Essay Questions and Assignment Points!

LearnDash Updates latest

Today is a pretty exciting day from a LearnDash update perspective.

It’s the day that you all get one of the most requested features in the history of our WordPress LMS.

You can read all of the juicy details further down in this announcement, but if you’re not one for waiting: this update contains the new essay (“open answer”) question type!

But we also threw in one other extra feature that you may enjoy among various “behind the scenes” enhancements.

Essay/Open Answer Questions

In this version (2.2), you now have the option to administer essay (free form text) questions in your quizzes, giving you a total of 8 possible question types available in LearnDash.

When you are adding questions to your quiz, simply select the new question type:

An essay can either be a submitted (uploaded) document, or a free text entry as shown in the options below:

The final (but most important) setting for your essays is how they are to be graded at the immediate completion of the quiz.

You will see the following options via a drop-down menu:

Using this drop-down, you can determine whether you want to allow the user to continue in the course, or wait until you have officially scored the quiz.

Below is a description of what you can expect from each selection:

  • Not Graded, No Points Awarded – The essay question is submitted and awaiting grading. Final quiz grade presented to learner is displayed as “Pending”.
  • Not Graded, Full Points Awarded – Essay status is “Not Graded”, but full points are awarded. You can filter by “Not Graded” essays to grade them at a later date.
  • Graded, Full Points Awarded – Essay status is “Graded” and full points are awarded.

IMPORTANT:  If no points are awarded for the essay, this (temporarily) counts against the final score. If the total points obtained from the other questions meets the passing threshold, the user can continue with the course. However, if they do not earn enough points to meet the passing threshold then they will not be able to continue.

Certificates will not be awarded if the quiz essay question is still in a NOT GRADED status, even if certificate threshold is met.

When an essay is complete for a quiz, you can find it under QUIZZES > SUBMITTED ESSAYS

You can filter by status (Graded versus Not Graded), as well as the course and lesson of the essay.

Click EDIT to review the submission. If an upload was required for the essay, this is where you can download the file.

This is also where you can award points and place the essay into a GRADED status.

If you previously set the grading of the essay to Not Graded, No Points Awarded, then the status and grade of the quiz will no longer be in Pending status after you award points and indicate that the essay is graded.

If the user did not meet the passing threshold prior to grading but after grading of the essay they meet the threshold, then they will be permitted to continue with the course.

Points For Assignments

Previously when assignments are submitted they can only be put into an “Approved” status.

Now you have the option to allocate points (grade) assignments that are submitted. Simply open up a submitted assignment and you’ll see a field where you can give a certain amount of points:

Just as before, if the assignment is set to auto-approve then the user can continue to the next lesson after assignment submission.

If auto-approve is not selected, then you have to approve the assignment first (and award the applicable number of points). This can be done from the ASSIGNMENTS menu.

Select the assignment and click EDIT. Here you can award points and update the status of the submission:

The awarded points will show for the user on the lesson where they originally uploaded the assignment.

The ability to assign points to an assignment will open new possibilities for add-ons (some of which are already in the works! 🙂 ) and future core development.

We also would love to hear scenarios on how you’d like to utilize assignment points – so please do let us know!

All of these great features are available today. If you don’t see this from your admin dashboard, please reference this support article for some guidance on updating.

The Evolution Continues

First, let me say that we are far from done with updates to LearnDash for this year.

  • Yes, you will receive more core enhancements
  • Yes, you will receive access to more add-ons

The reason we continue our rigorous pace for updates and improvements is because the elearning industry as a whole never slows down. We are also constantly learning from you, our customers, as you share with us your ideas and suggestions.

But in addition to short-term goals, we are also in it for “the long game” as we plot out new avenues and opportunities for you to leverage as LearnDash customers.

In short: it’s an exciting time to be a LearnDash customer!

Until next time!

(Don’t have LearnDash? Join the fun!)


Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Twitter | LinkedIn

50 Responses

  1. This new feature is so important for my new course and it is here just in time! I love the features that are added and the addons that are being developed. Thank you so much for continuing to add value to an already amazing plugin and your personal presence in the forums Justin!

  2. Great ! Wish you could have updated it a few days ago. I purchased another plugin because this feature was missing and it was imp for me. Now i wasted my money on that and cant afford to purchase second one now. 🙁

  3. Hi Justin,

    Great new update! As for the slow elearning industry. I think you’re bringing the speed in the elearning industry. As I see how many updates and new adons you brought for Larndash in those few years, it is amazing! And always very helpfull with support. I’m very happy I bought Learndash right at the start and I’m proud to being a member of the Learndash community. I read most of the posts on the forum, because your weldone answers to the questions make it a very powerfull database where peolple can learn a lot from.

