Canvas Exam Recommendations & Best Practices

EdTech can support your course in offering online quizzes or exams through Canvas.  These are our Dos and Don'ts for creating a successful online quiz or exam, with sections divided by Administrator and Student, and suggestions specific to remote versus in-classroom exams.  If your question isn't answered below, please contact us or request a consultation.

General Notes

  • Internet connectivity and saving: Exams in the Canvas learning management system are saved automatically as long as there is an internet connection—multiple choice answers are saved as they are entered and essay answers are saved when the student moves on to the next question (or clicks out of the answer's text box). Canvas exams also test for an active internet connection and display a warning to the student to re-connect before continuing if the network connection is lost at any point during an exam. These features safeguard against network failures and browser crashes, eliminating the need for students to keep a hard copy of their quiz answers. 

  • Browser closes/computer crashes: Since answers are automatically saved, if the computer crashes or browser is accidentally closed during an exam attempt, the student will be able to resume the exam where they left off.

    Timed quizzes and exams: If a time limit is set on an exam, and the student is interrupted by a browser, computer, or internet issue, the exam clock will continue to run. The student can re-join the exam until either the allowable time or the available date/time has passed.

For Administrators, All Canvas Exams

  • Do set a time limit and widen the availability start/end dates and times for your exam. Create an equitable exam taking experience by setting a time limit and widen then availability window (>30-60 minutes later than the official end time of the exam). This gives students the same amount of time and freedom to start when they prefer (many choose to start late). Exams auto-submit when the time limit runs out or when the availability window ends, whichever comes first, so the wide availability window ensures everyone’s time limit runs out BEFORE the availability window closes.
  • Do NOT set a due date. Due dates only serve to mark if an exam was submitted on time (late assignments are marked in red in the grade book). They don't cause an auto-submit, so functionally they have no effect on a student's exam-taking experience other than potentially causing confusion.
  • Do extend the time limit for students with accommodations. Once you have published the quiz, click Moderate This Quiz on the right.  Click the pencil/edit icon to the right of the student’s name and enter in the extension as appropriate.
  • Do add a separate availability time if you have students taking an exam at a different time by clicking +Add under Assign.
  • Do instruct students to plug in computers/laptops to AC power. If a computer dies during an exam, the student can re-login and pick up where they left off in the exam. However, if a timer is set on the exam, it's clock continues to countdown, even when a student is inadvertently logged out of the exam.
  • Do suggest use of a recommended browser for browsing Canvas (see below in "For Students").
  • Do include the honor code statement at the start of your exam, either as an Agree/Disagree multiple choice question, or in the assignment introduction.
  • Do use images fewer than 600 pixels wide to prevent horizontal scrolling of the browser, which may cause students to overlook parts of the image.
  • Do check publishing and usage rights settings on images. Within Canvas Files, mark images to be used in exams—and the folders that contain them—as Published or Only available to students with link. Within settings for each image, you must also select the Image Usage Rights. Without these two steps, students will be unable to view these images used in exams.
  • Do check Grades settings for exams.  Hold back scores by muting the exam until all students have completed the exam and you review/grade questions. When editing a quiz, choose the preferred Let Students See Their Quiz Responses option, and in Grades, roll over the column header for the exam, click the three dots and select Hide Grades. This will prevent students from viewing/printing correct answers before everyone is finished.
  • Do display all the questions on one page for your exam, or at least each section on one page. Students appreciate the ability to skim through questions quickly on one page, as opposed to having to view each question on its own page.
  • Do let EdTech know about any students needing special accommodations in advance. Email Canvas Support and we’ll help coordinate individual exam settings, reserving extra rooms and computers, etc.
  • Do consider exam images settings. If using images in an exam, place all those exam image files in one folder in Files.  Mark each of those individual images as Published and set their Usage Rights. For the folder settings, select Restricted Access: Only available to students with link to prevent students from seeing the images prior to the exam.
  • Do NOT worry if changes are not immediately updated. For instance, if you have regraded an exam, it will take a few minutes before the new quiz statistics will display.

For Administrators, In-Classroom Exams Only

  • Do require passwords if your exam is to be given in a classroom. We recommend a password (select Require An Access Code), so students won’t be able to access the exam until they have the password, which you can give in class when you want them to start. 
    • Another alternative to requiring a password is to set the availability start time at the time you want the students to start the exam. This can allow students to take the exam from another location.
  • Do reserve rooms with sufficient seating. For an online exam, students should be seated every other seat. We recommend reserving one or both of the large lecture halls in LKSC (LK120 and LK130) if possible, depending on how many students you have. Make room reservations with MedScheduler.
  • Do reserve backup laptops for 10% of your students. Contact MedScheduler to modify your room reservation if needed.
  • Do secure your high stakes exam by using Respondus Lockdown Browser.

For Administrators, Remote Exams Only

  • Do NOT use LockDown Browser. The use of LockDown Browser shuts down access to other online resources, which is counter to the university's policy of requiring take-home exams to be open book.

For Students, All Canvas Exams

Do use a recommended browser:

  • Chrome 80 and 81
  • Firefox 75 and 76 (Extended Releases are not supported)
  • Edge 80 and 81
  • Safari 12 and 13
  • Do plug in computers/laptops to AC power. If an unplugged computer dies during an exam you can re-login and pick up where you left off in the exam. However, if the exam has a time limit the exam clock will continue to run.
  • Do follow the honor code when taking the exam.
  • Do not use your browser's Back or Forward buttons. This can cause problems with your exam (e.g., automatic submission or answers overwritten, etc.).

For Students, In-Classroom Exams Only

  • If using your own computer, install LockDown Browser before your first exam. LockDown Browser is a secure browser used for taking exams and quizzes in Canvas. Here's how to install LockDown Browser.

For Students, Remote Exams Only

  • Do use your course's Canvas Chat tool for remote support during your exam. Open Canvas Chat in a separate browser window before beginning your exam. Both your course staff and EdTech will be monitoring the chat for any issues during the exam.