Lesson question types

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Note: You are currently viewing documentation for Moodle 1.9. Up-to-date documentation for the latest stable version is available here: Lesson question types.

This page is about Lesson questions. Quiz and Question bank questions also use questions but their purpose and features are different. Question bank questions can be exported and then imported into a Lesson.

The Lesson module has 6 basic types of questions and most have the same common features.

Types of questions available within a lesson

Question type tabs.GIF
After selecting add a question from a menu, the teacher will default to the Multiple Choice question page tab. The teacher may change the question type at this point by clicking on a different tab.

Multiple choice

In a multiple choice question, the student is given a question and a list of answers. The Lesson module will shuffle the answer list every time the question is view by a student. In a multiple choice question, the student selects one answer.

Questions can use pictures. Indeed, pictures can be used as answers when the HTML editor is turned on and the page redisplayed. Each answer in a multiple choice question can be scored separately. The teacher can give a response based upon the answer selected by the student.

With multianswer box checked

With the multianswer box checked by the teacher, the student may select more than one answer.

An example of a multianswer question is:

Which of the following are mammals?
- A dog
- A cow
- A fly
- A buttercup

To ensure the multianswer feature works, all correct answers should be in first lines of the answer list, receive the same score (for example 1), response and jump to the same page. Then wrong answers go with the same score (usually 0), response and jump to the same page. In other words you should have two groups of answers (correct answers first and then incorrect ones) with the identical scores, responses and jumps for each group.

True / false

The True/False question type in a Lesson is like a multiple choice question with only two answers. The teacher enters in true and false. This allows custom scoring for a wrong answer and a custom response for either answer.

There is an HTML editor option which will appear after the question has been saved once.

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Short answer

In a short answer question, the student types in one or two words in response to a question (that may include a image). Answers are not be case sensitive. The answer could be a word or a phrase, but it must match one of your acceptable answers exactly.

Starting with Moodle 1.6, there are two different student answer analysis systems available for the Short Answer type of question in the Lesson Module: the simple system and the new regular expressions system. There is a "Use Regular Expressions" option box on the Edit Question Page screen in the Lesson Module.

We suggest first reading about the Short answer analysis. First read and try thee simple analysis, and then read the regular expression analysis section.

Short Answer Question set-up

  1. Fill in the answers you will accept. Always start with the best answer.
    1. You could give common misspellings partial credit in on of the answers. For example partial credit for "ban ki moon" instead of the proper "ban ki-moon".
    2. Wildcards (see below) allow for variants on a word.
    3. It is good practice to add a single wild card * for the last answer, so you can create a feedback response and a score for all other answers students might have.
  2. Add a score for each answer, when custom scoring is allowed.
  3. Create response feedback for any and all answers.

Tips for short answer questions

  • It's a good idea to keep the required answer as short as possible to avoid missing a correct answer that's phrased differently.
  • Prototype your short answer questions to catch common acceptable answers you hadn't thought of. Start out by creating a few acceptable answers, then include the question in a quiz for no points. Be sure to tell students you are testing a new question. Once the quiz is over, review students' answers and add their acceptable answers to the list.

Wildcard usage

You can use the asterisk character (*) as a wildcard to match any series of characters. For example, use
to match any word or phrase starting with ran and ending with ing. If you really do want to match an asterisk then use a backslash like this:
If you want one question with the two answers fuel and oxygen, you ought to be able to limit the number of variants by writing
fuel*oxygen 100%
. This would accept "fuel oxygen", "fuel, oxygen", "fuel; oxygen", "fuel and oxygen", "fuel & oxygen" "fuel oxygen", "fuel und oxygen" "fuel&&oxygen". It would even accept "fuel or oxygen", "fuel but not oxygen" "fuel|oxygen" which might not be so good but you can never be completely safe!

Here are some answers and scores for a question "What does a rocket burn?".

  1. oxygen*fuel
    with a score 100%
  2. *fuel*
    with a score 50%
  3. *oxygen*
    with a score 50%
  4. *air*
    with a score 40%
  5. * 
    with a score of 0%

The order of the answers is important. The answers are evaluated from 1st to last. When a match is found the process stops. If no match is found the question is scored wrong and the general response is used. It is a good practice to put a wild card as the last answer so the evaluation process knows what to do when nothing above it matches.

Without wildcards, the answers are compared exactly, so be careful with your spelling!

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Numerical Question

This type of question requires a number as the answer. In it's simplest form there is only one answer. For example "What is 2 plus 2", where 4 is the correct answer. A numerical question will also accept a number in a range as being correct. The answers are similar to short answer, where the order that the teacher lists the answers is important in the evaluation process.

