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Using Quizzes in Moodle

This page has been updated to reflect the Moodle 3.9 upgrade

***The content on this page will be continually updated.

Last updated: July 20, 2023, 10:17 a.m.

Online quizzes are an efficient way of testing student knowledge and understanding. Because they are automatically graded, they are particularly useful in large classes or in classes where there is no TA. Quizzes can include various types of questions including: multiple choice, true/false, short answer, essay, cloze (fill in the blanks), and more.

Quiz feedback

If set up appropriately, quizzes can also provide students with immediate feedback on their answers.  Instructors have the option to provide specific feedback depending on which answer a student selects.  For example, instructors could add some clarification about commonly confused concepts or refer students to a specific resource or page in the textbook for further review. 

Moodle Quiz also provides data about questions. Instructors can see which questions were most frequently answered incorrectly, but perhaps most valuable: they can see which incorrect answers were most frequently chosen. This data can be used to adjust instruction in the future and make additional resources available.

Tips for creating effective quizzes

  1. Ensure all questions are related to course learning outcomes.
  2. Choose distractors carefully.
  3. When possible and appropriate, design questions that require higher order thinking skills (application, analysis, evaluation) to promote deep understanding rather than simple recall questions.
  4. Add questions in bulk in the AIKEN or GIFT format.
  5. Consider creating a practice quiz for students at the beginning of the course to familiarize them with the tool and prevent any future compatibility issues.

For more tips on developing quizzes in Moodle, refer to the Effective quiz practices Moodle doc page.

Other VIU resources by Liesel Knaack for Writing Effective Test Questions:

Setting up Quizzes

For step-by-step instructions for adding quizzes, refer Concordia's IITS Moodle QUiz documents: Building a Moodle Quiz, Defining a Moodle Quiz, and Reviewing Quiz Attempts in the Concordia Help for Instructors  (Moodle login required). You can also watch the video How to Create and Manage a Quiz in Moodle: Step-by-step InstructionsThis video is for Moodle 3.5.


Tips for Setting up your Quiz in Moodle

The Quiz activity in Moodle has many settings to meet the varied assessment needs of instructors and help save time grading. For example, if you use Quiz for practice and feedback, you may set a longer time frame, give feedback for each question immediately after they’ve answered, and allow multiple attempts. However, if you use Quiz to give graded tests and exams, you will want to set it up very differently.

The following tips are intended to make sure you select the right settings for the purpose of giving formal online tests and exams.

NOTE: If you are new to Moodle Quiz and want to learn how to add a Quiz activity and questions to your Quiz, please consult this Help for Instructors (log in required).

Just like with on-campus exams, you will need to set Open and Close times for your online exam to maximize exam security. Students cannot access the questions before the specified open time or after the defined close time.

The time between Open the quiz and Close the quiz is the period during which students can access the quiz questions.

For a practice session (non-graded or low-stakes), you would set this to be longer (e.g. one or more days) than the Time limit (e.g. an hour or two hours). This is to allow students some flexibility in choosing when to start the quiz. Once they start the quiz, the Time limit applies to each attempt they make. That is, if multiple attempts are allowed, students can make more attempts as long as the quiz is still open.

If you use Quiz to give a formal timed exam with one attempt, it is recommended that you set the time frame between Open and Close to be about 20 - 30 minutes longer than the Time limit. This is to emulate an on-campus exam, which requires students to start the exam at the same time but also provide a little leeway for students who might be late due to extenuating circumstances, such as server overload.

Therefore, if your exam is expected to take 1 hour and the start time is 2PM, set the Open Quiz time to 2 PM and the Close quiz time to 3:15 PM, but set the duration to 60 minutes. This means that students who have trouble logging on and start 1-15 minutes late will still have the full 60 minutes to do the quiz, but not more.

Set quiz open & close times and a reasonable time limit

To set a reasonable time limit, you will need to think about how much time you should allocate to each question or each type of question.

The table below provides a recommended time allotment per question for some common question types.

