Making the Transition to Take-Home Exams with Moodle

A comprehensive guide to Moodle Quiz Activity

Promethee Spathis
11 min readJun 7, 2021

Since the beginning of the pandemic, take-home exams have been all the rage in many universities worldwide. Take-home exams present many advantages including the practicality of not requiring students to assemble at the same place and the same time, while waiving the need for proctoring technologies [1, 2, 3, 4].

Learning management systems allow instructors to create online assessments that students can take in the browser of their choice. Online assessments are called Quizzes in Moodle. Quizzes come with a wide variety of settings and question types that allow instructors to create highly customizable auto-graded take-home exams.

In this article, I present how to use the Quiz Activity to create take-home exams in Moodle.

1. Take-Home Exams

Take-home exams are a mix of in-class exams and homework assignments. Unlike in-class exams that require students to assemble at the same time and the same place, students can choose when and where to take a take-home exam. Like homework assignments, take-home exams are unsupervised and open book by nature. Students are free to access any resources such as lecture notes or textbooks. Unlike homework assignments, take-home exams can be restricted in time. Once they start a time-restricted take-home exam, students will have to submit their answers within a specified time.

Because students can take exams in a setting of their choice, take-home exams can reduce stress on students. And because they are open-book, take-home exams are better at assessing more complex learning.

2. Moodle

Moodle as many other learning managing systems allows instructors to design online assessments. In Moodle, online assessments are called quizzes. Quizzes can be used to administer tests, quizzes, or exams.

To create a quiz in Moodle, you first need to add a new Quiz Activity on your course page. You will then be able to add questions to the quiz.

The Quiz Activity comes with a large range of options you can use to customize the layout and the order of the questions. You can also control when the students will have access to the quiz, the time the students will have to complete the quiz, the number of attempts they will have, and whether students will receive a feedback on submission or after the quiz due date.

3. The Quiz Activity

To create an online assessment in Moodle, you first need to create a new Quiz activity. The Quiz Activity offer a wide range of settings. The most common settings for a quiz activity are the following:

  • General: Name and description of the quiz.
  • Timing: Opening/closing dates and completion time of the quiz.
  • Grade: Category under which the grade will be published and number of attempts students are allowed to take.
  • Layout: Number of pages into which the questions will be presented.
  • Question behaviour: Order in which the answers choice will be shown for multi-answer questions.
  • Review options: Feedback students will receive while taking the quiz, upon submitting by the quiz or after the due date of the quiz.

I present below each setting in detail. Then I show how to configure these settings for take-home exams.

3.1 General

General setting: The Name will be used for the link to the assignment on the course page. The Description description of the assignment will be shown on the course page.
  • Name: Put the text for the link that will be shown on the course page and that students will follow to take the quiz.
  • Description: Put the text that describes the quiz. That is the text the students will see after clicking the quiz link and before clicking “Attempt quiz” to start the quiz.
  • Display description on course page: Select this option to display the “Description” text on the course page.

3.2 Timing

Timing setting: The assignment will open and close at the two specified dates. The students will have 105 minutes to complete the assignment. Only the answers logged by Moodle will be automatically submitted if students do not click “Submit all and Finish” before the closing date or expiration of the time limit, whichever comes first

Opening and closing dates: A quiz may be available immediately upon publishing or after the opening date. Students can take and submit the quiz anytime after the opening date or before a closing date, if specified. If no closing date is set the quiz will be available indefinitely.

Time limit: A quiz may be timed or untimed. In the former, you can specify the time limit in minutes, hours, or days. A timer will be shown in the quiz navigation block after starting the quiz. The quiz will close when the time limit expires or at the closing date, whichever comes first. If no time limit is set, students will have an unlimited time to complete the quiz.

When time expires: Students may have the choice to decide whether or not their answers should be submitted or not.

  • If “Open attempts are submitted immediately” is set, all stored answers will be automatically submitted. An answer is stored when students click “Next” to navigate questions on separate pages or once they click “Finish attempt”.
  • If “There is a grace period when open attempts can be submitted, but no more questions can be answered” is set, students can use the grace period to decide whether they want to submit their answers. If yes, they need to click “Submit all and Finish”. Otherwise their attempt will appear as not submitted. Instructors will still be able to review the answers to all attempts, including the not submitted attempts.
  • If “Attempts must be submitted before time expires, or they are not counted”, students must click “Submit all and finish” otherwise none of their answers including the stored ones will be submitted.

