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Last Updated: June 30th, 2017

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An exam or quiz is a form of student assessment that measures knowledge, skills, and abilities. Generally, an exam is a culminating assessment that assesses a student over a large period of time and over a range of material. A quiz is generally a frequent and short assessment that can gauge a student’s retention and comprehension of a small amount of information.   A quiz can function throughout a course as an informative feedback device allowing both the instructor and the students to see where they are excelling or need more focus.  In order to effectively create exams and quizzes, it is important to establish and understand the learning objectives that are being measured.  Purposes of exams and quizzes include:

Exams and quiz questions can take several formats including:

  • Multiple Choice: Boston University has a comprehensive website for writing multiple choice exams that require critical thinking.
  • True/False: Provide an opportunity to assess students knowledge of facts.
  • Short Answer: Allow for students to explain their understanding, while still covering a broad range of topics.
  • Fill in the Blank: Measures the student’s ability to recognize key words that are part of an important concept.
  • Matching: Help determine student understanding in regards to how concepts are related. Most commonly used for words and definitions.
  • Essay: Berkeley University of California provides a resource for writing and grading essays.

Application to Regular and Large Enrollment Classes

Exams and quizzes can be a great method of assessment and data collection in regular, large, and online or hybrid courses. There are several benefits to quizzes and exams:

  • Allows for instructor to determine the depth of critical thinking done by students.
  • Determine preparedness of students regarding their understanding of the content.
  • Some can be scored quickly to provide quick feedback to students.
  • While helpful in determining the overall retention and understanding of course material, the reliance on multiple, large exams may not be the best measure of course progression and students benefit from multiple quizzes with lesser point values.

Teaching Methods

Some of the ways that exams and quizzes can be incorporated include:

  • At the end of a class period to determine if students understood content.
  • At the middle and/or end of the course to determine if students have a solid understanding of the course objectives.
  • Having a group exam or quiz where students work together to determine answers based on a section of reading or objectives that each member of the group was responsible for.

Application to Online Courses

Exams and quizzes have the same benefits for online courses as they do for face to face courses.  Several benefits of quizzes are:

  • Allows instructor to determine the depth of critical thinking done by students on a frequent basis throughout the course.
  • Determine preparedness of students regarding their understanding of the content before a final exam is given.
  • Short quizzes can be scored quickly in the learning management system (LMS) to provide quick feedback to students.
  • Exams can be a good determinant of overall course understanding, but if exams will count for more than 50% of the course grade, UF Standards and Markers of Excellence recommend they are proctored.

Getting Started

  • Determine the purpose of the exam.
  • Outline the objectives that will be measured.
  • Decide on a format and delivery method for the exam or quiz

Additional Resources


Articles-Blogs, Wikis, Websites

Accessibility Statement

Keep accessibility in mind as you develop course content and build assignments and assessments. Many online tools are not fully accessible, so it’s important to think about how you will make the assignment accessible if requested. The Disability Resource Center and the UF Accessibility page will guide you in making appropriate accommodations. You can also find out more about accessibility at our toolbox page on Accessibility in the Online Classroom.

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