Question type Average Time
Multiple choice 1 minute
Multiple choice – higher level analysis or evaluation 1 1/2 minutes
True or false 30 seconds
Short answer 2 min
Match 30 seconds per item
Short Essay (Written answer) Use your judgment based on length and complexity of answer required. Minimum: 10 – 20 minutes or more.

Source: Adapted from Writing Effective Quiz Questions , Vancouver Island University

NOTE: You may want to adjust these based on your subject, your students, and the difficulty level of your questions. If you have been given a list of students with disabilities by the Access Centre, provide extended time for these students using the User or Group Override setting in Quiz.

Some issues can arise when students haven’t completed the quiz for their time is up.

  • What if students completed their quiz but did not click the Submit all and finish button before time expires?
  • What if students ran into a technical problem that prevented them from submitting on time?

You can minimize these risks for students by always selecting Open attempts are submitted automatically in the When time expires setting under Timing section of the Quiz Settings.

Configure Quiz to Submit Open Attempts Automatically

NOTE: This won’t prevent students from submitting before the time expires but will ensure all their answers are submitted when time runs out. If not selected, students risk losing grades if they do not click on the submit button within the time limit.

Moodle automatically saves students’ responses when they advance to the next page of a Quiz. If a student’s computer crashes or disconnects from the Internet, all responses on the page they are working on will be lost. With fewer questions per page you minimize the chance of students having to start from scratch when they return to the quiz after their technical problem are resolved. Moreover, if you have many questions that use high definition images, the server might suffer performance issues. On the other hand, if the student has a low-speed Internet or a weaker connection, frequent move from one page to the next takes longer for the student to complete the exam. For all the above reasons, five to ten questions per page is recommended.

If the questions are multiple choice or True/False that can be quickly answered, you can add more questions, whereas pages that have short answer or essay/type questions should fewer.

You can set the number of questions per page in the Layout section of the Quiz Settings.

Set five to ten questions per page

In a paper-based on-campus exam, students are able to skip a question and come back to it later or revise a previously entered answer. In an online environment, you may also want to give them this freedom. You can do so by making sure Free is selected for Navigation method in the Layout section of the Quiz Settings. This is usually the default setting.

NOTE: When the other navigation option Sequential is enabled, a student must progress through the quiz in order and may not return to previous pages nor skip ahead. If you do decide to lock the navigation by selecting Sequential, you should warn your students in the Quiz description that this is the case. Students would normally assume they can go back and forth between the questions.

Enable students to navigate freely between questions

Students will then be able to navigate freely across questions by clicking on the question numbers on the QUIZ NAVIGATION panel.


1) Shuffle answer choices and question order

Moodle Quiz has two shuffle features to increase exam integrity. One feature shuffles the answer choices within individual questions and the other shuffles the order in which questions appear. With these Shuffle settings enabled, two students would be unlikely to see the same order of questions and responses.

Shuffling answer choices within individual questions

Shuffling answer choices only applies to questions that have multiple parts, such as multiple choice or matching questions. To make it work, you will need to enable this in two places. One is in the Question Behavior section of the Quiz Settings. It is a yes/no dropbox under Shuffle within questions.

Shuffle within questions

The other is in the question settings for each individual question. It is a checkbox next to Shuffle the choices? directly above the Answers editing boxes.

Note: The reason why this setting is repeated for each question is that shuffling may create a mess for multiple-choice questions that have answers like "both a and b" or "all/none of the above". Mark this type of questions you have and make sure you go to the editing page for each of these questions and uncheck Shuffle the choices one by one.

Shuffle the choices

Shuffling Questions

Shuffle between questions can be set up in the Editing quiz page, where you add new questions to your Quiz.


  1. On your course page, click the Quiz name. The Quiz summary page will open
  2. On the Quiz summary page, select the Actions menu gear, a drop-down menu will open.
  3. Select Edit quiz from the list.
Screenshot of editing quiz page

4. On the Editing quiz page, select the Shuffle checkbox in the right-hand side.

Select Edit quiz under Quiz Administration.