Submission grace period: If not set, all stored answers are submitted either automatically or only if students click “Submit all and Finish”. Instead of automatic submission, students can decide to withdraw their current attempt. That may be the case of quizzes with multiple attempts for which the final grade is the average of all attempts grades or the grade of the last attempt. If students think the attempt they just took won’t improve their previous or future attempt(s) they may decide not to submit their answers. The grace period will give students extra time after the quiz due date to decide whether they should click “Submit all and Finish”.

User/group overrides: You can use the “User overrides” or “Group overrides” to change the quiz settings for specific students or group of students. You can add exceptions regarding the opening and closing dates, the time limit, and the number of attempts.

User override setting

3.3 Grade

Grade setting: The grade will be published in the Gradebook under the existing category “Homework Assignment”. Grades under 50.00 will be highlighted in red in the Gradebook, in green otherwise. Student are allowed to take a single attempt

Grades may be posted automatically in the Gradebook if enabled in the “Review options” for the quiz.

  • Grade category: You can select the “Grade category”, if already created in the Gradebook, under which the grades will be posted.
  • Grade to pass: In the Gradebook, the grades will be highlighted in green or red if higher or lower to the value specified in the “Grade to pass”.
  • Attempts allowed: A quiz may be setup to allow for a limited number of attempt. In “Attempts allowed”, you can choose up to 10 attempts. You can also choose “Unlimited” to let the students submit as many times as they like.
  • Grading method: In the case of multiple attempts, you can choose which grade is recorded: The highest, the first, the last, or the average grade.

3.4 Layout

Layout setting: Questions are presented on a single pages or on separate pages, according to the page breaks as added in the “Edit quiz” page. Back and forth navigation between question pages is allowed

A quiz consists of a list of questions. Questions may be displayed on one or multiples pages. In the latter, you can restrict back and forth navigation between the pages. Distributing the questions over multiple pages will also let Moodle save the answers as the students navigate within the quiz.

  • New page: Select the number of questions that will be shown on each page. You can select “Never, all questions on one page” and add page breaks where needed in the ‘Edit quiz’ page.
  • Navigation method: If set to “Free”, students will be able to navigate back and forth between the quiz pages. If set to “Sequential”, students will need to answer the questions in sequence as returning to questions located on previous pages is forbidden.

3.5 Question behavior

Question behaviour setting: Answer choices for multiple choice questions will be randomly shuffled. No feedback will be shown before student submission.

The answer choices may appear in a specific order or a random order each time a student takes an attempt. You can also control when and what feedback students will receive.

  • Shuffle within questions: If set to “Yes”, the answer choices for multiple choice questions will be randomly shuffled; If set to “No”, the answer choices will be presented in the same order for all attempts.
  • How questions behave: You can set the hints and feedback the students will receive as they answer the questions and/or between consecutive attempts.

3.6 Review options

Review options setting: The only feedback students will receive is their grade for the assignment that will be shown after the quiz close date.

Students can have access to various information regarding their attempts. These information include the quiz overall score, the points earned for each question, the correct answers, and some feedback if provided when authoring the quiz. These information can be made available to the students while taking the quiz, after submitting the quiz (for up to two minutes or anytime before the quiz closing date), or after the quiz due date.

Students can review the answers they gave (the attempt), check whether their answers are correct or not (whether correct), the correct answers (right answer), the quiz overall grade and/or the details of the points earned for each question (marks).

Students can also receive a feedback if added to the quiz and/or to the questions during their authoring. “Specific feedback” can be added to each question depending on the student answers. You can also add an “Overall feedback” that will be shown to the students depending on their overall score, whatever their answers are.

3.7 Extra restrictions on attempts

Restrictions on quiz attempts.

You can restrict the access to a quiz by specifying a password, a list of IP addresses, by enforcing a specific time delay between the first and the second attempt and/or between the second and any subsequent attempt. If students use Web browsers with JavaScript-enabled, quiz may be shown in a full-screen popup window covering all other windows which in case of proctored in-class exams, makes it easier to check if students are using documents on their computers or online. The use of copy and paste will also be disabled from or to the quiz popup window.

