Online open book exams with Gradescope

An online open book exam can be created by linking a Gradescope assignment to a Canvas assignment. This guide outlines how to create a Gradescope assignment that presents exam questions to students and allows students to submit responses, within a controlled time period.

Gradescope is an assessment tool that supports online submission, grading and feedback.

Overview video

This 7.45 minute video will take you through the steps of setting up a Gradescope exam as outlined below.

Creating an online open book exam using Gradescope

Gather the exam information and content

Before the open book exam is created online, you will need:

  • All details of the exam questions
  • Instructional text to describe the exam
  • Provided by the exam office: the exam scheduled start date and time, due date and time, and availability end date and time
  • Details of all alternative exam arrangements (AEA) including extended time limits or different availability times as these will require individual extensions to be created in Gradescope and changes made to the late due date. Please see granting extensions for further instructions.

For any technical enquiries relating to exam content development, the LMS and technical information about the exams formats, please submit a request to the Learning Environments team.

Create the exam template in PDF

All exam questions will be presented to students in a PDF that Gradescope refers to as a "template". This PDF template will be uploaded as part of the Gradescope assignment creation process.

The template can include spaces between questions for students to write or draw responses. Students may be using different devices and methods to create images or a PDF for submission. For example, some may print a hardcopy of the template, fill in the template by hand and scan or photograph the completed document for submission as a PDF or a collection of images; some may write their responses on blank paper and then similarly scan or photograph the finished sheets for submission; and some may directly annotate a soft copy of the template using a desktop or laptop computer, or a tablet or phone.

Your Canvas subject must be linked to a corresponding Gradescope course before the Gradescope assignment can be linked to a Canvas assignment. This process may have already been completed for your subject, or you may need to do it by following the instructions in our Getting started with Gradescope guide.

To check that your subject is linked, click on Gradescope in your subject navigation menu. If you are presented with the Gradescope interface, continue with the instructions below. However, if you are prompted to Link to Canvas Course, select Link with: A new Gradescope Course and click the Link Course button. Change the Term to the appropriate season and click Update Course.

If you cannot see Gradescope in your subject navigation menu, you must enable the tool and link your subject to your Gradescope course.

Set up the Gradescope assignment

Create the assignment in Gradescope

For staff that have supplied the details of the exam to the Exams Office, a Canvas assignment has already been created in your subject to be used for the exam; the due date and availability time and dates match the exam schedule. You need to create the matching Gradescope assignment with the same due date and availability dates, then link the two assignments together.

  1. Click Gradescope on the subject navigation menu.
  2. The Gradescope interface will open in a new window. Click Assignments in the Gradescope menu.
  3. Click the Create Assignment button in the bottom-right (or the centre if it is your first assignment).
Create Assignment
Click Create Assignment in the Gradescope interface
  1. Choose Homework/Problem Set from the available Assignment Types, then click Next.
    The Homework/Problem Set assignment type is the most suitable for students completing Exams in a home situation. Gradescope provides more information about other assignment types that are available.
Homework Problem Set
Create an Assignment Type Homework/Problem Set
  1. You will be presented with the Assignment Settings screen - enter the assignment name and other details as required to match the planned exam event.
  2. Click Select PDF to upload the previously created exam template document (this is the exam paper). This needs to be in PDF format.
  3. Leave Who will upload submissions? as Student. (Note that staff may submit on a student’s behalf if necessary).
  4. Enter the time and date from when students can view the exam into Release Date.
    This should match the 'Availability From date' in the Canvas assignment.
  5. Enter the time and date of when the exam is due into Due Date.
    This should match the 'Due date' in the Canvas assignment.
  6. Check Allow late submissions to allow extra time for technical issues, etc. Submissions will be marked as late and cut-off on the time you enter into Late Due Date.
    This must match the 'Availability Until date' in the Canvas assignment.
  7. For Submission Type select Variable Length. This setting is recommended to allow flexibility in student submissions. If the Templated/Fixed length option is preferred for your context, please ensure students are familiar with the processes to prepare and adjust submission documents.
  8. Do NOT check Enable Group Submissions.
  9. Ensure Allow students to view and download the template is checked.
  10. When ready, click the Create Assignment button.
Assignment Settings
Assignment Settings screen in Gradescope Interface

Create the outline in Gradescope

You now need to create the assignment outline so the question responses can be organised in Gradescope. Enter each question into the interface and match the question to the exam template.

  1. Once the newly created assignment loads, you will be presented with the Create Outline screen. Click + new question from the right-hand panel.
  2. Enter the Title and Point value for each question in the template (you can edit this later if needed).
Create Outline
Enter each question and point value to create the outline for the exam
  1. When ready, click the Save Outline button. Your exam assignment has now been created, and you will be returned to the Gradescope Dashboard.
Gradescope Dashboard showing the newly created assignment

Set up the Canvas assignment

You now can edit the settings of the existing Canvas assignment to convert it to a Gradescope assignment, and check that the name and date details match between Gradescope and Canvas.

  1. In your Canvas subject, click on Assignments in the subject navigation menu.
  2. Find the Assignment Group titled “Semester 1 exams, 2022”.
Exam assignment group
Assignment Group 'Semester 1 Exam' with exam assignment
  1. Open the Exam Assignment and click Edit.
  2. Under Submission Type, select External Tool then click Find.
Find external tool
Choose External Tool as the Submission Type then click Find.
  1. Scroll down and click Gradescope from the list of available tools, then click Select.
Select Gradescope
Click Find to Find Gradescope as an external tool.
  1. Double-check that the dates and times under Due Date, Availability From and Availability Until match what has been entered in the Gradescope assignment, as well as the published exam information.
  2. When ready, click Save and Publish to make the assignment visible to students straight away. Note that students will not be able to open the assignment or read the description until the availability date passes.
  1. Click Gradescope on the Canvas subject navigation menu to return to the Gradescope interface.
  2. Click on Assignments in the menu and open the exam assignment.
  3. Click Settings from the assignment menu and click the Link button under the Canvas Assignment heading.
Link button in the Assignment Settings
  1. In the Select Assignment to Link dropdown menu, select the newly set up Canvas exam assignment, and click the Link Assignment button.
Link Assignment
Linking the Gradescope assignment to the Canvas assignment
  1. Click Save.
Assignments linked
Gradescope assignment with Canvas assignment link set

If the incorrect Gradescope assignment has been linked to an LMS assignment, in Gradescope you will need to unlink the incorrect Gradescope assignment before linking  the correct Gradescope assignment to the LMS assignment. To unlink a Gradescope Assignment:

  1. In Gradescope, navigate to the assignment that has been incorrectly linked to the LMS Assignment.
  2. Click Settings in the menu on the left-hand side.
  3. Click Unlink.
  4. Click Save.
  5. In Gradescope you can now navigate to the correct Gradescope assignment, and follow the instructions above to link it to the LMS assignment.
Unlink the Gradescope and LMS assignments
Unlink the Gradescope and LMS assignments

This guide was last updated 21 Mar 2022.
Please report any errors or omissions in this guide by submitting an LMS support request.

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