Best Practices for Using Essay Questions in New Quizzes

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Canvas New Quizzes have many features that are helpful for administering assessments, but there are some quirks to how this tool works. Today, we’re going to look at some best practices that’ll make working with essay questions easier in New Quizzes.  

Make note of which New Quizzes contain essays or other manually-graded questions. 

Currently, those assessments do not show up in your to-do list, so you’ll need to check them in order to assign the points for the manually-graded questions in the quiz.  

Set your New Quizzes to manually release the grades instead of the standard automatic release.  

New Quizzes automatically “grade” the essay questions by assigning zero points to them until you go through and actually grade the questions. This can be confusing to students, so you should set your New Quizzes to “manual release” in the gradebook to hide the grades until you’ve completed the grading.  

  1. Go to the gradebook and click the three dots in the column header for a New Quiz.  
  2. Select “Grade Posting Policy” at the bottom of the drop-down menu.  
  3. Select “Manually” from the panel that slid out and click “Save.”   
  4. Repeat for any other New Quizzes that contain manually-graded questions.  

Now, when you’re grading the New Quizzes, the grades will be hidden until you have finished and choose to release them. When you have finished grading, click the “eye” icon in the top left of SpeedGrader and select “Post Grades.” You can then choose to either post the grades for everyone in the course or for only the assessments you have graded thus far. Choose one of the options and click “Post.”  

Use SpeedGrader to assign points and add comments for essay questions.  

New Quizzes makes it a little fun to access SpeedGrader. Instead of accessing it through the assignment like you do for most other assessments in Canvas, you need to go to the Gradebook to access SpeedGrader.  

In the Gradebook, find the New Quiz you want to grade. Click the three dots in the column header for that item, then select “SpeedGrader” from the drop-down.  

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out through email ( or by leaving a comment below.  

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