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How to Use Negative Points

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You can penalize students' incorrect answers with negative points. Use this feature for multiple choice tests to discourage guessing. You can enable the negative points option during question creation or when editing a question.

Negative points for incorrect answers are available for the following question types:

  • Matching
  • Multiple answer
  • Multiple choice

For example, if a Multiple Choice question awards 5 points for a correct answer and 0 points for skipping it, you can set -20% (or -1 point) for each of the incorrect answers. Valid negative point percentage values for a question are -100.0 to -0.0.

Note: The negative points option does not appear for pools or surveys.

Use the following steps to enable the negative points option and use it for individual questions:

1. On the Test Canvas (in the "Edit the Test" not "Edit the Test Options" section), click Question Settings in the top right-hand corner.

2. On the Test Question Settings page, select Specify negative points options for answers.

Note: The negative points option appears only if you enabled the Specify partial credit options for answers option.

3. Click Submit.

4. For each appropriate question, select the check boxes for Allow Partial Credit and Allow Negative Scores for Incorrect Answers.

5. For each incorrect answer, type a negative percentage in the Partial Credit % box. For example, typing -50 will subtract 50% of the question’s possible points from a student’s total grade for selecting that answer. Zero is an acceptable value.

6. Click Submit.

After students submit attempts, you may not disable the negative points option on the Test Question Settings page. To remove the negative points option from an individual question in a test with attempts, clear the question's check box for Allow Partial Credit, which also disables negative scoring. Click Submit and Update Attempts and then OK. All test attempt scores are recalculated.

Tip: If you are using negative points as a guessing deterrent, mention this in the test instructions.

This article was updated: 04/27/2017