Moodle 1.9 Testing and Assessment: Multiple Choice Quizzes

Jason Myrick

December 2010


Moodle 1.9 Testing and Assessment

Moodle 1.9 Testing and Assessment

Develop and evaluate quizzes and tests using Moodle modules

  • Create and evaluate interesting and interactive tests using a variety of Moodle modules
  • Create simple vocabulary or flash card tests and complex tests by setting up a Lesson module
  • Motivate your students to excel through feedback and by keeping their grades online
  • A well-structured practical guide packed with illustrative examples and screenshots


        Read more about this book      

(For more resources on Moodle 1.9, see here.)

Getting started

We need to get to the Question bank and Question Editing pages. One quick way to do this is through the Course Admin Menu. There is a link titled Questions, which will bring you to the correct place.

The first thing we need to do is name the quiz. We are going to call this one Multiple Choice Quiz. For the introduction, we are just going to write the purpose of this quiz to teach you a few things about this item type. Once we click on the Save and Display button, we will see the Question bank.

Notice the questions from the True/False quiz? They are there because the category they are associated with is Course. If I want to get rid of them so that they don't interfere with anything new I am doing, I have a few options.

Categories and contexts

There are four default categories: System, Miscellaneous, Course, and Activity. The categories act like folders or directories, allowing the questions to be accessed at different levels or hierarchies. They are set up in what are known as contexts. Each context has its own question hierarchies, with the highest context being the Core System, moving down to Course Category, Course, and Activity. What this means is that you can select the context in which you can share your questions. By selecting the System option from the menu, any questions that have been created at this level will be available in all courses and for any quiz you have created on the site.

Miscellaneous/Course Category

The next level below System to store questions is Miscellaneous, like the Course Category. This category is where all the courses you are enrolled in are found.

The questions placed in this context are available to all courses and activities in the Course Category.


This is where questions directly related to the course the quiz is being made for are stored.

Course is the default, and most Moodle users find this is a good place for their questions. Placing the items here allows you to create items specific to the course, based on exactly what was covered. It will also only use the questions developed in the course to draw on for random questions. You can also make a subcategory for questions you'd like to draw from. As long as questions are in one category, they can end up in a quiz that randomly draws questions from that category. Creating subcategories for different units in the course makes it easy to keep track of exactly which questions were used. It also helps in organization and administration of courses

The drawback is that the questions are only able to be used in the course. So, looking at the previous graph, the Question bank in Course B would not be able to use anything from Course A. This does not mean we can't ever use them again; we will just need to export them to wherever we want to use them. We'll look at this activity later.


Creating items in the quiz Activity itself is also possible. This means that questions being created will only be available for the specific test being made.

The benefit to this is that you are assured that the questions are not available anywhere else, so, for example, if you want your test's questions to be completely isolated and unable to be used as random items in other formative or summative tests, this area would be a good place to place all the items.

The only real drawback is that the questions you spent all that time working on are limited to a single activity, a single exam.

I don't have the space here to go into how to use categories and contexts, but it isn't too hard to figure out. For a detailed and complete overview of how to create and use categories or contexts, check out these links Question_categories/ and

Multiple Choice item creation page

Since composing Multiple Choice items is nearly the same as creating True/False questions, we are going to be working on a few of them now. Once we have the hang of making them, we will look at a few options that we didn't use in the previous test and see how they work.

Returning to the Question bank, I go to the Create New Question drop-down and select Multiple Choice. Make sure you have the appropriate category selected.

When the Adding a Multiple Choice question page opens, you will notice that it looks very similar to the True/False question page. That's because it is. There are a few new options available here, but the page looks basically the same.

In the top section of the page, General, all the same information from True/False, such as item name and description are there. There are also three new options directly under the General feedback> text area.

One or multiple answers

This drop-down option has only two choices. It enables us to either accept only a single response or more than one answer as a response. The two options in the drop-down menu are called One answer only and Multiple answers allowed.

Shuffle the choices

This option takes the possible responses and randomly orders them. This is useful for reducing cheating, and also allows each student to be given a slightly different version of the test.

This option will shuffle only if the Shuffle options for the quiz and the question are both turned on. The default is to shuffle or not based on the settings for the quiz module the Moodle administrator has set. These defaults can be overridden in the Quiz settings or here.