3.8 Overall feedback

Overall feedback.

The Overall feedback will be shown to the students depending on the grade they received. You can specify different Overall feedback that will be shown to students depending on their grades: Enter a “Grade boundary” as a percentage or the points above which the students will see the text entered in the “Feedback” text area.

3.9 Restrict access

Restrict access setting

As for any other other activity, you can restrict access to a Quiz Activity by setting one or a combination of the following options. In the latter, you will be able to choose whether the students need to fulfill all or at least one of the requirements:

  • Date: Students won’t be able to access the quiz before and/or after a date if specified.
  • Grade: If set, only students who achieved a specific grade in another graded activity will have access to the quiz.
  • User profile: You can select students based on the information available in their Moodle user profile such their address, country, phone number, email address, etc.
  • Restriction set: You can select a combination of all previous restrictions to create different rules that will be applied to different group of students.
  • Group: If you have created groups for your course, you can select the group(s) who will have access to the quiz.

For all these options, you may choose to hide from the students the restrictions in place. A similar result can be obtained by editing the settings available with the link of the Quiz Activity from the course page.

4. The Quiz Settings for Take-Home Exams

You can use the following settings for time-restricted take-home exams. All collapsed options have been left to their default settings.

Quiz Activity settings for time-limited take-home exams.

5. Review Options

In the table below, I present what the student sees after completing an answer for different review options. In this example, the question has the two following subquestions:

Subquestion 1: {1:SA:=Correct answer 1#Correct Answer!~%0%*#Wrong Answer!}

Subquestion 2: {1:SA:=Correct answer 2#Correct Answer!~%0%*#Wrong Answer!}

Question text and output.

For each example, I suppose that a student has answered the first subquestion with the correct answer (e.g., “Correct answer 1”) and the second with the wrong answer (e.g., “Wrong answer 2”).

In the left column, I show the Review options settings and in the right column, the resulting output as seen by the students. These outputs are similar whether the review options are set to ‘During the attempt’, ‘Immediately after the attempt’, ‘Later, while the quiz is still open’, or ‘After the quiz is closed’. The only difference is when the various feedback will be available for review to the students.

The points awarded for the question (e.g., mark), whether the answer is correct or not, the specific feedback for the provided answer, and/or the right answer are shown in a yellow box revealed when passing the mouse over each answer. The general feedback is shown below the question in an orange text box.

List of the review options shown for an embedded-answers question.

5. Final Words

Student assessment through tests, quizzes, or exams is an integral part of the teaching and learning process. It measures to what extend students are successfully meeting course learning objectives. Assessment provides students with feedback to identify their strengths and weaknesses as part of the learning process. Assessment also provides useful feedback to instructors who can adjust their course syllabus and pedagogical approach.

During the pandemic, take-home exams have forced their way into curriculums by replacing traditional in-class exams. They may well become the new normal in the post-COVID-19 area as they give opportunities for regular and frequent assessment. As so, take-home exams will help give more weight to continuous coursework assessment. Take-home exams also allow for effective assessment of complex learning while avoiding the cramming that is common for end-of-term exams.

The Quiz activity in Moodle let instructors design online assessments such as tests, quizzes, and exams. A wide range of settings allow instructors to customize a quiz in numerous ways affecting the number of attempts the students can take and whether the feedback, including the quiz overall grade and the points received for each question, will be shown while taking the quiz, after submission, or after the quiz due date. These settings allow for the design of take-home exams with Moodle.


[1] Bengtsson, L. (2019) Take-home exams in higher education: A systematic review. Educational Sciences, 9(4)

[2] Myyry, L & Joutsenvirta, T. (2015) Open-book, open-web online examinations: Developing examination practices to support university students’ learning and self-efficacy. Active Learning in Higher Education, 16, 2, pp.119–132.

[3] Lopéz, D., Cruz, J.-L., Sánchez, F., & Fernández, A. (2011) A take-home exam to assess professional skills. In Proceedings of the 41st ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, Rapid City, SD, USA, 12–15, October 2011.

[4] Williams, J. and Wong, A. (2009) The efficacy of final examinations: A comparative study of closedbook, invigilated exams and open-book, open-web exams. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(2): 227–236.