Tracking Number of Attempts per question?

Is there any way that I could limit/record the number of attempts for a student? Would it help if I promise to pay a year in advance? If I go to the coder’s house and type the code for them? I love Formative guys, keep up the good work!!!


Hey Toby! Thanks for posting :slight_smile: It’d be great to hear why you’d like to limit/record the number of attempts a student makes and also which question types you’d like this applied to. One issue that we’ve discussed in this category is sometimes students will just guess until they get the right answer (if you set the formative to score “Instantly”). One possible solution we’e talked about amongst our Certified Educators is allowing students to only check their score for a question a certain number of time. This would prevent you from having to “unlock” the question. It’d be great to hear if this would work well for your purposes!

Also, thanks for the Formative love! We make features based on great feedback like your’s and release them when we can!


So in using some of the other tech strategies in my class, I’ve stumbled upon the fact that if I let my kids take more than one chance to answer a question for an assessment, they are more excited, engaged, and less afraid of making a mistake on their assessments.

My kids have always had three chances on their questions, especially when I teach pre algebra and Algebra I. There are so many times that a simple mistake can cause an incorrect answer, but it belies the fact that there is still mostly mastery of the concept. Additionally, going back to see that you got it wrong and then going back to correct it does wonders for their retention and motivation. My kids don’t feel so hopeless in class because they always have a fighting chance.

So…long story short…if you give me a way to limit the number of chances I can give them, I can still assess in real time not only if they have mastery, but if they are getting it on the first attempt or not.

Your software opens up a lot of real time possibilities for me, but I just need to track attempts…Please! I’ll put a big “We Love Formative” sign in class…?


Thanks for the additional details. It helps to know that you want your students to have three chances on any given math problem. Currently, your students can attempt a problem as many times as they like. What’s preventing you from telling them to only attempt questions three times? How would having a feature to limit/record the number of responses specifically help further? What would count as an attempt to a problem? Is it after they finish and you give them feedback? Sorry for all the questions. I just want to make sure we consider all possible solutions!

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Well, first of all, I have a select few students that might not be as forthright as I would like them to be when it comes to being honest about how many tries they have attempted.

Secondly, any answer would count as an attempt, and at some point I do have to hold them ultimately accountable as to whether they know it or not.

I want them to have the feedback as soon as they enter the answer so that they can not only see if they have it right, but fix that mistake then and there instead of continuing with the assessment and continue to do it incorrectly.

I structure the class so that they can come to me for assistance when they run into a mistake and don’t know what to do. They know that they can get some help from me and still have a chance or two at getting at least partial credit for the problem instead of an all or nothing proposition. It keeps them motivated and engaged to know that getting it wrong is ok, and that all won’t be lost. Add that to the real-time information I am getting, and I can tell by looking at the results if the kids are getting it wrong a time or two and then figuring it out, or just getting it wrong multiple times. Which means I drop everything and instead of wasting a period of class-time hitting a wall, I would do a quick re-teach and assess again. I’ve seen it adds a level of independence and self reliance that helps them remember it more.

Does it make sense? If not keep asking questions, I appreciate the care you guys have about the program. :):grinning:

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Thanks! So do you set your formatives to return scores instantly? Are you finding that some students are guessing till they get it right and the node on the progress bar turns green for that question?

Exactly, instant feedback is key in my class. I want them to know their grade the second they leave my class. Some kids will continue to guess until they get it right if they know the strategy is available. I also want them to know that I am seeing everyone and how they are doing, so no one can hide…helps with motivation. That way they are more motivated to message me in the moment immediately and get help so they can get it right and move on.


Thanks for the confirmation! So would it meet your need if we made it so that when you used instant scoring, you could set it so that students could only check their answer a certain number of time? This way they could get that instant feedback, but be discouraged from guessing till it lit up green.

We are considering this alternative because a couple question marks come with adding the ability to limit the number of responses for any given question:

  • how would we define an attempt (it might be clear for MC, but not as clear for Multiple Selection, Short Answer or other question types)?

  • it might be tedious for the teacher to have to unlock a question for specific students if they get locked out from answering it

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I see what you mean. I think a submit button would solve the first problem. Either that or once the cursor leaves the black, it is considered a submission. There is code for that as you design the interface, depending on the language you are using.

The second issue of having to unlock a question may not be an issue. Remember, a teacher activates that option if they want to limit chances in the first place. If the student reaches their limit, credit is not awarded as designed. If the teacher does not want that to be the case, they don’t implement the feature as an option when creating the assessment.

Very cool conversation!!!


A submit button is definitely a potential solution that we are considering. I really like the cursor idea too!

Great point!

Agreed, the thoughts you shared are very helpful as we continue to consider this feature!

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