Creating an Essay question

NOTE: Essay questions can be used in standard tests, legacy tests, and the Surpass (Legacy) tablet app. For more information about test delivery types, read About Surpass test delivery options.

An Essay question asks candidates to provide an extended written response to a prompt.

This article explains how to create a basic Essay question in Surpass, including details on how to enable the formatting toolbar and word counter for candidates, set up paper delivery, and add the diagram creator.

In This Article

1. Choose your item type

In your subject, select Create New Item to open the Question Types menu. Choose Essay to create a blank Essay item and go to the Edit screen.

2. Name your item

Enter the item’s name in the Name field.

3. Enter your question text

NOTE: Question stem tables and the formatting toolbar behave differently in Mixed subjects and HTML subjects. For more information, read Creating tables in items and Using the formatting toolbar.

Enter your question text in the question stem. Select Add Text Area to add an additional question stem. You can have a maximum of five question stems per item.

Open Additional Options  to add source material or assistive media to your question stem. In mixed subjects, you can also add a table to your question stem (in HTML subjects, tables can be added using the formatting toolbar).

4. Add the Essay options

Set the maximum characters that candidates can provide in their response in the entry field. The default value is 5,000 characters (approximately 800 words).

NOTE: The maximum accepted character limit is 32,767.

Enabling the formatting toolbar

NOTE: The formatting toolbar is not supported in Internet Explorer.

You can let candidates use basic formatting tools when writing their response.

Enabling the word counter

You can let candidates view their current word count when writing their response.

Adding the diagram creator

NOTE: The diagram creator is not supported in Essay items delivered in the HTML test driver.

You can choose whether you want to allow candidates to create a diagram as part of their response.

Setting the answer input direction

You can change the direction of candidates’ inputs to accommodate right-to-left languages like Arabic and Hebrew. For more information on test driver languages, read About Surpass test languages.

Setting the number of lines

You can set how many lines candidates have to write their response on.

This acts only as a suggestion for the size of the candidate’s answer. Candidates can continue to write if they use up all the lines provided.

5. Set the marking type

Essay items are set to Human marking be default. If you want to mark candidates’ responses in either the Surpass Mark screen or SecureMarker, leave the Marking Type as Human. For more information, read Setting the marking type.

TIP: If you use an external marking platform, you might want candidates’ responses to bypass Mark/SecureMarker and proceed directly to Audit. In this case, go to Edit Settings > Marking Type and select Computer (Auto). Candidates’ responses will be retained by the system but will not be available for marking in Surpass.

6. Set the question’s marks

Set the item’s total marks in the Mark field.

7. Select a workflow status

Set the item’s workflow status in the Status drop-down menu. Only items set to Live can be used in a test.

An item's workflow status being set to Live.

8. Preview your question

WARNING: Flash is no longer supported by web browsers. Use the Surpass Viewer to preview items in the legacy test driver. For more information, read Installing the Surpass Viewer.

To see your item from a candidate’s perspective, select Preview .

In Mixed subjects, you can preview your item in the HTML test driver. Use the Preview arrow to open the Preview Options menu and select Preview in HTML . Any custom CSS is applied in the Preview screen. For more information on custom CSS, read ‘About Subject settings’ in About Site Settings options.

If you need to continue working on the item, select Edit to return to the Edit screen.

9. Saving and closing your item

Select Save to save your item to your subject.

To see additional saving options, use the Save arrow to open the Save Options menu. Select Save & Close to save the item and return to the Subjects screen. Select Save & New to save the item and create another Essay item.

WARNING: Saving changes to live items included in scheduled tests might affect candidate delivery.

Select Close to leave the Edit screen. If you have unsaved changes, you are prompted to either save or discard them.