Managing Assessments’ Time Limits in LAMS

Chelsea Bullock
4 min readDec 8, 2020


Managing the time duration required for the student to complete an exam is always tricky business. Getting it right, particularly when running exams online, it’s more than an art than a science.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Some important factors that affect time duration to the exam are

  • Time modality, whether the exam is to be conducted in a synchronous or asynchronous fashion.
  • Complexity, how difficult the questions appear to be to the students, what type of question are used (essays, MCQs, VSAs).
  • Assessment purpose, is this a formative or summative assessment?
  • Legal, some students might require extra time to complete an assessment due to special needs, disabilities or simply because the student was running late.

After a thorough consideration of these factors and others, we believed that LAMS had to offer flexibility to address these, so here is what we implemented:

Everyone gets the same time length (relative from when they start)

This is the time limit that we always had available in LAMS. For instance, when authoring any assessment activity, you can specify how much time each student will have to complete the exam, say: 10 minutes.

Now these 10 minutes will apply from the moment the student begins the assessment.

Therefore, everyone gets 10 minutes but at different times. This way to set up timing limit is great if you are running an asynchronous assessment.

Setting relative time duration in Assessment Monitoring

However, the assessment tools offer flexibility to modify this relative timings. So if you believe that 10 minutes is too much time, you can change it and this change will automatically apply to students currently doing the assessment and for students that are yet to start.

You manage these changes in increments/decrements of 1 or 5 minutes.

If you don’t want to apply relative time duration, you can always cancel the timing all together and students will not longer be bound to time restrictions.

Hard time limits

When you are running a synchronous assessment -when all the students are doing the assessment at the same time -whether this is online or face-to-face in the classroom, you might want to set a hard deadline for it (ie: ‘Let’s get everyone the assessment in 2 minutes’).

Unlike the relative time limit before, now you are able to set a hard deadline in minutes.

Setting hard time limits in Assessment Monitoring

When you set a hard time limit, you specify how many minutes left you want the students to have and then Start the timer.

All students performing the assessment will automatically see a countdown timer showing the time left.

You can increase or decrease the allotted time by lots of one or five minutes, giving you plenty of flexibility.

Tip: To better know how much time left the student might need, you can take a look at the students’ progression in the assessment. If about half of the students have already completed the assessment, you might want to add just two more minutes for the rest to complete it.

Once the time expires, all student responses will be saved up until the point when the time expires and the assessment will automatically be completed.

However, sometimes a student might have arrived late, so you might need to grant exceptions…

Time extension

As mentioned before, on occasion, you might need to give students special time extensions based on certain circumstances. In these cases, you can grant a particular student or group (in the case the assessment is to be performed as a group — think Team-based Learning’s Application Exercises).

Setting time extension for students in Assessment Monitoring

These extensions are additions to the previous two time limits.

For instance if you are have given all students 10 minutes from their relative start of the assessment, you can grant a single student (or group) an extra 10 minutes (adding a total of 20 minutes) to finish the assessment.

If you have set up a hard time assessment, then you can grant a student an extra number of minutes for him/her to complete the assessment.

These time extensions provide a very powerful tool to manage time limits for students with special needs that might require extra time to complete an assessment.



Chelsea Bullock

I’m a Communication Manager and Outreach Officer at LAMS (Learning Designer App).