Canvas Spotlight

Converting Paper Tests to Canvas Quizzes

Last updated on October 19, 2021

Tools: Canvas Quizzes

Many instructors new to teaching online count on the assessments traditionally used in a face-to-face course. That could mean uploading or sending tests as a Word document or PDF to students. Students would then need to download that document, complete the assessment, and then reupload it with their answers, which the instructor would then need to take the time to manually grade.

However, Canvas’s Quiz feature can help instructors recreate paper tests right in Canvas. Some quiz question types, such as multiple choice or true/false, can also be graded automatically by Canvas, reducing an instructor’s time spent grading. Not to mention, recreating Word documents or PDF tests as quizzes in Canvas can help protect the integrity of assessments since students will not be able to download a copy, and the instructor has the ability to set time limits, add accommodations for certain students, and use free proctoring strategies that can dissuade academic dishonesty.

Best practices

  • Instead of providing document or PDF versions of tests, create new versions of assessments with Canvas Quizzes.
  • Adjust settings by adding time limits, limiting the number of attempts, and randomizing questions to reduce opportunities for academic dishonesty
  • Use question types that Canvas can grade automatically unless assessments call for question types that need to be manually graded, such as Short Answer or Essay questions.
  • Consider preventing backtracking through test questions to reduce opportunities for academic dishonesty.

Let’s walk through it together

Create a New Quiz

First, set up a “New” Quiz shell in Canvas:

  1. Click Quizzes in the course navigation.
  2. Click + Quiz.
  3. Select the New Quizzes option. 
    • To save your quiz engine selection for this course, check the Remember my choice for this course checkbox.
    • Note: You can reset your quiz engine choice from the Quiz Options menu at any time.
  4. Click the Submit button.
  5. Type the Quiz Title.
  6. Type the Points the quiz is worth.
  7. Select an Assignment Group (or leave in the default group).
  8. Select how the Grade Will Be Displayed (e.g., points, percentage, complete/incomplete, etc.).
  9. Enter Due Dates and Availability Dates.
  10. Click Build.

Add Questions to the Quiz

Second, recreate questions from the paper test in the new quiz shell:

  1. Type Quiz Instructions.
  2. Click the + Button below the quiz instructions box in the middle of the page.
  3. Select a Question Type.
  4. Type a Question Title (e.g., Institutions in the Auraria Campus).
  5. Open the Paper Test Document.
  6. Copy the Question Text from the original test document. 
    • Tip: Highlight the Question in the document and then press Ctrl + C (or Command + C on a Mac) simultaneously on your keyboard.
  7. Paste the question into the Question Stem box in Canvas (e.g., Which of the following institutions are located in the Auraria Campus?).
    • Tip: Click into the Question Stem Box then press Ctrl + V (or Command + V on a Mac) simultaneously on your keyboard.
  8. Copy and paste Answer Choice Text, if relevant to the question type.
    • Tip: Use the same keyboard shortcuts listed in Steps 5a and 6a.
    • Note: You can provide preprogrammed feedback for answer choices by clicking the Message icon to the right of the answer choices or provide generalized feedback by clicking the Message icon at the bottom of the question box.
  9. Adjust Question Points.
  10. Click Done to save the question.
  11. Repeat Steps 1-9 to add more questions.

Publish the Quiz

  1. Click Return
  2. Click the Unpublished Icon on the right side of the quiz title (looks like a circle with a line through it). 
    • Note: The icon will change to a checkmark, meaning the quiz is published. 

Add the Quiz to a Module 

  1. Click Modules on the course navigation menu to the left.
  2. Click the + Icon to the right of the Module title.
  3. Select Assignment from the drop-down menu.
  4. Select the New Quiz.
  5. Click Add Item.
  6. Click and drag on the Eight-Dot Icon to the left of an item’s name to reorder the item in the module, as needed.