Number the choices

This section allows you to decide on how you want to mark the responses. You have four options: lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, or nothing.

From here, we scroll down the page and we will see that we are offered five sections, called Choice 1, Choice 2, and others for entering the answers. These choices can be seen in the next screenshot:

Here, we can enter our potential answers, the grade students will get for choosing the particular potential answer, and some feedback based on their response. Under the five answer sections, you have the option to create more choices using a button titled Blanks for 3 More Choices. Clicking on this button will create Choices 6 to 8.

There is no way to get rid of Choices, but it is possible to have fewer responses. If we only want to have three responses available, then all we need to do is fill in the three choices we want.

At the bottom of the page, we see the three feedback boxes: one is for correct responses, one for partially correct responses, and the final one for incorrect responses. As for choices, these can be filled or left empty.

        Read more about this book      

(For more resources on Moodle 1.9, see here.)

Making a single response item

Now that we have looked over all the options for making a Multiple Choice item in Quiz, lets make one!

Step 1

In the Question bank for our quiz, as we've called it Multiple Choice Quiz, go to the Create new question drop-down and select Multiple Choice.

Step 2

We should be looking at the Adding a Multiple Choice question page. At the top, we need to make sure our Category is set to Activity, so we can keep all our questions separate from other areas.

We also need to create a name, the question text, give some general feedback <if we want>, and decide on grades, numbering, shuffling, and the number of answers.

I have decided to ask a question about French history with four response options, one correct answer, and numbered: a, b, c, d. I also want to give some General feedback. Here is what this part looks like.

The grade for the correct response should be set to 100 percent. This will give the student full points if it is answered correctly. The other options should be given as None, since they are all incorrect and are worth no points. Here are the first two question choices.

The final part of the page is the Overall Feedback section located at the bottom of the page seen here.

Once everything is completed, click on the Save changes button to create the question.

The category this question will be placed in is set to Activity,. I have created a name for the question and the question text has been entered. I have entered the possible responses, selected the correct answer by giving it a 100 percent grade, and set the numbering. I have also added some general feedback that all students will see, as well as added specific feedback depending on how the student answers the question.

Now, all we need to do is click on the Save changes button and the question will be created, added to the Question bank, and ready to use. To preview the question, click on the magnifying glass icon next to the question name. This is what our first multiple choice question looks like when created.

It looks pretty good, right? Do you notice anything about the item? The responses have been shuffled. Each time we look at or take the test the responses will be shown in a random order.

Now that we have the question created and ready to use, we need to make sure there are no spelling or content errors. This is all correct, so now I want to go and check to make sure the feedback and scoring are working properly. I'll just preview the test and answer each to make sure of this.

I'm going to turn off the Shuffle option, and go through each response to make sure everything looks like I want it to and is correct.

Making a multiple-answer item

Now, let's say we want to have an item that has a two-part answer, or two answers that are both required to answer the question. If this is the case, we need to create a multiple-response item. To do this, we follow the same basic pattern as we did in the basic, single-response item.

Step 1

First, we need to create a new multiple-choice question. Once this is done, we need to enter in all the same information as in the single response: question name, question text, and others.

The difference in this question is that, in the One or Multiple answers drop-down menu, I will select Multiple answers allowed instead of One answer only. Just so we can see how a different numbering system looks, this time I will use: 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on.


If you are making a test, it is best to go with a single numbering system. If you are pulling in questions from multiple categories, simply go through and renumber everything so that they all match. If you don't keep everything the same, the students might get distracted by formatting, something we don't want to happen.

Now, I have created a new question, filled in all the general question information, written the question text, and given general feedback.

There are two new things that we need to look at before moving on.


When giving a grade in multiple-response items, you need to first determine how much each response is worth. You may base the percent you assign to the responses on several factors. For a question that requires two responses, those responses both being equally correct and required, a 50 percent grade for each correct selection would seem appropriate.

To select the score, I go to the Grade drop-down directly under the Answer text box, and select the score we want, in this case, we will select 50 percent for both correct responses. The grades available are preset, so you can only work within these bounds. However, the selections are varied and should cover all needs.

You are also able to take points away for mistakes. The grading scale goes down to a score of 100 percent, using an identical scale as the positive percentages.

