Creating exams using Brightspace

Brightspace, Instructor Help

Home » Learning Technologies » Brightspace » Creating exams using Brightspace

About this guide

This guide details how to set up a final exam in Brightspace. There are several settings that can affect the testing experience, and we will go into each in detail.

Basic details and questions

When creating a quiz for a high stakes assessment, begin on the main quiz page. This is where you can edit the higher-level and basic quiz setting such as: name, questions, association with a grade item, and description for the quiz.


Start by adding a quiz

  1. Go to Content  in the Navigation bar of your Brightspace course (located underneath the UVic logo).
  2. Choose the module or topic where you would like to place the quiz. 
  3. Click “Upload/Create” and then click “New Quiz” from the drop-down menu. If you use this method of quiz creation, please ensure you check the Optional Advanced Properties section below (i.e., the last section under “Step 1: Properties”).
  4. Give your quiz a descriptive name (e.g., Final Exam) to guide learners to the correct assessment.   

Alternatively, if you wish to quickly add and set up the quiz now and place it in a module later, click on “Course Tools” in the Navigation bar, choose “Quizzes,” and then click “New Quiz”.


Additional steps


As part of an update to the Brightspace platform in July 2021, D2L removed the dedicated Introduction field from the Quiz tool to reduce redundancy. If any quiz previously had text in the Introduction field, on clicking Edit, the text is automatically appended to the Description field. A message appears indicating that these two fields have been merged. Instructors can review the modified quiz description prior to saving the quiz. 


If you utilized this feature in the past, you can now either include the introduction section in the Description field, or you can add a text area at the beginning of the quiz and include a welcome message along with any important instructions for completing the exam. 


In this section, you may want to describe how you will be available if students have questions during the exam. Three examples are provided below (note: if you are using Respondus LockDown browser, students will not be able to leave the exam to ask questions). 


  • Example 1 (for open book or flexibly-timed exam): If you find an exam question to be ambiguous or unclear, email your concerns to me at [email]. I will also be available at [date / times / location] to answer questions about the exam. I will try to respond to all questions during the exam period, but a response cannot be guaranteed. It is important, therefore, that you express any concerns over ambiguities on your exam and continue to answer questions to the best of your ability. 
  • Example 2 (best for timed exams): If you find an exam question to be ambiguous or unclear, I will be available in Zoom [Link] to answer your questions. Please join the session and post your question in private chat. I will respond as soon as possible, but a response cannot be guaranteed. It is important, therefore, that you express any concerns over ambiguities on your exam and continue to answer questions to the best of your ability. 
  • Example 3 (exam using LockDown Browser): If you find an exam question to be ambiguous or unclear, continue to answer questions to the best of your ability. After the exam, express any concerns over ambiguities on your exam by emailing me at [email]. 

Description (optional)

Click “On” – Add any information here you would like students to know about the quiz before it is available to them (e.g., information about what the exam covers, what it is worth, expected duration, what the format is (e.g., open/closed book; question type), what materials are allowed or required, what students can expect). This information will become visible to students once the Quiz has been added to the Content area of your Brightspace course page. 

Note: let students know what materials they can use during the exam. For example, the following guidelines might be giving given for a closed book exam: 

  • Use of the following materials during the exam is not permitted: course readings/textbook, lecture notes, Brightspace material, online searching of subject material/related exam questions, other materials. 
  • Communicating with classmates regarding any aspect of the exam or course once you begin the exam is not permitted. 
  • Posting or sharing the exam content, including exam questions, or your answers both during and after submission is not permitted. 

Also let students know what to do if they find they cannot access the exam: 

  • If you are not able to access the exam, please inform me immediately by email [(email address]). For technical assistance, also contact 250-721-7687 

Quiz questions

Add and edit your questions with the “Create New” drop-down menu on the main quiz page, or use the “Add Existing” drop-down menu to populate your quiz with questions from your Question Library. 

 If creating new questions: 

  • Click “Create New.” 
  • Click New Question. 
  • Choose your question type from the provided list. 
  • Enter question text and answers, as applicable. 
  • Click Save. 

 If adding pre-created questions from the Question Library: 

  • Click “Add Existing.” 
  • Click Browse Question Library. 
  • Use the checkboxes to indicate which questions you’d like included in the quiz. 
  • Click Import. 

