Adding Activities

6. Quiz

The quiz activity enables a you to create quizzes comprising questions of various types, including multiple choice, matching, short-answer and numerical. A well thought out quiz is ideal for assessment in an open online course which does not have ongoing tutor or teacher support.

You can allow the quiz to be attempted multiple times, with the questions shuffled or randomly selected from the question bank. A time limit may be set.

Each attempt is marked automatically, with the exception of essay questions, and the grade is recorded in the gradebook.

You can choose when and if hints, feedback and correct answers are shown to learners.

Quizzes may be used

  • As course exams
  • As mini tests for reading assignments or at the end of a topic
  • As exam practice using questions from past exams
  • To deliver immediate feedback about performance
  • For self-assessment

When setting up a quiz for your open educational resource, you need to carefully construct all the variables for the question bank.

See the 'Hands-on Moodle Quiz' course for details of how to set up a quiz. Please note, this link takes you to another course on OpenLearn Create - you may like to open it in a new tab by holding the Ctrl key when you click on the link.

General advice when building Moodle quizzes in OpenLearn Create

Writing a quiz

To maximise the use of a quiz to test the understanding of the course materials it is really important to make sure you base the quiz questions on the course content and on the learning outcomes.  If you are not the author of the course materials you need to read the materials before starting to write the quiz.  If you are the author of the course materials, it is good practice to draft quiz questions as you write, then review the questions you’ve drafted (even if they’re very rough and under developed) when you’ve completed writing the content.

Question types

It is usually a good idea to construct a quiz using more than one question type, to provide more variety and challenge for the learner.

The criteria of the quiz can be set to complete all the questions (regardless of whether a pass grade has been achieved) or to achieve a pass grade.  If the completion of a quiz leads to a digital badge, you can use formative and summative quizzes in different ways for the badge.  For example you might have a series of 3 quizzes which the learner needs to complete without a passing grade, followed by an end of course quiz which does require a pass grade.  You can choose to make all four quizzes count for the digital badge or only have the digital badge based on the end of course quiz, if you don’t want their learning journey to be included in the badge criteria.

Selection questions

Multiple choice questions

There is a skill involved in writing good multiple choice questions to provide questions which expose learner misunderstanding of the materials.  Use plausible distractors in questions, especially for multiple choice / multiple responses questions as learner response to the distractors can be used to provide remedial feedback which will help learners overcome their misunderstanding.

You need to offer more options of responses than the number of tries you are offering because if the quiz is set to ‘Interactive with multiple tries’ and you are providing hints, learners will have more than one opportunity to try a question in a quiz attempt and will eventually get the right answer without being fully tested on their understanding of the material. 

You need to provide hints or feedback for every try as well as for the completion of the question.

You can choose to have a penalty for each incorrect try if you wish (for example a deduction of 33.33% of the mark for each incorrect try).  However you also need to think about what the pass grade is for the whole quiz in relation to penalties, as the quiz could quickly become hard to pass if the pass grade is set very high (such as 80%).

You can build random variants of a quiz question so that if the learner attempts the quiz a second time after an unsuccessful first attempt they will get a different version of the same question.  Therefore it is a good idea to have a pool of correct answers and a pool of incorrect answers which the person building the quiz can choose from to use when creating random variant multiple choice questions.

Use OU multiple response question option rather than multiple choice for multiple response questions. The OU multiple response questions option is an improvement on multiple choice in the way it marks the question. This is explained in more detail in Hands-on Moodle Quiz, however you need to enrol on the course to see the information about how it works.

Writing random variant questions

Your quiz could be 5 questions long and if the learner fails their first attempt and reattempts it they will encounter the same 5 questions.  This will make it much easier for them to answer the quiz correctly the second time around, especially if there are not many choices of correct answers or if the quiz has a high proportion of Yes/No questions, which usually makes a very poor quiz.

Random variant questions can be used to make the quiz just as difficult to answer in subsequent attempts as the first attempt.  You can ask exactly the same question but have a different selection of correct and incorrect answers each time the learner re-attempts the quiz.

