How to Choose a Passing Score for

How to Choose a Passing Score for E-Learning Quizzes

Damian Hehire-learning

How to Choose a Passing Score for E-Learning Quizzes

Quizzes are a crucial element in most e-learning courses. They help the learner understand their progress and they provide data on the success of the course. They can also be used to direct the next steps. For example, repeating the course (or part of the course) if the learner gets an insufficient score on the quiz.

That leaves a question – what is a sufficient score in an e-learning quiz? What passing score should you set?

Many e-learning courses use a default setting, so the passing score is often around 80 percent. Does an arbitrary number like this work in all situations? Is there a better approach?

Start With Learning Objectives

The process for choosing a passing score for quizzes in your e-learning courses should start with defining your learning objectives. What do you want to achieve and what do you want the learner to know or be able to do at the end of the course?

Understanding the objectives of the e-learning course will help you create better questions in the quiz – questions that will give the best insight into whether your learning objectives have been achieved.

Before finishing this point, it is important to highlight the fact that many e-learning courses don’t have properly defined learning objectives and, even when they do, the quiz questions don’t properly correlate. In other words, quiz questions that give a poor indication about whether the learning objectives have been achieved.

One way to avoid this problem is to define your learning objectives, create the quiz questions so they are aligned with the objectives, and then create the content for the e-learning course ensuring it is aligned with the questions.

Assess Risk, Difficulty, and Importance

You can set a passing score once you have written the questions for your quiz, and you are satisfied they are aligned with the learning objectives.

An effective approach for working out the passing score for your quiz is to categorise each question, as not all questions will carry the same weight. Some will be more important, others will be more difficult, and some will represent high levels of risk to your organisation.

Take an e-learning course covering the safe operation of a piece of dangerous machinery compared to an e-learning course on a new software application to improve productivity. In the software application example, answering questions wrong means the learner isn’t fully competent using the application whereas in the dangerous machinery example, getting a question wrong could result in the learner making a mistake in real-world conditions that could end in death or serious injury. Therefore, it makes sense that the passing score for the dangerous machinery e-learning course should be higher than the passing score for the software application.

Other things to factor in when deciding on the passing score of quizzes in your e-learning courses are the level of difficulty and the importance of the information.

Define Your Reasons

Once you have decided on a passing score for your quiz, it is important to be clear about your reasons. This is particularly important if you set a high passing score as there are likely to be consequences for learners who don’t achieve a sufficient result, i.e., they may have to repeat the e-learning course and take the quiz again. It is beneficial to have a clear rationale for the passing score you have set.

Communicate to Learners

The final stage in the process is to make sure you communicate the passing score to learners at the outset of the course, so they know what is expected of them. Again, this is especially important if the passing score is high as learners will need to take greater care as they go through the course to make sure they fully understand all the information that is being presented.

All About Customisation

Setting an accurate, tailored passing score for the quizzes in your e-learning course is about customising the training to your requirements. It is an often-overlooked customisation with many people leaving the default of around 80 percent. However, it is also a customisation option that can deliver real benefits to individual training courses and your overall training strategy, as the results of quizzes will be more relevant both to you and to learners.