 When adding questions to your exam using “Create New”, you can also select Question Pool. This will allow you to add a subset of questions from a larger pool, resulting in a different version of the exam for each student. There is a greater chance that each student will get different questions on their own exam if you have lots of questions you are pulling from compared to the total number of questions on the exam. If you feel you are able to create questions of equivalent difficulty, this can be a simple way to promote academic integrity in all types of exams, but particularly timed exams.

Please note: questions added to a Question Pool must first be created in the Question Library. Please see below for more details. 

Academic Integrity pledge

Consider adding an Academic Integrity Pledge as a mandatory first question at the start of your exam. To make this simple, add our pre-created academic integrity pledge. If you want students to ‘sign’ the pledge by writing their name in response to a short answer bonus question, you can set the answer to a random series of letters so that when it is auto-graded, no student should get the correct answer and be awarded an extra point. You can designate a question as both ‘mandatory’ and ‘bonus’ by selecting the checkbox to the left of the question, clicking More Actions and Toggle Mandatory and Toggle Bonus. 

Question library

We recommend using the Question Library feature in Brightspace if you are hoping to re-use questions for subsequent assessments, or if you are hoping to include a randomized subset of question in a Question Pool. The Question Library allows you to create and categorize questions and create subsets of your exam questions that can be shuffled at random. To access the Question Library, click on Course Tools, then Quizzes, then click on the Question Library tab at the top of the page.  


Once you have completed your question configuration, you can move on to the four panels on the right side of the screen, which control Availability Dates & Conditions, Timing & Display, Attempts & Completion, and Evaluation & Feedback. Please see below.

Availability and conditions

The Availability Dates & Conditions tab is where you can adjust settings related to accessing a quiz, such as:

  • When your quiz will be made available and how long students will have to complete it
  • If there are any actions that need to be completed before a student can access the assessment
  • Special Access for particular students
  • The inclusion of a password to access the quiz

Additional steps

When should students be able to see and start the exam (Availability)

Start Date: This is the date and time when you want students to be able to begin writing the exam.  

  • End Date: Students must begin their exam before this time. Once this time arrives, students are no longer able to enter the exam. Once inside the exam, however, end date doesn’t affect their ability to complete it; the length of time that a student has to complete the exam is affected by the “Set Time Limit” settings within the Timing section.  

Hidden/Visible: Content you create in Brightspace is typically hidden from users by default.    It will not display in the course until you decide. If this visibility slider (located at the bottom of the quiz setup page) is toggled to Hidden, students will not be able to see the quiz exists at all (regardless of any access dates you set) and it won’t show up in their calendar. If the slider is set to Visible, students will be able to see the quiz exists and when it will be available to them. Student will not, however, be able to start the quiz until the start date/time that you set. 

Release conditions

You may choose to specify activities that students must complete before they are able to access the evaluation. This can include completing a survey attempt, submitting another assessment, or visiting certain content on the course Brightspace page. Please note that release conditions should not be used for time-sensitive assessments, as these can often introduce barriers to access for students. 


You are able to set a Password that students will need to enter to access their quiz. This password will need to be communicated to students before the quiz begins – either via a Brightspace announcement, an email, or a Zoom call. 

Note that adding an extra layer of security may increase the likelihood of technical challenges requiring troubleshooting. 

If your exam is unexpectedly asking students for a password, check to make sure this field is empty, delete contents, and save the exam. 

Add special access (accommodations and exam interruptions)

Use this section to grant special access to specific students in the course to allow a longer time limit or different dates/times that they can access the exam. Learn more in our resource How do I give students extra time on a quiz? 

Special Access is frequently used to handle extended time for academic accommodations. Instructors are responsible for setting special access for students who require testing accommodations.

Do not set up ‘Groups’ of students who require special access for academic accommodations because groups are student-facing, meaning students can see which peers are in various groups. 

Important note:

When setting up exam restrictions for a timed or flexibly timed exam, keep in mind that start date, end date, and timing are all important (and interact). 


