Simple Calculated Question Type

Table of Contents:

  1. What is a Simple Calculated Question?

  2. Add a Simple Calculated Question

  3. Settings: General

  4. Settings: Answers

  5. Settings: Unit Handling and Units

  6. Settings: Multiple Tries

  7. Settings: Define the Wild Cards (Variables)

  8. Settings: Wild Card(s) Values

  9. Save and Preview

What is a Simple Calculated Question?

In a Simple Calculated Question type, students are presented with a quantitative problem or equation that they will solve and enter a number-based answer. This question type utilizes wild cards (variables) so that each student will have a different correct answer.

A Simple Calculated Question is set up similar to a standard Calculated Question, except that the section defining the wild cards is more simplified. Wild Card datasets cannot be shared between two Simple Calculated Questions as they can with Calculated or Calculated Multiple Choice Questions. 

In the example below, both of the numbers that the three students are asked to add together are Wild Cards.

Student 1 View

Student 2 View

Student 3 View

Simple Calculated Questions allow students to demonstrate lower-order learning objectives, according to Bloom’s taxonomy including such action verbs as solve, calculate, apply, complete, etc. 

Add a Simple Calculated Question

  1. Find the Administration block and under Question bank click Questions

  1. Select the desired Category for the new question, or add a New Category.  The default Category is named “Default for…” followed by the name of the course.

  1. Click Create a new question button.

  1. Select the Question TypeCalculated simple.

  1. Click the Add button to start creating the question content.

Settings: General

  1. In the Category field, select the desired Category for the Question (if not already done during the Add a Simple Calculated Question step).

  2. In the Question Name field, enter the desired name for the Question. 

  1. In the Question Text field, type in the content of the question. This field is HTML-editable, so it can contain images, special characters, links to outside content, etc.

  • Entry blanks can appear in the body of the text (by typing in a series of underscores like this: _____ ) or separate from the text (by not including any underscores).

  • The Wild card (or variable) should be entered as a letter or word with curly brackets around it.

  • For example, the wild cards are x and y in the question, “What is {x} + {y}?”

  1. For the Default Mark field, it is recommended to leave this at the default value “1”. The point value of the question within the quiz can be altered within the Quiz Activity.

  1. The General Feedback field can be filled in with feedback that all students will receive after completing this question. 

Settings: Answers

  1. Fill in the Answer 1 formula field with the correct calculation for the answer. 

  • Use “+” for addition, “-” for subtraction, “*” for multiplication, and “/” for division.

  • Never use “x” for multiplication.

  • Never use the “=” or equal sign in the formula.

  • More complicated functions are also available. 

In the example question, students are asked to add the two numbers {x} and {y}, the answer formula must be entered here as {x}+{y}

  1. In the Grade field, since this is the correct answer formula, choose 100%.

  2. To complete the Tolerance and Type fields, view the Tolerance and Type Document.

  1. In the Answer Display Field, select either the number of decimal places or the number of significant figures that will be displayed to students as the correct answer. This does not affect the number of decimal places or significant figures that the students must enter to be marked correct. 

  1. In the Feedback field, enter any feedback that student should receive if they submit the correct answer.

  2. Click on Blanks for 1 more answers to generate:

  • Answers from partially correct calculations. The Grade can be changed to a percentage other than 100%. Feedback can be included to explain why this answer only earned partial credit.

  • Answers from specific incorrect calculations. The Grade can be changed to a “None”. Feedback can be included to explain why this answer earned no credit.

Settings: Unit Handling and Units

Moodle’s Unit handling is not recommended. Extensive exploration has found it to be extremely buggy. 

Alternatives include: 

  • Providing students with a second question asking them to type in the unit.

  • Provide  the unit in the question text, such as the following:

“The volume of a 3 cm by 3 cm by 12 cm rectangular object is _____ cm^3” 

Settings: Multiple Tries

If Adaptive Mode is used in the settings on a Quiz, point deductions and feedback for each trial can be entered here. View the Multiple Tries Settings Document for more detailed instructions.

Settings: Define the Wild Cards (Variables)

Following these steps in order is crucial:

  1. First, click on the Find the wild cards {x..} present in the correct answer formula button to help Moodle identify the wild cards.

  1. Click on the Wild Card parameters used to generate the values settings menu. 

The parameters fields will not appear by default. The text “Wild Card parameters…” must be clicked on to edit the parameters for the wild cards used in the question.

  1. The minimum values, maximum values, and the required number of Decimal places for every wild card used in the question and answer can be entered here.

If more than one wild card was used in the question text, make sure to define the parameters of all wild cards in this region.

  1. Directly below the Wild card parameters are two buttons named Generate and Display.

  • First, choose the number of possible iterations of the wild card next to the Generate button

    • To minimize student receiving the identical values, choose a large number of possible wild card values. 

    • The maximum is 100.

    • Click the Generate button to create these values.

  • Second, choose the number of iterations of the wild card to proofread next to the Display button. 

    • To double-check for errors, it is recommended to preview all the iterations that were generated in the last step. 

    • The maximum is 100.

    • Click the Display button to make these values available for preview.

Settings: Wild Card(s) Values

  1. The Wild card(s) Values Settings menu is hidden until the Display button is clicked above (see Settings: Define the Wild Cards (Variables)). 

  1. Click on the words Wild card(s) values to open the Settings menu. This will allow the preview of the wild card values, the correct answers they will generate, and the minimum and maximum tolerance values.

  2. Error Messages:

  • “Use the advance button to see the errors” will let you know if the Tolerance and Type settings are keeping all of the correct answers from being marked correct.

  • The following example uses the answer formula {x}/7. The following error message appears:


  • Scrolling through all the value Sets, we find Set 95 has an Error Marker The current Tolerance and Type settings would not allow this question to be marked correct.

  • Changing the Tolerance and Type will fix this, but this change must be explored for each individual question. There is no one set of parameters that will lead to no errors every time.

  • Once any changes are made, return to the Wild card(s) values tab and click on the button Update the wild card values

  • The Error Message “Use the advance button to see the errors” has disappeared, and Set 95 also no longer shows an error. 

Save and Preview

  • Once all the fields are complete and there are no more errors, click on the blue Save changes button to be redirected to the Question Bank screen. The new question will appear highlighted in blue and/or green.

  • Previewing each new question to confirm that it is working properly is recommended. The Magnifying Glass Icon next to the question name allows a quick preview of that question outside of a Quiz Activity.