• 19 Jan 2023
  • 2 Minutes to read
  • Contributors
  • Dark
  • PDF


  • Dark
  • PDF

Article Summary

You can create Essay questions in Cirrus. Simply go to your Library, create or open a collection and click ‘+ Add’ or use the drop-down arrow to select this question type. You will be presented with the screen below.

The Essay question is an open question type that allows the candidate to provide a longer, free text answer to a question. You can visualise the limit on the number of words the candidate can write. And you can upload a marking scheme for the marker. (This question type cannot be computer marked).

Enter the Title

Write down your Item title here. This is for internal use only; this title will be visible in your Library and further in the process. This title is not visible for candidates taking their exam.

Enter the question

Click inside the text box to enter (or edit) your question. Use the text editor for a range of text editing options.

Resource & Media file

'Add Resource' or 'Add Media file' buttons are available. Also see our article 'How to add & use Media Elements'.

Enter the marking scheme

Use this box to enter the marking scheme. This information will only be visible to the marker(s) assessing this question.

This question type cannot be marked automatically. Using this question in an exam will result in a simple or extended marking workflow. 

Text options

You can set the maximum number of words candidates can use for their answer by entering a value in the box provided. If nothing is entered there will be no maximum. If a maximum is entered the candidate can still type more, but the system will show that the maximum has been exceeded to both the marker and the candidate.

  • Use the tick box to 'enable rich text editor for the candidate'.
  • Use the tick-box to 'enable spell checker for [the] candidate'.

Set maximum score for this question

You will also have to set a maximum score for the question. Simply enter a number into the box.While marking Essay questions assessors are allowed to use decimals, example 1.5.

Safe, close, preview & cancel

  • Click the ‘Save’ button to save the item.
  • Click ‘Save and Close’ if you wish to return to your collection overview.
  • You can use the ‘Preview’ button to see what the question will look like to the candidate and make sure that the correct answer receives the correct marks.
  • Hit 'Cancel' to exit the question editor. You will be see a warning about saving the page, otherwise your data will get lost.

Criteria tab

Adding criteria based marking using criterion and subcriterion

You can set up custom criteria based marking for Essay and File Upload questions. we introduce. This functionality allows you to define your own criteria and subcriteria within the questions. 

These criteria will be used to score this question during the marking process.

Extra notes on uploading

If candidates need to copy content from another application (e.g. from MS Word, Excel) into Cirrus, please be aware that your candidates need to be able to access their file for uploading. If they are taking high-stakes summative assessments, this might be disabled for security reasons - i.e. they won’t be able to access storage media (like an USB drive) or online sources.

Was this article helpful?