Canvas Spotlight

Grading in Canvas – What Can and Cannot Be Graded in the Canvas Gradebook?

Last updated on May 6, 2024

Note: This is the second section of a four-section Canvas Spotlight on Grading in Canvas. Below is a list of the other sections:

  1. Grading in Canvas
  2. Identify what you can and cannot grade using Canvas Gradebook
  3. Understand how students interact with Gradebook
  4. Set up and customize Canvas Gradebook

You may use a variety of methods to assess your students’ progress throughout the duration of a course. Using the Canvas Gradebook can make grading easier, but knowing what can and can’t be graded in the Gradebook can be confusing. Provided below is a list of what can and can’t be graded using the Canvas Gradebook. 

What can be graded in the Canvas Gradebook?

Quizzes, Tests, and Exams

Canvas quizzes, which can be used for quizzes, tests, or exams, can come in a variety of different formats, including

  • multiple-choice,
  • fill-in-the-blank,
  • true/false, or 
  • essay. 

You can use the Gradebook for any of the types; however, if you have Speedgrader set to grade automatically, students will not see a grade for essay or fill-in-the-blank questions until you grade them manually, which means they will initially see only a partial grade.


By default, Canvas allows students to submit the following types of files for assignments:

  • Portable Document Format (.pdf), 
  • MS Word Doc (.doc/.docx),
  • Apple Pages (.pages),
  • Plain Text (.txt),
  • Rich Text Format (.rtf),
  • OpenDocument (.odt), and
  • Web Page URL (.html).

Note: While you are grading, if you want to make inline comments on the document itself, you will need to restrict the acceptable file formats in the assignment. From the assignment’s Edit window, scroll to Submission Type, verify that it is set to online submissions, and check the box next to File Uploads. Select the option to Restrict File Types and type .doc, .docx, and/or .pdf into the field. Type the extensions with commas, without periods, and without spaces (e.g., doc,docx,pdf). These are the only file types that can be graded inline. To learn more about grading assignments inline, review our spotlight on Using Speedgrader.


When you create a graded discussion in Canvas, the gradebook will automatically create a column for that discussion. To mark a discussion as graded, check the Graded box in the discussion settings. When you grade discussions, you will be able to grade all of each individual student’s or group’s participation in that discussion. You will not be able to grade a student’s original post separately from their response posts within one discussion topic. You can create and conduct either video or text-based discussions.

Attendance (Roll Call)

In Canvas, you can use the integrated app, Roll Call, to take and grade attendance both in-person and in a synchronous online course. When you use Roll Call, a column will automatically appear in the Gradebook called Roll Call Attendance, and the grades will populate as you enter the attendance for each date. To learn how to set up and use roll call, review our tutorial, “Use The Attendance (Roll Call) Tool.”

Manual columns

In some situations, you may want to add a column to the gradebook for an assignment or activity that students will not submit via Canvas. The columns in Gradebook are all associated with assignments, so to add a column to Gradebook, you would want to create an assignment for the course and change the submission type to either No Submission or On Paper. This will create a column in the gradebook that requires no Canvas submission. You can then manually add points to the column directly in Gradebook. This is also a method you can use to add extra credit points in a course. Review our “Give Extra Credit” tutorial to learn more about adding manual columns to give extra credit.

Group projects

Canvas provides the ability to grade group assignments in the gradebook. To learn how to create student groups in Canvas, review our tutorial. You may also want to visit our tutorial to learn how to create group assignments.

What Cannot be Graded in the Canvas Gradebook?

MS Teams Assignments

Canvas cannot grade assignments from outside of the platform. For example, if you have an assignment that students complete synchronously on MS Teams, Canvas does not have access to that assignment. You would need to create a column in the Canvas gradebook (see Manual Columns above) and enter grades into the Gradebook manually.

Viewing a Page or Watching a Video

Grades can only be assigned to assessments. For example, a student cannot be graded on whether they’ve viewed a module or watched a video because Canvas has no way to track that. You can, however, create a graded short quiz or written assignment to assess whether that student has completed an activity. You may also add prerequisites or requirements to your modules that students must meet before they can access a given module. For more details, visit our tutorial on adding prerequisites and requirements to modules.