Which Canvas Tool Is Right for My Exam?

student looking at laptop

Canvas can make administering and grading online exams easier, but how do you know which tool is right for your exam? When considering the type of exam you will be giving, it’s important to understand the features and limitations of the current assessment tools.

New Quizzes

Use New Quizzes as the default quiz/exam tool. It offers a more intuitive question-writing environment for you and TAs, as well as a friendlier test-taking experience for your students. New Quizzes includes specialized question types, more granular settings for question shuffling and controlling how students can view their exam responses and correct/incorrect after submission, and simpler procedures for extra-time accommodations.

This quiz engine is also the preferred choice if you plan to use Respondus LockDown Browser, as it doesn’t require that students use their phones for two-factor authentication at the beginning of an exam. Additionally, New Quizzes allows you to regrade any automatically graded question.

Do not use New Quizzes if you need to:

  • Download a spreadsheet containing all student responses
  • Give a survey or quiz with no correct answers
  • Bulk-download all student submissions to file-upload questions
  • Need to allow students to record audio or video in their responses

Note: New Quizzes is compatible with courses using Blueprint templates, however, if you need to edit a quiz after syncing it to the associated child sites, the changes will not be pushed to the child sites. To prevent any syncing issues, plan to build your exam in a sandbox site and copy it to the template site only after the exam has been finalized.

Classic Quizzes

Classic Quizzes currently provides options that are not yet available in New Quizzes, but is more limited in terms of regrading. Use this quiz engine if you:

  • Plan to give a survey or quiz with anonymous responses or no correct answer for questions
  • Rely on a downloadable Excel file of student responses
  • Prefer to bulk-download all student submissions to file-upload questions
  • Need to allow students to record audio or video in their responses
  • Link to files as part of the instructions


If you are having students submit a document (for example, a take-home essay or presentation slide deck) as their assessment, consider creating a Canvas Assignment rather than a quiz. This will enable you to bulk-download submissions, run papers through the built-in Turnintin plagiarism-detection tool, and make annotations directly on submissions in SpeedGrader. Use Canvas Assignments if:

  • Students will upload all their work as a document (Word, PDF, Excel), link, or video/audio file
  • Students will submit the assignment as a group
  • Submissions will be scanned for originality through Turnitin
  • You plan to annotate and provide feedback directly on submissions
  • You wish to download all submissions for offline grading

Note: While you can set availability windows for Assignments to control when students can access and submit them, there is no countdown timer to create timed assignments. Use Classic Quizzes if you need students to upload a timed submission within a longer availability window.


Gradescope is an third-party assessment app that integrates in Canvas and allows you to create different types of assignments. It features a rubric-style grading system that’s ideal for scoring handwritten work and multi-part questions. Gradescope also has a feature for auto-grading bubble sheets. Consider using Gradescope if:

  • Students will be submitting handwritten work or calculations that they scan as a PDF
  • You will have multiple graders scoring individual questions
  • The exam uses bubble sheets

Still unsure of which tool is right for your exam? Email the Courseware Team at courseware@wharton.upenn.edu to request a consultation with a Canvas expert.