The Lesson numerical question differs from the numerical Quiz question and the numerical embedded question in Cloze. For example, the use of ranges is expressed differently and there is no wild card in a Lesson numerical question.

Content and answer evaluations

As with other Lesson questions you will add a title and content. As with other Lessons question types you can set a jump, score and response for each answer.

Answers can be exact or include a range. Ranges are expressed with the low and high limits separated by a full colon. For example an answer of 1.75:2.75 includes the numbers between 1.75 and 2.75.

The answers supplied by the teacher are evaluated in order. When the range does not meet answer supplied by the student, the next answer range is examined. A good practice is to put the correct answer, the most specific allowed for full credit should be at the top of the list of answers.

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Matching questions

"Match the letter with its position in the alphabet"

Matching questions consist of a "answers" with a pull down menu of choices which must be matched against the answer. The answer can be text or pictures which must be correctly matched against a text list. For example "Match the letter with its position in the alphabet. The answer list would have A, B, C, D, Z and the possible matches (2, 4, 3, 1, 26) in a pull down menu next to each answer.

The list of items in a Matching question is not shuffled but shown in the same order as entered. The second list is shuffled.

There is one response for a correct answer and another for a wrong answer.

  • TIP: It is possible to have repeated matching entries in matching question in one of the lists. Care should be taken to make the repeats identical. For example "Identify the type of these creatures" with the lists "Ant, Cow, Dog, Sparrow" and "Insect, Mammal, Mammal, Bird".
  • From Moodle 1.7 onwards, there can be more matches than the question answer list. This makes it harder for the student if they do not know the right match. The extra matches are created by leaving the answer field blank but adding a "match to answer"

Scoring a matching question

In the Lesson matching question, all matches must be right for the question to be scored as correct.

It is possible to have repeated entries in matching question in one of the lists. Care should be taken to make the repeats identical. For example "Identify the type of these creatures" with the lists "Ant, Cow, Dog, Sparrow" and "Insect, Mammal, Mammal, Bird".

Lesson Module version differences matching questions

  • In Moodle 1.5, when creating this type of question the items for the first list go into the Answer boxes and items for the second list go into the Response boxes. Once created a more sensible labeling scheme is shown. When the student successfully matches the items the jump on the first answer is used. An unsuccessful answer jumps to the page on the second answer. The question does not support custom responses, the student is told how many matches are correct or if all the matches are correct.
  • In Moodle 1.6, when the student successfully matches the items, the Correct answer jump is used. An unsuccessful answer jumps to Wrong answer jump. The question supports only 2 response (= feedback) messages: the Correct response message is displayed if all matches are correct, and the Wrong response message otherwise.
  • From Moodle 1.7 onwards, there can be more answers than questions. This makes it harder for the student if they do not know the right match. The extra answers are added by leaving the question field blank.

Tips and tricks for matching questions

  • Matching questions look better on screen if you put the longer piece of text in the question and not the match. For example, when vocabulary matching put the single word in the match and the definition sentence in the question. Otherwise the drop down for long questions will be awkward to use and difficult to read.
  • Matching questions in a Lesson module are slightly different than in a Quiz module when the teacher is in edit mode. For example, there are scoring differences and a quiz does not use jumps.
  • Use of quotations in an answer, may cause a mis-match (wrong answer).

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Essay Questions

Short essay questions were introduced in Moodle version 1.5. These are meant for short, paragraph or two type of essays one often finds on exams. Thus we did not use the html editor, preferring a simple text field. For longer essays, the assignment module is a better choice.

The student simply enters their essay in the box provided. The teacher sees ungraded essay questions when opening the lesson. After grading, the teacher can email their responses to the student.

Needs more editiong
  • Essay Question set-up
  1. Give the question a descriptive name - this allows you to identify it in the question bank.
  2. Enter the question in the 'question text' field
  3. Select an image to display if you want to add a picture to the question. For the student, it appear immediately after the question text.
  4. Set the 'default question grade' (i.e. the maximum number of marks for this question).
  5. Moodle 1.7+: Add 'General Feedback' if required. This is text that appears to the student after he/she has answered the question. Note that this is effectively the same as the subsequent 'Feedback' field. The only difference is that General Feedback always appears at the bottom of the question, even after the grade and teacher's comments have been added.
  6. Add feedback if required. This is text that appears to the student after he/she has answered the question. See 'General Feedback' above if using Moodle 1.7 or higher.
  7. Click Save changes
  • Essay Question grading

The essay question will not be assigned a grade until it has been reviewed by a teacher and manually graded. Until that happens, the student's grade will be 0.

