Quiz - create a short answer question

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quiz iconThis entry relates to the Quiz activity.

This question type can be tricky if there is more than a one-word answer (which may have spelling problems!), or variations on the answer. You can avoid this problem by:

  • using wildcards (*) – see information below Steps
  • putting in the question stem (Question text) a proviso such as 'Please separate words with a comma' (if a two-word answer) or other similar guidance
  • anticipating the variations and adding those to the answers with 100% as the correct grade for each variation

It would be a good idea to test this question on several users before you try it with students in the real situation, especially if it is assessed.

You can manually mark a short-answer question to avoid these problems.


  1. Open the quiz and either:
    • Edit the quiz, click on an Add link on the right side of the page, and select + a new question.
    • Open the question bank and click on the Create a new question button

  2. Select Short answer and click Add   

  3. Give the question a Category

  4. Give the question a Category Name (required field)

  5. Enter question text (required field)

  6. Decide on the default mark for the question (required field)
    adding a question - category, question name, question text, default mark

  7. Fill in General feedback (students will see this once they have answered the question)
    general feedback

  8. Select the correct answer and grade
    example answer and grade

  9. Provide feedback for the answer (whether right or wrong)

  10. Click Save changes

Using wildcards

You can use the asterisk character (*) as a wildcard to match any series of characters. For example, use:

 to match any word or phrase starting with ran and ending with ing

If you really do want to match an asterisk then use a backslash like this: 

 If you want one question with the two answers fuel and oxygen, you ought to be able to limit the number of variants by writing:
This would accept "fuel oxygen", "fuel, oxygen", "fuel; oxygen", "fuel and oxygen", "fuel & oxygen" "fuel oxygen", "fuel und oxygen" "fuel&&oxygen". It would even accept "fuel or oxygen", "fuel but not oxygen" "fuel|oxygen" .

Here are some answers and scores for a question "What does a rocket burn?"

  1. oxygen*fuel
     with a score 100% 
  2. *fuel*
     with a score 50%
  3. *oxygen*
     with a score 50%
  4. *air*
     with a score 40% 
  5. * 
     with a score of 0%

The order of the answers is important. The answers are evaluated from 1st to last. When a match is found the process stops. If no match is found, the question is scored wrong and the general response is used. It is a good practice to put a wildcard as the last answer so the evaluation process knows what to do when nothing above it matches.

If any answer is the right answer (eg a non-graded open-ended quiz), you could have as the only answer * (worth 100%). This means all answers are acceptable. Make the question worth 0, and if you make the quiz non-graded (i.e. worth 0) it will not appear in the Gradebook. 

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