Now that you've started to build an advanced assessment, you may want to add an Essay question.

➡️ Need help getting started with Advanced Assessments? Click here

There are four types of essay questions:

  • Essay with Plain Text (this article): students will only have basic formatting options: cut, copy, and paste.

  • Essay with Rich Text: students will have other formatting options, including bold, underline, and italics.

  • Math Essay: students will be able to use the math keypad in conjunction with the regular keyboard.

  • Chemistry Essay: students will be able to use the chemistry keypad in conjunction with the regular keyboard.

The Essay with Plain Text lets students give long, detailed answers to questions (up to a maximum of 10,000 words). This Essay Question type only allows for basic formatting options such as Copy, Cut, and Paste.


💡 Tip from the Otus Team: The text entry field will expand as the students type, so they will always be able to see the entirety of their entry.

Build the Question

If you are creating a new item, select the + Create button on the assessment builder, title the item, then select the Add New plus sign to add a question.

If you are adding to an existing item, simply select the Add New plus sign (as shown above) to add a question to the item.

Next, select the Written and Recorded category from the options on the left, then select Essay with Plain Text.

Step 1: Write Question

  • Compose question: Type your question in the Compose question section.

  • You have many formatting options from the Rich Text toolbar, including changing the font size, adding tables, using math symbols, adding multimedia, and more! Click here for more information on the different functions of the Rich Text toolbar.

Step 2: Choose Student Format Options and Word Limit

  • Student Format Options: You can choose to disable the student's ability to copy, cut, or paste by unchecking those options.

  • Word Limit: Choose a word limit and if you'd like that word limit to be displayed for the students when they are taking the assessment. See the image below; the text entry field becomes red if the student exceeds the word limit.

Set the Scoring

The Essay with Plain Text question type is not an auto-scored question. This question will be manually scored by the teacher once the assessment has been turned in.

  • Step 1: Expand the More Options section.

  • Step 2: Add a point value into the Max score field.

Submit over limit:

  • If you leave this option unchecked (by default), the student will not be able to submit the answer if it is beyond the word limit.

  • If you check this option, the student will be able to submit the answer regardless of the word limit.

Student Preview

It's highly recommended to Preview the question as you are building it in the item. This displays the question as the students will see it and also verifies that the answers and scoring work as expected. Since this question is not auto-scored, you are previewing for formatting purposes here.

💡 Tip from the Otus Team: The text entry field will expand as the students type, so they will always be able to see the entirety of their entry.

➡️ Want to preview the entire assessment? Click here for details.

Optional Layout Adjustments

Each of these options can be found by expanding the More Options menu.

Special Characters

Checking this option will give the students a special characters tab in their toolbar, which will allow them to insert any of the provided special characters.. You can also type special characters into the "Characters to display" field if there are only a few you'd like your students to use.

Spellcheck and Text Correction

  • Found under the Layout section.

  • This setting is enabled by default. Misspelled words will be underlined in red.

  • If disabled, students will not have any indication of misspelled words.

Min and Max Height

  • You can adjust the size of the text entry field by adding values to the Min and Max height sections. For example:


  • You may want to add a placeholder which will be displayed inside the text entry field. It will disappear when the user starts typing text in.

Font Size

  • This is set to Normal by default. There are five total options: Small, Normal, Large, Extra Large, and Huge.

  • Changing this setting will change the font size of both the question and the response area.

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