Example: Timed exam

  • I am running an exam that starts at 10:00 am
  • Students can start the exam until 10:15 am
  • Students will have 1 hour to complete exam

Settings: Start Date – 10:00 am, End Date – 10:15 am, Time Limit – 1 hour


Example: Flexibily timed exam

  • I am running an exam that starts on Monday at 8:00 am and finishes on Friday 5:00 pm
  • Students will have 1 hour to complete the exam

Settings: Start Date – Monday 8:00 am, End Date – Friday 4:00pm, Time Limit – 1 hour

In the case where a student needs to start (or re-start) the exam after the end date has passed, Special Access can be used. In real-time timed exams, this may occur if a student unexpectedly loses access or encounter technical difficulty during an exam (e.g., power loss, browser freezes). In this case, the student would need to be provided with Special Access in order to re-enter after the end date/time has passed. If the student is re-entering to continue an attempt, the student will not receive more time – the timer on their quiz attempt will continue to count down even if they are not in the quiz. If you would like to give your students additional time, you can also create this time allowance using Special Access.

Timing and display

How long should students have to write the exam?

Use Set Time Limit to enable a time limit for students to complete the quiz. Enter the amount of time (in minutes) that students have to complete their exam. Remember that time pressures can increase test anxiety and can negatively affect a student’s ability to focus on what they know about the material. Be as generous as possible when setting a time limit on your exam. 

Important note:

The student has until the end of the time indicated in the End Date to start their exam, but this does not affect the amount of time they have to complete it once inside the exam; the Time Limit and Due Date dictate this. For example, if you set your time limit to 2 hours and the exam ends at 12:00, the student will have until 11:59 to begin plus 2 hours from that point to finish.


Additional steps

Timer settings

Click the Timer Settings button to open timing options. These options include the following: 



In an asynchronous quiz timing setup, the countdown for the time limit you’ve set will begin as soon as the student clicks Start Quiz. We recommend using this setting in the majority of cases, as it allows significantly more flexibility in case of technical difficulty or interruption to the student’s attempt.  



In a synchronous quiz setup, the countdown for the time limit begins for all students as soon as the Start Date for the quiz has passed. We recommend caution when considering this approach, as it can prove difficult to provide extended access to students who encounter technical difficulties, emergency, and other complicating factors.  

Time limit expiry behaviour

When the time limit you have set for your assessment expires, you have the option between three choices: 


Automatically submit the quiz attempt

This will stop the student working at the end of the time limit, and will submit their quiz attempt. We recommends caution with this setting, as the student will no longer be able to re-access the quiz via Special Access once a quiz is “submitted,” the student will no longer be able to re-access the quiz via Special Access. If a student begins a quiz late due to extenuating circumstances, or if they lose access part-way through a quiz’s time window, then their attempt will be registered “as-is,” and they will need to re-take the quiz in its entirety (i.e., there will be no option for them to re-enter the quiz).     

Flag as “exceeded time limit” and allow the learner to continue working

LTSI recommends the use of this setting if an enforced time limit is desired. This will allow the student to continue working, their attempt will register as “in progress” if they leave the quiz. This will allow instructors to provide access to students to finish their work via Special Access, or to submit it manually afterwards on the student’s behalf. This option is best for an open book exam where there are clear guidelines for late submissions (e.g., 5% per day). 


Do nothing: the time limit is not enforced

This is a great option for longer, multi-day assessments, as well as for quizzes that will not be assessed or evaluated as constituents of a final grade.  

Paging (how the exam appears to students)

Brightspace’s Quiz tool gives instructors the option to display question sets differentially, based on preference. The options are: 


All questions displayed together

This will display all quiz questions on one page. This can be a useful setting for exams that involve scaffolding, or questions that build on (or reference) one another.  


One question per page

This will display quiz questions one at a time – students will be required to move to the next page in order to view the next question. Quizzes displayed in this manner may run the risk of missing information, and causing issues paging forward and backward in the quiz. LTSI recommends caution when considering this approach. 

5, 10 questions per page

This will display questions in sets of five or ten, depending on instructor preference.  

Add page break after each section

If the instructor wishes to use sections to group like questions together (e.g., all written response questions in one section, all multiple choice questions in another), this will display these separate sections on separate pages. This is also a good approach for instructors using randomized question pools.  


Shuffle questions and sections within the quiz. Does not cascade to sub-sections

Checking this box will shuffle the questions and sections (if you have them set up) in your exam. Depending on the content of your exam, this can be a simple way to promote academic integrity in all types of exams, but particularly timed exams. 

Display options

Allow hints

If you design a quiz that includes hints, you can turn this setting on so that the hint for each quiz question will appear for students. 


