Online exams for Skills for Employment!

This term, Maths tutors in the Centre for Lifelong Learning have been busy taking part in an online exam pilot for their “Skills for Employment” modules. During April and May, Maths tutors ran exams using the Moodle quiz tool for Entry Level 2, Entry Level 3, Level 1, Level 2 and Foundation GCSE students.

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 17.40.46
Example screen from one of the assessments

During an Entry Level 2 session I supported, students soon grasped how to use the Moodle quiz to test themselves, enjoyed the experience and were pleased with the results. Afterwards, students found out if they had passed or failed and tutors and team leaders could view their submissions in detail. Of course, the Moodle quiz tool can provide detailed information on student progress but it also cuts down teacher marking time considerably – an instant win for busy tutors!

The Numeracy team leader, Rosie Iribis, has been delighted with how well the pilot has gone with tutors and students alike. As a result, the English team leader, Mary Browne, would now like to try online exams for her English “Skills for Employment” module. She would like to experiment with multimedia with her students during the second phase of this pilot in 2016-2017.

As with any pilot, there were some lessons learned. Our initial recommendations for running exams in Moodle are as follows:

Exam Content

  • A subject expert should lead the coordination of content writing for exams (preferably providing guidelines and example question types)
  • Content writers should write and send content to the coordinator
  • Once content has been signed off, it should be sent to the person building the quiz
  • Once the quizzes have been built in Moodle, the reviewers should do one final check

Moodle Question Bank

We recommend saving questions in a question bank so they can be shared and reused for teaching, revision or assessment

  • A question bank should be set up in an appropriate category for the Centre
  • Questions should be organised into subcategories according to subject and level
  • Questions should be named appropriately for easy searching

Moodle Quizzes

  • If multiple exams are being run for a particular subject and a team leader wants to check all the results in one place, we recommend setting quizzes up in a dedicated Moodle page, organised by subject/level
  • Questions can then be imported from the question bank
  • Groups should be set up and assigned to appropriate quizzes
  • Suggested quiz settings
    • Shuffle questions to prevent plagiaraism
    • Set timing as appropriate
    • Set the score to 100
    • Define the pass mark
    • Provide instant results to students explaining if they have passed or failed in the feedback
    • Defer detailed feedback until the end of the time limit


  • Consider what extra support might be needed for SEN students
  • Agree a policy for resits
  • Give invigilators a brief induction
  • Students should check IT/Moodle access at least a week before
  • Provide ‘How to guide’ for students
  • Arrange support with the Digital Education team

Future considerations will include exploring the requirements for running exams with richer media and looking into certificates and/or badges for students who pass.

If you are interested in running online exams with your students, and would like to discuss this further, please contact your friendly Digital Education team for advice!



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