who did well overall versus poorly overall.
    Questions cannot be re-composed after an assessment is published, but the Scores > Questions tab can be used to adjust the mark for all students that received a question with an identified issue.
  • Event Logs and Statistics
    Event logs and statistics can be helpful for instructors to assess who has taken the test, when and how it was submitted.

Tips to Ensure Each Student Receives a Unique Assessment

Test Design

Higher frequency but lower-stakes assessments tend to be less prone to risk within the online environment than traditionally high-stakes midterm and final examination models. Instructors may thus wish to release chapter, weekly, or monthly assessments to provide for small fractions of overall course grading but equating collectively to the fraction allocated to larger assessments. You may want to refer to these resources from the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation: Designing Online Assessments.

Best Practices for Students Taking Tests

Sharing this information with students might assist them with expectations and troubleshooting issues that might arise for them in taking an online test.

  1. Google Chrome or Firefox are our strong recommendations for choices of web browsers to take the quiz. Internet Edge or Explorer will cause issues with saving and submitting. Safari can have issues with images, attachments and video.
  2. Open a new session of Sakai. Do not use sessions that you opened previously during the day. Sessions have timeouts built into them and can have issues with accurate refreshing of content. The best practice is to open a private or incognito session so that there are no issues with saved browsing histories or caches.
  3. Only have one tab open of Sakai. Multiple tabs means that saving is not consistent.
  4. Take the quiz on a desktop or laptop computer. Sakai experiences on mobile devices are less consistent and effective.
  5. Save your quiz frequently but do not select “Submit” until you are satisfied with the quiz as it stands. You can save multiple times but you can only submit once. Saving means if you experience an internet interruption the chances of you being able to log in and continue with the test are higher.
  6. Set aside time to go into the test and complete it as your only task. Multitasking can lead to issues arising with the proper submission of Sakai quizzes because timeouts can occur without warning.
  7. If a test is set for a window of time (e.g. 1 hour time limit) and students have from 7am until 5pm one day to take the test, starting the test at 4:30 means you will only have 30 minutes for the test. Due dates always overrule time limits.

More questions about the Tests and Quizzes tool?

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This page is adapted from an equivalent Sakai Community help article.

The original Sakai Community help article, unedited, is available at