Quizzes and Their Purpose

There is a course that I did not create with a40 question quiz (why!) and absolutely no feedback on right or wrong answers. Users must pass the quiz with an 80% in order to "complete" the course and access a certificate of completion. Individuals who are involved in the design of the quiz don't want to give feedback on the questions that were answered wrong for fear that they could share the answers with someone else. This seems absurd to me and is absolutely frustrating to the user. There are people who are taking the quiz 5-7 times and still not passing but don't know where they went wrong. Your thoughts and input are appreciated.

5 Replies
Bob S


There are two key rationales for post-course quizzes; 1) proving recall/knowledge and 2) enhancing/cementing the learning.  The reality is most quizzing decisions fall somewhere along the continuum between these two polar points.

Each situation is different naturally. So  it may be perfectly acceptable for a course associated with a certification and/or high risk topics to have a quiz that falls strongly on the proving knowledge side with little feedback, lots of hard questions, randomized question pools, etc.   

Conversely if the point of the quiz is to cement learning for a typical business topic for example, you might expect detailed question level feedback, less pooling or use of themed questions, and sometimes no passing score requirement at all even. 

So to address your concern.... While my knee-jerk reaction is to agree with you in most situations, First I would speak to the stakeholders and IDs to understand the purpose of the quiz and where they see it falling on the continuum...  Then you may have a very valid case to make for restructuring it to suit the real need.

Hope this helps,


Jackie Van Nice

Hi Carmen! 

I can appreciatehow frustratingthis must be! I certainly agree with Bob that gaining more insight into what the true requirements are will tell you more about what is and isn't possible. 

In general, I'd suggest adding feedback. Even if you didn't reveal the answer, you could sure as heck point to the resource(s) they need to review (could be inside or outside of the course) - and this direction could even be enhanced with some sort of guiding hint. 

After that I 'd probably toss all those questions into a question bank and do a random draw of X number of them. (X = being far than 40.) Don't know if your requirements would allow for it, but it's a thought.

Best of luck!



Refugio Jones

Hi Carmen,

This sounds like a difficult situation and of course you (and the quiz takers) would be frustrated. I hope that you can find a reasonable solution to this problem. Here's what I think:

Maybe you can you analyze the entire course to learn more. It's not mentioned in your post, but there might be a mismatch in this situation. What do you find when you examine the objectives (if any), the lesson, and the quiz? Are the three congruent with one another? The fact that learners are having to repeat the quiz seems to indicate that something is amiss. Your analysis could help you make a stronger argument for the changes you decide to make. Also, what are they trying to achieve with such a long quiz? Are the questions too hard or too obscure or too clever (besides being too many)?

Second, follow your intuition on this. Feedback is essential to let learners know where they went wrong. Is this quiz tied to a vital certification? If not, then 40 questions sounds excessive. I have some thoughts to help you here:

Are there any repetitive questions? If so, these should be your first editing victims. Get rid of any repetition. There's no point in asking the same question in two or more different ways.

Another tip to help you depends on the product you're using, you may be able to randomize the quiz and automatically select questions from a pool. A randomized quiz of 15 to 20 questions taken from a pool of 30 or even 40 questions would ensure that each quiz taker does not see the same quiz. In this case, feedback would still be useful if the quiz taker sees the same question again. When given a randomized quiz, learners don't find it useful to share answers.

My last tip is a personal favorite when creating courses. I like to add a practice question or two at the end of each scene or section, which helps learners warm-up for the quiz that follows.

I hope I've given you some useful things to think about.

Best wishes!

Ben Sewell

I agree that this seems excessive, but if there is little room for manoeuvre, how about using a question pool of 60-80 questions which are chosen randomly and shuffled? The effort involved in sharing answers would simply not be worth it.

From this you can score key areas they need to improve from and send them to those topics.

Scott Kaye

Great comments already.  I will add that I find many tests are done with poor understanding of what the actual objectives are.  I work in healthcare, and 80% is never acceptable to me.  Sure, it's fine if you are wrong 2 times our of 10!

One of the best ways to avoid shared answers (if that is really a fear) is to use a larger quiz bank and a random question distribution.  In general, I have found that a mandatory review of the wrong questions along with a rationale and a passing score of 100 work far better for learning than merely demonstrating some arbitrary level of performance.