Can I Give a Time-Limited Exam Online?

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Today’s post is the first entry in our new “Ask the CAT” column. Readers can submit questions related to remote teaching and a member of the CAT will answer them publicly.


Dear Tabby, 

I need to go from in-class, closed-book exams to “at home” open-book exams. Is it possible to have students take a time-limited, asynchronous essay exam? i.e., they can start the exam when it is convenient for them but as soon as they start the exam they have 75 minutes to finish. Also need to accommodate those students with extra time of course. Thanks!

-Curious About Digital Exams


Hello Curious,

You are asking about three different features of a quiz developed in one of our LMS’s: first, can it have a time limit? Yes! Next, can I make a quiz without a specific due date? Yes! Third, can I adjust the time allotted for specific students? Yes!

Before I walk you through the steps, can we talk pedagogy? You did ask your question to the Center for the Advancement of Teaching—You can’t expect me to just do a walk-through of the tech!

It’s great to hear you considering your students with academic accommodations as you adjust your assessment plan. In addition, your decision to remove the exam’s deadline makes it more flexible to your students in their new, varying, and sometimes-challenging learning environments.

What do you say to extending that thinking a little further? Why 75 minutes? I suspect that it is not important to your learning goals that they can collect their thoughts on the essay questions within 75 minutes! If I’d have to wager a guess, you are adopting the time-limit that existed in your face-to-face class, which was driven by the meeting time of the class. That, and we know an exam with no restrictions or limitations can be very stressful to students and to grading.

Since this natural restriction (class-time) is no longer a factor, are there restrictions that could accomplish your goals while minimizing stress and anxiety for all your students? For example, you could extend the time allotted so that all students have more than enough time to complete their submission. Alternatively, you could limit responses by length rather than time. Something to consider…

On to your particular questions! Here’s how you would accomplish your goal in a quiz designed through Classic Quizzes on Canvas. (If you are a Sakai user reading this, get in-touch. We can help you, too.)

  • Yes, you can create an essay exam in Canvas that has a time limit. It will be an option on the page where you provide the details for your quiz. Enter the restriction in the option labeled as #2 below.

canvas tests and quizzes menu screenshot

  • Yes, you can make a quiz with no due date. On the same page, you would use the “assign” box to make the exam available to the students indefinitely. Here’s a link to what that box looks like. You would leave field #2 empty. You would put the date you’d like the exam to be made available to students in field #3. From that date on, the students can take the exam. Finally, you can leave field #4 empty or put the last day of class for the semester.

screenshot of quiz menu

  • Yes, you can adjust the time allotted for specific students. This feature is added a little down the line from the other two. After you “publish” the quiz, you will see it in a list of all quizzes for the course. (It could be a list of one). To the right of that list, you’ll see a box with the option “moderate this quiz.”

screenshot of menu in canvas

After you select it, you can select a specific student from the list of students and choose the pencil icon (which means “edit.”)

screenshot of canvas menu

In the box “Extra time on every attempt,” add the time in minutes that you want to be added to the original allotted time.

And there you have it!

 

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