Exam Protocol: Gradescope

Gradescope is an online assignment collection and grading platform used at Illinois. It is commonly used for CBTF Online exams for students to upload images of their handwritten work. See the Grainger 2020 Leaning-In Assessment site for more information about Gradescope in our college.

Gradescope has limited options on how to restrict distribution of your exam, especially if you have multiple testing times and don’t want to students to see the exam who are not testing yet. For that reason, we recommend hosting the exam download somewhere else, only using Gradescope for the student submission and grading.

In this guide:

Box: Set Up Your Exam Distribution

Goal: Put your exam document up on the web somewhere that is available but obscured. We want to make the address to it “secret” until we share it with the students after checking-in.

We recommend using a Box.com folder. It’s easy to upload the documents and share as a website as a link address that is not directly guessable.

Create the folder and upload your exam document. On the right hand side, click “Share This Folder”:

We recommend setting the following Sharing settings on the folder:

  • Restricting to Illinois logins does not work because most undergrads have not activated their Box.com account. It’s best to make this as openly permissive as possible.

Click the toggle-slider for “Create shared link”.

Click “Invited people only” and select the “People with the link” option.

Save the Share Link address to put into the scheduler.

Note: Box.com from China

Students accessing Box from China requires that they either use the UIUC VPN or visit a different hostname. See https://answers.uillinois.edu/96913 for more information.

The scheduler will automatically include both US/world and China links in the student instructions.

You can check if the Box link is setup correctly by opening that URL address in a new private-browsing or incognito-mode browser window. The Box page should load without requiring any login.

You can add the exam download link to your CBTF exam instructions via the “Gradescope config” tab of the exam.

Saving the exam download link in the Gradescope config page will make the download instructions and link visible to students after they have checked-in to their reservation. You can preview these instructions in the “Student Instructions” tab.

Gradescope: Configure the Assignment

This instructions assume you have already created an instructor account in Gradescope, created the course, and invited the students to join the course. For help with these steps, see the Gradescope Help.

Create the Assignment in Gradescope

For Assignment Type, select Homework / Problem Set

  • This is true even for “exams”. The Assignment Type defines the upload style that’s specific to this use more than Gradescope’s naming convention.

Configure the Assignment in Gradescope

Option NameRecommended SettingExample
Assignment NameName your exam in Gradescope the same as it is named in CBTF scheduler.Quiz 2
TemplateThis is where you would upload your exam to Gradescope, if we were using it for distribution. Because that is unsafe for the multiple testing times CBTF uses, we suggest uploading our instruction template instead. It tells the students where to go to get their real exam. It is reusable for all of your CBTF Gradescope exams.cbtf-exam-template.pdf
Who will upload submissions?StudentStudent
Release DateThe reservation time of the earliest student testing.Sep 8 2020 02:00 PM
Due DateThe reservation time of the latest student testing, plus the length of the exam for the longest duration exam. It’s OK to pad this even longer if you’re unsure. Student submissions will be allowed between the Release Date and Due Date, but will be time stamped per submission.Sep 9 2020 10:00 AM
i.e. 8 a.m. start time + 50 minute exam * 2x accommodation multiplier = 10 a.m.
Allow Late SubmissionsUnchecked
Enforce Time LimitUnchecked
Submission TypeVariable LengthVariable Length
Group SubmissionUnchecked
Template VisibilityCheckedChecked

Create Outline in Gradescope

The last step of the Assignment creation is to define the outline of questions in your exam. This is more exam-content specific than anything for the CBTF.

The students will use this outline to tag the images in their uploads back to the question(s). You can define the question names and point values here. They don’t need to line up with anything in the exam template.

At this point, the Assignment is configured in Gradescope.

Alternative: Distributing Your Exam from Gradescope

Instead of hosting the exam download in Box.com, you may wish to use Gradescope as a distribution source for your exam. Only use this method if:

  • All of the students testing will start the exam at the same time (a single synchronous exam)
    • Your exam will be available to all students in Gradescope during its Release Date to Due Date.
  • Do not use this method if you have students testing later, like for a conflict. They would be able to see the exam early. That’s why our recommended method makes the exam download link only available after a CBTF reservation check-in.

For this configuration, upload your exam document as the Gradescope Assignment Template (described above). Make sure the “Template Visibility” box is checked so the document is made available to students.

In the CBTF scheduler exam Gradescope config, do not set a exam link address. The student instructions will fallback to assuming the exam is available to download from Gradescope.

Alternative: Distributing Your Exam from a Different Website

If you prefer, you could use a different website or hosting provider for the exam document download for students. You’ll want to make sure the document is not visible to the students (not linked in anywhere or otherwise hidden) so that they do not discover the link early.

Best Practices

Your students should already have practiced outside of the CBTF (with homeworks or other graded assignments) the process of uploading to Gradescope. General student familiarity with Gradescope (i.e. where to find your course, how to image and upload the documents with their phone, how to know if it was successful, etc.) is required prior to them using the CBTF. There is not instruction in these areas by the proctors during a CBTF exam. CBTF assumes the student comes in already knowing how to use Gradescope.

Digital inking on a tablet is not supported in the CBTF. Students in the CBTF must use pencil/pen and paper to write out their Gradescope exams.

Your exam should instruct the students they can only upload their exam during their CBTF reserved time window. Any uploads outside those times will be discarded. Gradescope will offer the student that multiple uploads are available through the Due Date.

You should make it clear to your students that the resubmission part of the dialog is not accurate for your exam.

Students can use the phone they are being Zoom proctored with to take images of their papers and upload to Gradescope. That uploading can happen while Zoom is running. Honest, it just works. If the student leaves or gets dropped from Zoom during the Gradescope upload process, that’s not too terrible as the exam should be completed.

You can audit the CBTF exam reservations page to see the check-in and check-out times for your students. That should correspond with their Gradescope submission times. If not, a student might have uploaded something outside of the proctored testing window.

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