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Hacking myCourses: Auto-grading open-ended quiz questions

Welcome to our first post in our new series “Hacking myCourses”. We don’t actually mean “hacking” myCourses (as not to raise eyebrows at IT Security)… but rather, how can you “hack” the tools in myCourses to make them do something that isn’t intuitively obvious to do?


You may be in a situation where you want to grade open-ended questions automatically for completion rather than for correctness. Here is a trick you can use to auto-grade open-ended questions such that anything a student enters in the answer box receives full points.

Step One

When creating your Quiz questions, use the Short Answer (SA) question type, NOT Written Response (WR). SA questions are auto-gradable; WR are not.

Step Two

At the top of the page, click on the drop-down menu (downward pointing triangle at the top right corner of the frame) and turn off the new Question Creation Experience.


Step Three

Set your answers as “^” and “$”, and set the evaluation type to Regular Expression. What this does is mark anything entered in the box as full points.

Make sure to increase the number of rows and columns accordingly to make the answer textbox larger. By default, the textbox for a SA question is tiny because it is expecting single words or short phrases that can be automatically graded.

This is what your answer blank section should look like:


You can then preview the quiz and take the quiz in the Student View to ensure that any answer receives full points.

Note that you can change the point value for the question on the Quiz Properties page.

Looking for help on myCourses? Visit the TLS myCourses Tips page; check the index in the Knowledgebase for myCourses, or request a consultation.

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