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Pretesting Options

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between prescriptive testing, pretesting, and diagnostic testing?

We have several types of pretesting:

  1. Lesson Pretesting: When pretesting is enabled, students take a 10-question quiz before each lesson. If they meet the passing threshold (set by the teacher/administrator), they do not have to complete the lesson. The lesson content, however, still appears in unit tests and cumulative assessments. Lesson pretests pull randomly from the quiz-level items bank. Note that pretesting uses up one of the student’s “fail attempts,” so if students are allowed two attempts on quizzes, the pretest will count as one. This means that if students fail both the pretest and the quiz, their teacher will have to give them another retake to let them take the quiz again.

    The rationale for including material the student pretested out of in unit exams is so as not to penalize that student’s grade for doing well. The student’s unit test grade will count toward his course grade. If we remove all the content he already knew and only include the content he might have found more challenging, we make the test much harder for him. It’s not fair to high-performing students to make their tests harder than it would have been if they’d known nothing.

  2. Prescriptive Testing: When prescriptive testing is enabled, students are given a big test at the start of the course, with one item for each lesson. So, if a course contains 92 lessons, the prescriptive test will contain 92 items. When a student answers a question correctly, the entire lesson is removed in the same way a teacher customizes out items in a course. It won’t show up in the student’s course map, so it will not appear in the cumulative exam. However, unlike pretesting, prescriptive testing relies on tagging by the editorial team. Each lesson must have one item tagged for the prescriptive test. (Generally, they select the item that best demonstrates a student’s mastery of the lesson content.) Because there is only one item per lesson, we generally discourage the use of prescriptive testing.

  3. Diagnostic Testing: Virtual Tutors employ diagnostic testing. This test contains three items per lesson, hand selected by the creator of the VT course (someone on the Customization and Alignment team). Students must get 2 out of 3 items correct to place out of the lesson. The same diagnostic test appears at the end of the VT course, as well, to benchmark progress. For this reason, students are not allowed to view the answers to the diagnostic test once they complete it.


Use this page to enable and disable the pretesting options for a course.

When enabled, the pretesting feature changes the course structure by adding a pretest to the beginning of each lesson. It is a 10-question quiz before each lesson. This pretest will measure the student's knowledge of the upcoming content, and allow the student to skip the lesson if mastery has been demonstrated. If the student passes the pretest at the predetermined threshold, then the system will automatically advance the student to the pretest for the next lesson. If the student fails the pretest, he/she will proceed through the lesson, completing each assignment in order. The student will then take the lesson quiz at the end of the lesson to move forward in the course.

When students pass the pretest, that score counts as a quiz score and will be calculated into the overall grade. If the student does not pass the pretest, the pretest score will not count toward the overall grade, but the content they complete in the lesson will. The quiz score at the end of the lesson will also count toward the student's overall grade. Students can go back at any time and review the skipped content from sections they tested out of. It should be noted that none of the scores earned on the skipped content will count toward the student's overall grade. These activities will appear as bypassed and will be in gray text.

Unlike prescriptive testing, pretesting can be turned on or off at any point, regardless of whether or not the student has started the course. Pretesting also allows the student to truly prove lesson mastery by requiring them to reach an appropriate percentage on the 10-question quiz. Prescriptive testing only requires one question to prove lesson mastery.

Please note that a pretest uses one of the student’s assessment attempts, so users may wish to compensate by adding an additional retake attempt in the Fail Attempts Allowed section of the Assessment Options page. For example, most programs automatically stop the student after two failed attempts on the same quiz. However, if the student fails the pretest, this will count as one fail attempt, only allowing one attempt on the quiz at the end of the lesson.

To follow the steps listed below, you will need to have "Edit Course Options" checked under School Courses. To validate your permissions, click here.

When students pass a pretest, that lesson bank of questions will be included in the test and exam banks, so they may be tested on that content again later in the course. Also keep in mind that some lessons do not contain quizzes (such as project lessons). The activities in these lessons will automatically be assigned to the student to complete when they reach that point in the course and pretesting will not allow them to skip these lessons.

Pretesting is not available for eDynamic Learning Courses

  1. Under the Courses tab, select Manage Courses.
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  2. Find the course with the filters or the search bar.
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  1. Checkmark the course(s). Click Edit Course Options.
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  1. Scroll down to the Pretesting Options section. Checkmark the box if enabling pretesting is desired. If enabled, state the threshold students should reach in order to move on to the next lesson.
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    Pretesting will not work on eDynamic Learning Courses.

  2. Click Submit.  
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  3. A notification window will ask which students should be affected by these changes. Select a choice. Click Submit.
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  4. At the top of the page, a confirmation states the changes were made successfully.
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