To grade a student's answer in a quiz, use the manual grading tab on the Results section of the quiz. When manually grading an essay question, the grader is able to enter a custom comment in response to the essay and assign a score for the essay.

  • Essay questions in a Lesson

To grade lesson essay questions, first click on the name of the lesson in your course page. If there are essay questions to be graded, there will be a link saying "Grade essay questions". This link will open a screen showing how many ungraded essay questions there are. Ungraded essay questions will be in listed in red. Click the link for the essay you wish to grade.

The essay grading screen shows the title of the question, the student's essay response, and a place you can write optional comments and give the essay a score. Click the Submit grade button to record your score and comments. Graded questions will be displayed in green. Repeat the process to finish grading. Click the "Email graded essays" link to email your responses to your students.

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Common features of a Lesson Question page

A lesson question page has areas for title, content, answers, responses and jumps. Depending up the lesson settings, each answer maybe assigned a specific score. Each question type has a slightly different look. I

The content and answer blocks have the Page content with the HTML editor toolbar available.


The title and content sections are the same as for a content (branch) page. The page title can be important identifier for a teacher when in edit mode.

  • TIP: Unlike a content page, the title will not appear to the student for a question page. Thus some teachers like to put the question in the title, others the answer.


Page content is the place you may present information and/or put your question that will be answered by the student.

Moodle is very robust when it comes to placing content before a student. It has a friendly HTML editor with standard icons for different editing functions and the ability to add HTML source code. Please follow the Page content link for more detailed instructions.

  • TIP: In some learning situations, the teacher will put lesson material in the page content area of a question. At the bottom of the content section, they will put the question the student must answer. In other other questions, they will only put the question as the content.


Answers are the choices the student must make. In a question, these can take different forms and show up below the content section page. Each of the question types has its own type of answer.

The default answer for a question with all blank answers is "continue".

The order of the answers will appear to be random to the students. In other words, two students looking at the same question, will see the answers in a different order. Unlike a Quiz, there is no Lesson setting to turn off the "shuffle".

The teacher should not skip an answer. For example, supply answers for 1, 3 and 4 but not 2.

  • TIP: Some teachers always enter the correct answer(s) first, since all the answers are always scrambled for the student. This makes it easier to proof read.

HTML and pictures in answers

In many question types, it is also the ability to use HTML editor tool in each of the answers. This feature is normally turned off. To turn it on check the box and go to the bottom of the page and click on the refresh button.

  • In a multiple choice question, one answer could be a picture, another text.


Every question can have a default or teacher designed response for an answer. Different types of questions use the response field differently. Version 1.7 has a Lesson setting that can turn off the default response.

Please check the question type to see how responses are used for that type.

  • In earlier versions without the display feedback option, a default response message will be displayed to the student upon answering each question. TIP for older versions: if you want no visible message displayed after the answer, then make sure your enter the special character called a non-breaking space as response in text mode. Type this in text mode:   (Ampersand nbsp semicolon).


Jumps determine what happens after a student makes a choice. Their use is the same as a Content (Branch Table) page jump.

Usually the presentation mode default for a question with all blank answers is "Next Page". The default for Correct answer is "Next Page. For a wrong answer the default is "This Page." See Lesson Flash Card for lesson setting that create a different random navigational order for the student.

Each answer can have a unique jump in a multiple choice and true/false. There can only be a correct and wrong answer jumps for multianswer(multiple choice type), matching, short answer and numeric questions.

  • TIP: Make sure you check lesson settings and flow control if the student seems to jump to an unexpected page. For example, these settings will determine what happens if you don't put in an answer or a jump for a correct answer.


The score is used when "custom scoring" is turned on in the Lesson settings. It serves as the basis for grading each specific answer. It can be a positive or negative number. The default is 1 for a correct answer and 0 for a wrong answer. It is possible to use other scoring methods which ignore this value.

  • TIP: Custom scoring does not have to be turned on to create a lesson score. See Lesson score for more information about how scores are used.

Other at bottom

There are several buttons at the bottom of a question page. Save and Cancel should explain themselves. Redisplay is used after the "use HTML Editor" box is checked on the answer.

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Some differences between Lesson and Question bank questions

  • In a Quiz the student can not be sent to another page on the basis of their choice.
  • The method used in evaluation of some question types is different.
    • Short answer - Quiz and Lesson share one evaluation method, Lesson has a second type available.
    • Numerical - Quiz uses a single number with a tolerance range also defined by a single number as the method of evaluation. Lesson uses a range between two numbers.

See also

Quiz question descriptions