Disable Email, Instant Messages and alerts

If you turn this on, then students cannot access Brightspace Email and Instant Messages during the exam; this means that students cannot contact their instructor for assistance through Brightspace during the exam. Important: If you disable Email, Instant Messages, and alerts for a multi-day exam, or an exam without an end date, students will be significantly impacted and lose access to these functions across all of Brightspace / all courses. 



Click “Manage Header and Footer” – The header/footer is shown to students at the top and/or bottom of every quiz page. Consider adding information about what to do in case of unexpected interruption or technical difficulty. 

  • Example: If you experience an unexpected interruption during the exam, please inform me immediately by email (email address). For technical assistance, also contact 250-721-7687 


Attempts and completion

Attempts and Completion settings control the number of attempts allowed for an assessment using the Quiz tool, as well as the way that the final grade for the assessment is calculated. Click Manage Attempts from the Attempts & Completion drop-down to access these options.


Additional steps

Attempts and grade calculation

Attempts allowed

Decide how many attempts you will allow your students. Students can continue a previous attempt if they disconnect, as long as they resume within the Start Date and End Date of the quiz.    Note: Keep in mind that you can give individual students more than one attempt by using Special Access (see above). You might need to give a student an additional attempt using Special Access if they accidently submit their quiz before they are finished.  

Overall grade calculation

If you give students more than one quiz attempt, you will need to decide how their grade will be calculated.  

Evaluation and feedback

The Evaluation & Feedback tab is where you can adjust settings related to how the quiz should be graded, as well as what students should see upon submitting their quiz attempt. Further customization of quiz results is also possible through this tab – allowing, for example, for correct answers to be displayed to students after a certain date.


Additional steps


Auto-publish attempt results immediately upon completion

If you want the system to grade and display quiz attempts immediately on quiz completion depending on your Quiz Results settings (please see “Step 4: Quiz Results” below), select theauto-publish check box. This means that as soon as a quiz is completed, the system will grade and display the default/additional Quiz Results view for the quiz (e.g., showing the auto-graded attempt score). We usually recommend that you do not check Automatically Publish for a final exam; this ensures that you will have the opportunity to review grades before they are released to students.     


 Synchronize to grade book on publish

Check this box if you want the quiz to send auto-graded attempt scores directly to the gradebook (a grade item must be associated with the quiz). Keep in mind that if you haven’t checked auto-publish (see above), you must publish feedback on attempts on the Grade Quiz page before the quiz will auto-export the grades to the gradebook. If you would like to have manual control of the grade export from the quiz to the gradebook, we recommend you do not check synchronize to grade book. Manually exporting grades ensures that you will have the opportunity to review grades before they are released to students. You can export the grades manually after the quiz has been completed.  


Quiz results

The Quiz Results Displays area is where you can adjust what students can (or can’t see) after they submit their quiz. You will find these settings under “When published, display to learners


Attempt Grade

Check this setting ON if you are delivering an exam that can be entirely auto-graded by Brightspace. Good examples of this include multiple choice and true/false exams. Any short answer, written response, or other complex question types will need to be graded manually, and will not be reflected in the Attempt Grade displayed to students – so grades may be artificially deflated if this setting is turned on.

Description automatically generated additional question display

Use the drop-down menu located below the Attempt Grade checkbox to control what students will see upon submitting their exam. These options include No questions; Incorrect questions only, with correct answers; Incorrect questions only, without correct answers; All questions, with correct answers; and All questions, without correct answers. Please note that you will be able to set additional Quiz Results views to take effect at a later date – LTSI recommends selecting “No questions,” for the initial quiz view, especially if complex question types are being used for the exam.

Customize quiz results displays

You can add additional Quiz Results views if you would like to show more information to students after the assessment has been concluded and graded. For example, you could set a view that shows students questions, statistics, and/or scores on a particular date. Setting up an additional view which shows which questions students got correct/incorrect is a great way to provide automatic feedback on students’ learning. 

You may choose to set an additional Quiz Results view to be released to students on a certain date, and can control the amount of time that this view is available to students if desired.

About this post

This post was last updated:

November 29, 2023

We acknowledge and respect the Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees and Esquimalt) Peoples on whose territory the university stands, and the Lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ Peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.

jQuery(function ($) { //open toggle on button click $('').on('click', function(event){ $('#toggle3.et_pb_toggle_2 .et_pb_toggle_title').click(); }); }); Skip to content