If you select Multiple answers allowed, students can select all the responses they want. Note that Moodle does not give any hint as to how many options should be selected. There is no way to limit them to two or three choices. So, for example, if you have four possible responses in your question, students are able to select all of them and get a perfect score unless you take away points for incorrect responses.

In our question, I will be giving 50 percent for both correct answers and 50 percent for both incorrect answers. So, if the students make two selections and get both correct, they will receive a score of 100 percent. If they get select two answers and one is correct and the other is wrong, they will receive a score of 50 percent. If they choose two wrong answers, they will receive a 0 percent. It is not possible to give students negative scores for a question.

Now, some students might select three or four options. This is one reason to offer partial points for correct responses. For example, 50 percent for correct responses and -25 percent for incorrect ones. This would give the students a 25 percent if they answered one correct and one incorrect and 50 percent for selecting everything.

You can also select NONE from the Grade drop-down menu. If it is selected, you you do not want to penalize students for incorrect responses, this is the way to do it.

Partially correct feedback

There is another feedback category that we haven't looked at yet called For any partially correct response. Here, we are able to give some feedback to students if they were only able to answer part of the question. Partial here means any score greater than 0 percent but less than 100 percent. This category can be useful to help direct the students to find the rest of the answer or show them where they made their mistakes.

Step 1

Now we need to go to the next section, Choice 1. As in the single-response multiple-choice questions, here is where we determine responses, grades, and item feedback.

First, we need to fill in a response to the question. The response can be as long or short as you like. Then we need to determine how much each response is going to be worth. Go to the Grade drop-down menu and select the percentage total for each of the responses. The default setting is None, and you may leave it like this if you like.

Step 2

Repeat Step 1 until you have all the responses you want. Remember, if you want to have only three options, you simply leave the answer area blank. In addition, if you want more response options, you can add more using the Blanks for three more choice buttons.

Step 3

Review the questions, answers, and make sure you have given every correct response a score.

Step 4

Preview the question. Look at the formatting to make sure it looks and works as it should. You should also make sure that the correct responses give the results you want.


I've decided to create a question on the Japanese language. I want to confirm that my students are able to recognize two of the three scripts used in Japanese. I've created my question and responses following the steps mentioned previously. The result is shown in the next screenshot:

Looking at the previous screenshot, you can see that it looks almost identical to the single-answer multiple-choice question. The difference is that the radio buttons have become checkboxes, which allow us to select multiple answers.

That's how you make a multi-response question. Now, we will answer the question by clicking on the checkboxes and see the results.

As you can see, we got one response correct and one wrong. We gave 50 percent for correct responses and -50 percent for incorrect responses, so my score is 0 percent. The scoring we entered is working properly.

The feedback I gave is located directly under choice 4. It is all spelled correctly, and looks the way I want it to. So, we can say sayonara to this part for now and move on to adding extras to multiple-choice questions.

Question design and formatting

So far, all we have done with our multiple-choice questions has been to create simple text questions. There is a lot more that we can do, and that is what we are going to learn about now. You will see the formatting and other options available in the rich-text editor in the next screenshot:


Basic text formatting

Looking at the previous image, you can see the basic features present in most word processors. You are able to use a variety of fonts, font sizes, headings, and languages. You are able to bold, italicize, underline, and strikethrough. You can align the text, add bullets and numbers, undo and redo, and use subscripts and superscripts. You can alter the background color and the color of the font, add tables, emoticons, anchors, special characters, and make the editor itself larger. You can even type in HTML code if you like. All these options are available in a standard word processor and are things you can use to help highlight important points in your tests, as well as make them easier to interact with.

Additional Fonts

If you want to use a font that is not already installed in the Moodle Text Editor, you can. It is a simple process, but you will need to ask your system administrator to do it for you, because it is a system-level change. You will also need to make sure the font is usable in your browser, or you won't be able to work with the font. As a teacher, it is probably better to focus more on content than fonts, but the option is available if you want it.


In this article we explored the Quiz module, developing multiple choice questions

We also took a look at categories, which are useful. They are there to help keep you and all your questions organized. Use them!

In the next article we will take a look at some more advanced options available in Quiz.

Further resources on this subject:

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Moodle 1.9 Testing and Assessment

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