    Can’t wait for the next update and addon. They always make my day!

    1. Thank you so much for this feedback Wilo. It really means a lot to us that you have enjoyed being part of our community.

  4. Another great update Justin, I will help spread the word on Twitter. I also have a new article written which I am going to release today on FAQs around using WordPress as an LMS platform.

  5. I thought you got rid of cloze, but then I saw that it was changed to fill in the blank. I nearly had a heart attack!

  6. Couldn’t have come at a better time… was literally just wracking my brains of how to get around this. Thanks!

  7. I have looked at many WordPress LMS solutions and as yet, your is the best out there. Some of them miss out some really basic functionality like “multiple right answers to a question” as an example. Keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Kevin-
      Thanks for the comment. Elsewhere on the site? No, this is not a feature. The essay response can be reviewed by the learner prior to submission of the quiz.

  8. Just in time!

    I’ve got a certification exam where we were going to do the regular questions in LearnDash and the essay questions via google doc or emails or something so I’m thrilled to have this instead…

    Thanks LearnDash!

  9. Great new feature. Are essay questions typed into the free text box part answer of the quiz part of the quiz time tracked with xAPI?

    Thanks Justin

    1. Hi Dale-
      Replies to essay/open answer questions are done within the quiz in LearnDash via a textbox (assuming document upload isn’t selected). No changes have been made to the way xAPI currently works.

  10. I am thrilled. Just yesterday a client asked if they could see the ‘grades’ on the submitted case studies. Being able to assign points will strengthen the accountability we are building in, a requirement of our banking clients.

    I also loved the email and will ‘swipe’ the idea for announcing our own upgrade, which is really your upgrade. Thanks for the sample of how to share the good news.

  11. Great update! I would love to see the points be able to be “spent” for something… adding to the gamification aspect of the plugin. Maybe hook into WooCommerce, that way as students progress through different courses they can “purchase” supplemental things.

  12. Oh wow, I am so excited to run across LearnDash – I have had a couple potential clients looking for exactly this…now I know! Better late than never. Hope I get the opportunity to use this with a future client!

  13. Justin, this is fantastic, thanks too all of you for making LD the best decision I made when looking at which LMS to use.

  14. Hi, let me start with how great I think Learndash is! Thanks!

    I wanted to ask if there any future updates coming around groups/group leader functionality. Is there any plans on bringing this functionality to the front end? It would be great if we could put in a shortcode and get what the group leader sees around the student grading and results and keep them put of the back end.

    Thanks again for the wonderful plugin.

  15. Justin, do people have the ability to upload photos (needs to be multiple) into their essays (in the text box, not when uploading documents). If so, this is the most perfect feature I didn’t know you had for our community and online course!

    If not, is it at all possible to make that happen in any way? Thank you! ?

      1. Sir, during view of topics we can’t upload assignment. Can you help us to resolve the issue why this happening in this plugin.


  16. Is there a way to let the student proceed with the course if they have not been graded by a tutor. Ie.
    I have 400 students doing 19 courses with 4 assignments per course. Its not practical for tutors to keep on track and keep all the assignments corrected as soon as the student does them. It may take a week for the tutor to correct assignment. This means that the student cant go onto the next course/lesson until the tutor corrects the course/lesson. That means the student is hanging around for a week waiting on the tutor to get the next course/lesson/assessment done.

  17. Hello, how can students see their results? As an example, I’m asking an open-ended question “What are your objectives for this course?” How can a student later review their answer to ensure they’ve achieved their own objectives with the course?

    As an admin, I see where I can go see their answers. I’m just not sure how users can easily retrieve their past answers.


  18. When I go to export quiz essay responses from the reports tab, no field is generated with the actual response…only points awarded. Please add this feature. It would give admins/instructors a fantastic overview of quiz responses that could then be sorted and analyzed.

  19. Can I assign both an assignment and a quiz to a topic? It seems one overrides the other in regards to how the user completes the topic? Will I need to make the upload assignment available within the quiz instead?


  20. I would have thought that the marker added comments would allow a user to go back into their essay, see what they have submitted and also the comments by the marker?
    I can’t see where this is located? Why even allow comments?

    1. If notifications of comments are turned on the user will be notified via email and can view them.

  21. Is there any easy way to give feedback to student? Now the only option is only grade or not grade?

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