Moving beyond “all or nothing” scoring for more-complex assessment questions

Partial scoring allows you to give learners credit for being partially correct on questions that have more than one correct response. 

Authors can control this:

  • At the Project level using a setting on the Publishing Profile
  • At the individual question level

Controlling Partial Scoring on the Publishing Profile

The Publishing Profile’s Test Options section has a setting for Partial Scoring. 

Authors can choose to turn this on or off to set the behavior for the Project as a whole.

The Publishing Profile is accessible from the Project Properties panel, which you can learn more about here:

Editing the Project Properties >>

Controlling Partial Scoring at the Question Level

Authors can also set Partial Scoring behavior on a question-by-question basis for any Question Pages in the project (except for True or False questions*).

On the Question Page’s Edit Question Properties panel is a setting for Partial Scoring with three options:

  • Use Publishing Profile (the default setting)
  • On
  • Off

If you set the question to On or Off, you are forcing the question to follow the selected behavior no matter what the Publishing Profile setting is.

To access the Question Properties panel:

  1. Select the Question Page in the Project outline.
  2. Select the Question tab.
  3. Select Edit


* True or False questions only have two options, so it's not possible for them to have a partially-correct response.

How Partial Scoring is Calculated

When partial scoring is on, the learner receives credit for any correct responses submitted but is also deducted credit for any incorrect responses submitted. If the score is negative, it will be scored as 0. 

Here’s an example multiple choice question structure that has two correct responses and two incorrect responses. 

  1. Correct Response 1
  2. Incorrect Response 1
  3. Correct Response 2
  4. Incorrect Response 2


Let’s first look at the possible scoring if the question's Maximum Selections setting is set to two selections. 

If partial scoring is off, the learner must submit a perfect response or they will receive 0%. So, the possible scores are:

  • Submitting 1 and 3 – 100%
  • Submitting any thing else – 0% 

If partial scoring is on, here are the scoring possibilities:

  • Submitting 1 and 3 – 100%
  • Submitting 1 only or 3 only – 50%
  • Submitting 2 and 4 – 0% (technically a deduction of 100% but negative-value scores are set as 0)
  • Submitting one correct response plus one incorrect response – 0% (credit of 50% for the correct response but deduction of 50% for incorrect response of 2)

If the question's Maximum Selections is set to four, the learner will have more “opportunity” to submit incorrect responses under partial scoring. 

For example, if the learner submits 1, 3 and 2 they will receive credit of 100% for the two correct responses and a deduction of 50% for the incorrect response for a total of 50% on the question.

If they submit all four choices, they will receive 100% for the two correct responses and a deduction of 100% for the two incorrect responses for a total of 0% on the question.

Partial Scoring and Partially Correct Feedback

In addition to feedback for Correct and Incorrect submissions, questions can also have Partially Correct feedback.

The feedback options are triggered based on the question score:

  • 100% - Correct feedback will be shown
  • 0% - Incorrect feedback will be shown
  • 1-99% - Partially correct feedback will be shown

In other words, the feedback for Partially Correct won't necessarily be triggered if the learner selects some correct responses and some incorrect responses.

If the correct responses and incorrect responses cancel each other out and the score is 0%, they will be shown the feedback for an Incorrect submission. 

This context is important to keep in mind as you write your feedback. You can use the choice-level feedback available for any question types that allow for partial scoring to help your learners understand this clearly.

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