Project Description

3 Tips on Online Assessments and Exams

By Christopher Fulton and Katrine Wong

Set up UMMoodle for a practice test or mock exam.

To ensure students can complete online exams as intended, we suggest conducting mock or trial exams in advance. By conducting trial exams, instructors can find out which quiz settings and quiz questions work best for their exams. In addition, students will benefit from a chance to learn about how to complete online quizzes and assignments. ICTO has a FAQ tutorial “How to attempt and submit answers in Quiz in UMMoodle?” that students should review before an exam. More information on quizzes and online assessments can be found here and here.

Create questions that test what was taught.

We believe it is important to align assessments with a course’s intended learning outcomes and its learning objectives. We found guidance on designing test questions to be practical advice when writing exam questions. In that document, the authors offer advice on writing multiple-choice questions, which include:

  • writing quiz or exam questions after each class,
  • have students suggest multiple-choice questions,
  • or write multiple-choice question or essay questions as a class activity.

To write an effective multiple-choice question, use clear, simple language in the question stem and avoid irrelevant points of difficulty. In the distractors or responses for a question, ensure that all items are mutually exclusive and avoid linguistic ambiguity.

Create engaging questions by including images and media.

Learners arrive at university with a wide range of previous learning experiences and varying background and can find exams stressful and challenging. Drawing on ideas and principles of universal design for learning and assessment, scholars have suggested creating assessments that present information in a variety of ways, including plain text, graphs, images, audio recordings, videos, etc. Providing multiple means of engagement can help engage learners and increase their performance on an assessment. In addition, consider giving learners options on ways to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. This might simply involve creating a variety of types of questions, for example, multiple-choice, cloze, or matching questions with images can be created to provide a variety of engaging questions.

Please let us know if you have tips for online exams that you would like to share by writing to us at

For technical assistance with UMMoodle or IT systems at UM, please contact the ICTO Help Desk at 8822-8600.