Answers That Cannot Be Understood

If your answer contains one or more syntax errors that prevent WebAssign from being able to grade it, WebAssign displays the message Your answer cannot be understood or graded. Depending on your instructor, answers with syntax errors might be counted as incorrect submissions.

Often, the problem is a simple typographical error that is easy to spot and correct. After correcting the error, submit your answer again.

  • If your answer is not counted as a submission, it is also not stored by WebAssign. This means that after certain actions, like closing and reopening the assignment or submitting an answer for a different question, your answers with syntax errors are no longer displayed in the assignment.
  • Copying text from anywhere and pasting it in an answer box will result in an error. You must type your response using the keyboard or the tools provided.

Common Errors

Some of the most common errors are listed here.

Problem Incorrect Correct
Brackets or braces instead of parentheses. 4*{x+3} 4*(x+3)
Unpaired parentheses. (1+2)+3) ((1+2)+3)
Missing part of the expression. 50* 50*3
Too many consecutive operators. x++++2 x+2
Unrecognized symbol. $4.00




Errors Specific to Numerical Questions

The following errors are common in questions that require you to enter a number with or without a unit.

Problem Incorrect Correct
Misspelled unit. 3456 met/sec 3456 m/s
Specifying a unit when none is required.
Note: If displayed, check the answer format tip to see if units are required.
3 m 3
Numerical answers cannot contain variables. 2*x+3 2*10+3
Numerical answers cannot use implicit multiplication. 3(14) 3*14
Numerical answers must use ** to specify exponents. 2^3 2**3

Errors Specific to mathPad, calcPad, and physPad Questions

The following errors are common in mathPad, calcPad, or physPad questions, as well as older symbolic questions that require calculator notation.

Problem Incorrect Correct
Incorrect variables. Variable names are case-sensitive (x is not the same as X).

If the question specifies Greek letters or symbols such as ℓ, do not substitute English letters.







Comma in number. 5,000 5000
Do not use ** to specify exponents. 2**3 23


Note: In mathPad, calcPad, or physPad, typing 2^3 displays 23.
Do not use uppercase E in scientific notation. 1.2E15 1.2e15