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Conducting a timed take-home exam


This article explains how to conduct a take-home exam in Canvas which the students can take at any point during a certain period, with an optional limit on the amount of time they are allowed before they must submit a Word file or similar document containing their work. 

The Courseware Team can assist with setup if you like, but please provide a minimum of 1 week advance notice before the beginning of your exam. Below you'll see the steps we normally use, which can be followed by any teacher or TA.

Quiz with File Upload question

Canvas Quizzes have a question type which allows a file attachment as an answer. Using a Quiz also lets you set a deadline and time limit; for added security, other access restriction tools such as a special password (one you tell students separately) can be added. Finally, with Quizzes you can monitor each student's progress and grant extra time or attempts.

You can show your exam questions within the quiz question or you can have the students download a document containing the exam. To do the latter:

  • Create your exam document. PDF is the best format for this purpose. When Word files are used and it's time to submit work, it's too easy for students to confuse the empty downloaded version of the exam with the saved version containing their answers.
  • To store this exam file, create a new folder in Canvas Files and edit the file permissions, using the option: "Restricted Access --> Only available to students with link. Not visible in student files."
  • Upload your exam document into the restricted folder you just created.
  • Create or edit your quiz, including one file upload question for collecting a student's answers.
  • Link your exam document either from a Text question or from the File Upload Question details.
  • To prevent students from accessing the document too early, make sure you use the Quiz availability dates. To completely close the exam, you must use the "Until" date.  If you only use the "Due Date," students will be able to submit after the exam is due - the exam will simply be marked late.
  • To restrict the amount of time they have to work on the exam, use a "Time Limit" in Quiz settings.  Recommendation: Provide an extra 5 minutes for students to perform the task of saving their document, uploading it to the Quiz's file upload question, and submitting.
  • To monitor progress and to allow extra time or attempts to individual students, use the Moderate Quiz screen.

NOTE: File upload quiz questions do not work in IE10 or lower for Windows, nor in Safari 7 or lower for Mac. These browsers also do not meet the general system requirements for Canvas.

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