When creating an assessment, you can create an essay / short answer question (SAQ) in New Quizzes. In an Essay / SAQ question, students are required to enter a text response. You can also add word count, word limit, spell-check, and Rich Content Editor options for students’ responses.

You can also add grading notes to an essay or SAQ question. Grading notes will display next to the question as a reference to help you grade student responses.


To create an essay question in New Quizzes, complete the following steps.

  1. Create a quiz with New Quizzes. See Creating a New Quizzes Quiz in Canvas (formerly Quizzes.Next).
  2. In the quiz builder, ensure that the Build tab is open.
  3. Click the + icon. The Insert Content dialog box displays.
  4. Select + Essay.
  5. In the Question Title field, enter a question title. Question titles are optional and are not visible to students.
  6. In the Enter Question/Prompt field, enter the prompt for the essay question. You can use the Rich Content Editor to format and add content to your prompt.
  7. Optional: You can enable various tools for students to use when answering an essay question.
    1. To allow students to use an on-screen calculator, select the Show on-screen calculator checkbox. When you select this option, you can choose either a basic or scientific calculator. The basic calculator displays numbers and basic math functions (add, subtract, multiply, divide). The scientific calculator displays more options for advanced calculations.
    2. Note: The on-screen calculator option is intended to be used while displaying one question at a time. If the assessment does not display one question at a time, students may be able to use the calculator for all questions.

    3. To disable the Rich Content Editor, clear the Rich Content Editor checkbox. The Rich Content Editor is enabled for students by default.
    4. To enable spell-check, select the Spell-check checkbox.
    5. To enable word count tracking, select the Show Word Count checkbox.
    6. To set a word limit for the Essay question, select the Set Word Limit checkbox. You can set a minimum and maximum word limit for student answers.
  8. Optional: To add grading notes, click Grading Notes and enter your notes in the text field.
  9. Optional: To align the question to an outcome, click anywhere in the Align to Outcomes section.
  10. Optional: To add the question to an item bank, click Item Banking, then click Add to Bank.
  11. Note: After a question has been added to an item bank, it can only be edited in the item bank. You can still set unique point values and options in the assessment for an item bank question.

  12. Optional: To customise the point value for the question, type the point value in the Points field or use the arrows to increase or decrease the point value.
  13. Optional: To leave feedback for students, click the feedback icon Image Placeholder, enter the feedback, and click Done.
  14. To save the question, click Done.