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Assignments & Tests

Best practices and links to resources related to a variety of assignment types and tests

Suggestions for Test Settings

For assessments built in Canvas, follow these suggestions for test design:


  • Give students a window of 24 to 48 hours to take the test.
  • Within that window, give a time limit. A rule of thumb is 1 minute per selected-response question. For short essays, you may want to go with 5 minutes for each 100 words; for more in-depth essays, allow about 10 minutes per 100 words.
  • Let students know in the instructions that they must begin the assessment with enough time to complete the test before its deadline.

Delivery Options to Help Curb Cheating

Options for High-Stakes Exams

  • Require students to use Respondus LockDown Browser. It prevents students from opening a new browser window (such as Google or Wikipedia), taking screenshots, etc.
  • For ultra high-stakes assessments, require students to use Respondus LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor. The latter provides for webcam monitoring.

For further information, visit the Quizzes section of the Canvas Instructor Guide.

Suggestions for Test Directions

Giving students information about what to expect in an exam can ultimately save you time. The more students know about the test, the fewer questions they'll need to ask of you.

Information About the Test Settings to Include in Directions

  • The number and type of questions and their points possible
    • Example: 30 multiple-choice worth 2 points each, 2 short-answer worth 10 points each, and 1 essay worth 20 points
  • The window of time when the exam will be open
    • Example: The test will open at 6 p.m. Mountain Time on Friday and close at 6 p.m. MT on Saturday.
  • The length of time in which the test must be completed, with a note about the deadline
    • Example: Once you begin the test, you will have 1 hour to complete it. This means you should begin the test no later than 5 p.m. MT on Saturday.
  • Whether the use of books or notes is acceptable
    • Example: You will be able to use your textbook and study guide, but you will not have time to look up every answer.
  • If multiple attempts are allowed, how many and what grade will count
    • Example: You will see your score after you submit the test, although you will not see the correct answers. If you are dissatisfied with your score, you may make one additional attempt. Canvas will keep the highest score.

Information About the Testing Experience to Include in Directions

  • Whether wireless or mobile devices may be used
    • Example: I recommend that you use a wired desktop or laptop to complete the assessment; wireless or mobile connections can be more susceptible to interrupted service. If you do experience a disconnection and cannot resume the assessment, send me an email immediately. I will reset your assessment within 12 hours, but your first attempt will be deleted. If you simply leave a timed assessment, the timer will keep running and Canvas will autosubmit the assessment when time runs out.
  • A reminder to treat the test with integrity
    • Example: As noted in the University Syllabus Addendum, academic integrity "is fundamental to the principles of the Judeo-Christian tradition and is consistent with the nature and culture of Northwest Nazarene University." Further, integrity is consistent with the very nature of God, so please resist the urge to cheat! While grading exams, I may check the Canvas activity report, which gives specifics on your clicks.  If I have reason to believe you have been dishonest, I will follow up with you per the academic integrity policy.
  • How to receive an accommodation
    • Example: If you need an accommodation such as extra time due to a disability, you must provide documentation. NNU's Center for Academic Success and Advising provides Disability Support. I encourage you to contact the CASA office (208-467-8463 or at the beginning of the semester so that NNU can provide you the best environment for success. 
  • How to receive help

Contact Us

Center for Instructional Design and Technology • • 208.467.8034 • Learning Commons 146