Write a question and compile a list of correct and incorrect answers to the question.  Incorrect responses can be quite hard to write without being obviously incorrect or silly.  Then select a few correct and a few incorrect answers for each random variant of the question.

For example, you have a total of 10 correct and 8 incorrect responses to your question:

Table 1 correct and incorrect responses for your question

Correct Incorrect
Correct 1
Correct 2
Correct 3
Correct 4
Correct 5
Correct 6
Correct 7
Correct 8
Correct 9
Correct 10  
Incorrect 1
Incorrect 2
Incorrect 3
Incorrect 4
Incorrect 5
Incorrect 6
Incorrect 7
Incorrect 8



For Q1a (the first random variant) select 5 correct and 3 incorrect responses, for Q1b select a different 5 correct and 3 incorrect responses and for Q1c select 5 correct and 3 incorrect responses which are a different combination from the other two options:

Table 2 Question variants

Q1a Q1b Q1c
Correct 1
Correct 2
Correct 3
Correct 4
Correct 5

Incorrect 1  
Incorrect 2
Incorrect 3
Correct 6
Correct 7
Correct 8
Correct 9
Correct 10

Incorrect 4  
Incorrect 5
Incorrect 6
Correct 4
Correct 5
Correct 6
Correct 7
Correct 8

Incorrect 1
Incorrect 7
Incorrect 8

You will need to review the combinations of answers you’ve selected for each random variant version, as some might not work well together and could make the question unexpectedly easy to answer by a process of elimination.  Your incorrect answers need to be good distractors to make the learner really think about the question properly.

Your original quiz could therefore actually be a quiz of 5 questions each of which has some random variant options, it doesn’t have to be the same number of random variants for each question, for example this combination is a total of 14 random variant questions for the 5 actual questions:

Question 1a
Question 1b
Question 1c

Question 2a
Question 2b

Question 3a
Question 3b
Question 3c

Question 4a
Question 4b
Question 4c
Question 4d

Question 5a
Question 5b

Every time the learner attempts the quiz a different random variant for each question will come up, this will result in many combinations of the quiz before they encounter exactly the same set of questions they saw the first, second or third time.  Inevitably they will see some of the same as before after 3 tries.  You can increase the number of combinations of the quiz each time by having 4 random variants for some questions.  You will increase the number of combinations even further if you have more than 5 questions in your quiz.


True / False questions

This type of question is usually only used for one try as the answer will be obvious after the first try.  Filling up your quiz with true / false questions will make a very boring quiz and easy to pass at a second attempt 24 hours later.  One True / False question per 5 questions is probably a better mix.

Select missing words questions

This type of question is used when a long piece of text has missing words which the learner needs to complete.  It is used when there isn’t enough screen space for drag and drop words below the piece of text.  The missing words option uses dropdown lists instead.  This type of question is keyboard accessible using the tab key and up and down keys.

Drag and drop questions

Drag and drop into text is used for dropping missing words into spaces in a piece of text (in pre-defined gaps). 

Drag and drop into an image can be used to label an image. 

Providing additional words in the list of words to drag and drop increases the difficulty for the learner.

Matching questions

The quiz author provides several questions and correct answers.  The computer lays out the questions then shuffles the answers in a dropdown list.  It is worthwhile adding extra answers as distractors to make the question more challenging.

Text questions

In a quiz which is not going to be marked by a human, there is a limit on the type of question available, for example essay questions cannot be used. 

Pattern match questions

Pattern match questions can be used if short free-text learner responses match a response pattern.  It can cope with misspellings, specification of synonyms and alternative phrases, flexible word order and can check on the proximity of words.  The learner response needs to match against any number of response matching patterns – each pattern is compared with the learner response until a match is found so that feedback and marks can be assigned.  So the key to using it is asking questions which can be marked accurately and it is strongly recommended to limit the response to 20 words maximum. 

Pattern match can be used as an alternative to 'drag and drop' or 'select missing words' in a paragraph of text.

Graded quizzes

When setting up the grading of quizzes (if a pass grade is required), you are advised to read the guidance on setting up activity and course completion tracking, badges and statement of participation.