NOTE: If you have divided your questions into sections, each section will have its own shuffle button. This means questions will only be shuffled within each section (across pages if you have multiple pages in one section). You can leave the shuffle checkbox blank for any section in which the question order needs to be fixed. Otherwise, make sure you tick the shuffle checkbox for each section. It may be appropriate to put questions in sections when you have multiple questions related to a specific image, text, case study, etc.

Tick the shuffle checkbox for each section

Adding random questions

A better way to create multiple versions of the quiz is to use the random question feature in Moodle. If you have a large question bank and can identify sets of questions that test the same content area and learning objectives, you can organize them into different categories in the Question bank. So when you create your exam, you can set Moodle to randomly draw questions from each category. This is done when you add questions to your quiz just like you would normally do with regular questions. Only this time, select a random question from the dropdown menu instead of from question bank.

Adding random questions

Warning: If you use random questions for the first time, try to consult relevant documentation or contact IITS ( to double check if you are doing it correctly. There may be some kinks with how these questions are graded.

Some faculty are concerned about students accessing exam questions after the exam, making it difficult to re-use questions in a subsequent term, so they use the Restrict Access settings or the Hide/Show icon to hide the quiz from students. These actions will indeed make exam questions inaccessible to students, but at the same will also prevent students from seeing their grades.

A better way to do this is to make sure all clickable checkboxes next to The attempt in the Review options section of the Quiz Settings are unchecked. With these disabled, questions will cease to be available to students once they submit their answers. While you are doing this, make sure Marks under After the quiz is closed is selected. Otherwise, students won’t be able to access their grade.

Review options

Note: You will find that some of the checkboxes under Review options are clickable while others are not and different checkboxes appear clickable on different occasions. This is because some quiz settings interact with one another. The screenshot above is what you will see after setting Open and Close date and time,  selecting Deferred feedback for Question behavior and removing all checkmarks for The attempt. These are all recommended settings for using Quiz to give formal online quizzes and tests . Of course, you will also want to set Attempts allowed to be 1 in the Grades section. 

If you have a large set of multiple-choice exam questions, you can write them in a text file and then import the questions into the Moodle Question Bank. There are some formatting requirements, but once you are familiar with the process, you will find it more efficient than building these questions one by one within Moodle.

Adding questions in bulk

Adding questions to your Moodle question bank can be time consuming; however, once entered, questions will be available to the instructor in any course they teach and can be exported and imported to facilitate sharing amongst instructors.

Adding questions in bulk can be a time-saving way to populate quizzes. There are a few ways of adding quiz questions to Moodle in bulk. To add strictly multiple choice questions, the AIKEN format is a very easy way to add questions using a Word processor.  

The GIFT format, also allows for upload in bulk of multiple choice questions, true/false questions, fill in the blank questions and even short answer questions using a Word processor. Additionally, some publishers provide ready-made quizzes in a format compatible with Moodle.

Accommodation tips for Quizzes

When designing assignments, it's important to keep in mind some other principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in order to make it as accessible as possible. When following the principles of UDL, generally there will be less need to make individual accommodations; thus saving you time and effort later. Some basic things you do to make the assignment accessible:

  • do not rely on one single kind of question for your exam. As much a possible, use different question types (e.g. multiple choice, short answer, long answer, etc.)
  • provide everyone with extra time. For example, if you planned a 2-hour exam, give everyone 3 hours and tell them "This is a two-hour exam, but I am giving everyone 3 hours to complete this." This will save you time and effort later in having to accommodate individual students.

There will be cases when you will need to give individual students extra time on quizzes. This is possible through the user override in the Action menu within a quiz. Follow the instructions below to make this accommodation:

1. Turn editing on

2. Click the quiz on the Moodle home page.

2. Click User overrides in the Actions menu on the right-hand side.

the quiz page shows with an arrow pointing to the menu option for user overrride

The user overrise page appears.

3. Click Add user override.

the user overrides page is displayed with the add user override button circled.

The Edit override page appears.

4. In the Override user drop-down, select the student for whom you would like to add the extra time.

5. Adjust the Close Quiz time and/or time limit as required and ensure the Enable boxes have been checked.

6. Double check your information, and click save.

Further resources

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