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Why can’t I change a quiz in Moodle LMS?

This month, we seek to understand why Moodle LMS locks a quiz once it is already in use.

Why Modify a Locked Moodle LMS Quiz?

There are several reasons why a teacher may need to modify a quiz that is already in use.

You created the perfect quiz for your course and had all your colleagues try it out. But then the first few students take the quiz and you realize that some of the questions are as clear as mud, discovered that certain questions contain errors, or maybe your students are crying out for mercy because the quiz is just too darn difficult or confusing. What do you do? Well, fear not. With a little know-how, you can modify a locked Moodle quiz like a pro.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to ensure that any modifications to a locked Moodle quiz do not compromise the integrity of the assessment or give anyone an unfair advantage or disadvantage.

Adding or Removing a Moodle LMS Question

For example, let’s say you have a quiz with 10 questions and the passing grade is 50%. Half the class takes the quiz but some students just squeeze by correctly answering 5 questions, thereby successfully completing the quiz with a grade of 50%. Others failed having only successfully answered 4 out of the 10 questions correctly.

But then you, the teacher, realize that you forgot to include one question. If Moodle allowed you to add a new question to the quiz already in progress, how would this affect a student’s grade?

If Moodle was to give the student full marks for the new question that he or she did not actually answer, the student would still pass with 6 out of 10 (60%). However, if they had actually answered the new question incorrectly, they would have only answered 4 of 10 questions which would have been a failing grade of just 40%. This would be the same as if Moodle gave them no marks for the question that they did not answer. The act of adding a question could affect a student’s future as it could, in some cases, determine whether they pass or fail the course.

A similar situation could happen if you could remove a question. Depending on whether they answered the quiz question correctly or not, their grade could go from having answered 5 out of 10 questions correctly to only 4 of 9 questions (44%) if you happen to remove a question that they actually answered correctly in the first place.

Modifying an Existing Moodle LMS Question

Before you make a change to a question, it is crucial to ask yourself if making the question clearer or fixing a typo in the question or in an answer would have caused students who have already completed the quiz to have answered the question differently. If there is even the slightest chance that the answer to this question is YES, you would be altering the chances of a student passing or failing the quiz. Such a change might give students who have yet to take the quiz an unfair advantage over their more ambitious classmates.

If you were able to answer NO on the other hand, go ahead and edit your quiz. However, keep in mind that you will not be able to add or remove questions if there has been at least one attempt.

Did you know? If you update a question that comes from a Question Bank, your changes will be reflected everywhere it is used.

Testing a Moodle LMS Quiz

To avoid getting locked out of making some changes to your quiz, you can test it by using the  Preview Quiz button. This will enable you to test the quiz without recording any attempts or grades for the activity. As long as you use this button, you will be able to continue to add and remove questions from your quiz.

Reset a Moodle LMS Quiz

WARNING: Resetting a quiz will eliminate all attempts of any student having completed the quiz. It will be as if they had never attempted the quiz.


It is a viable option during quality assurance testing but probably should not be considered once students start attempting the quiz unless you intend for all students to retake the new version of the quiz.

1. To reset a quiz, go to the Quiz tab in your quiz and look for the link indicating the current number of attempts.

2. In the section called What to include in the report, select all users who have attempted the quiz and click the Show report button.

3. Check the box to the left of First name to select all students.

4. Click the Delete selected attempts button.

5. Finally, click the Yes button to confirm that you are absolutely sure that you want to completely delete these attempts.

Now go back to the Questions tab to find that there are no longer any restrictions and you may freely add or remove questions.

Rolling Self-Paced Course

If you have one or more courses where learners enrol and complete the course at their own pace, consider implementing a course life cycle management strategy where you periodically retire one version of a course and replace it with an updated version. For example, you may decide to refresh a course every 3, 6, 12 or 24 months, depending on how often the content needs to be updated. For example, this is a strategy often used for topics where the subject matter changes frequently or professionals need to be periodically recertified. But that is a topic for another time.

Hope you found the information in this article useful.

See you next month!

Michael Milette

Michael Milette
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Michael Milette

Michael Milette is the owner and an independent consultant with TNG Consulting Inc. in Canada. He works with government, non-profit organizations, businesses and educational institutions on Moodle-related projects. Michael writes about implementing Moodle LMS, developing in Moodle, Moodle administration, using the FilterCodes plugin (his own project), creating multi-language Moodle implementations and courses, and WCAG 2.1 accessibility.

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