WebAssign

Significant Figure Checking in WebAssign

Enabling significant figure checking does not make every question check significant figures.

Many textbook questions, even in physics and chemistry, do not specify significant figures. If the questions on your assignment do not specify significant figures in the answer key, changing significant figure checking options will have no effect.

To determine whether the questions on your assignment specify significant figures, see Identify Questions That Check Significant Figures.

By default, new assignments do not override the class settings for significant figure checking. 

Tip To change this default behavior, create an assignment template that overrides the class settings and set it as your default template.
The default class settings enable the following behaviors for questions that specify significant figures in the answer key:
  • Significant figure checking is enabled.
  • These questions display the sigfigs icon sigfigs icon, and it links to information about entering significant figures in WebAssign.
  • Tolerance for these questions is ±1 at the last significant digit, if the answer key specifies that at least 2 digits are significant. If only 1 digit is significant, responses must specify the correct answer exactly.
  • No partial credit is awarded for responses that do not specify the correct number of significant figures.
  • Commas are not allowed to separate digits in student answers.

You can change these behaviors for your classes or for your assignments. Your assignment settings override your class settings.

Checking Significant Figures

If significant figure checking is turned on, questions that specify significant figures in the answer key are treated differently from other numerical questions based on the significant figure checking options that are set.

If significant figure checking is turned off, questions that specify significant figures in the answer key are treated like numerical questions and all other significant figure checking options are turned off.

Significant Figures Help

If enabled, the sigfigs icon sigfigs icon helps your students identify answer boxes for which significant figures are checked. If answer format tips are also enabled, the answer format tips instruct students to use the correct number of significant figures. Your students are not given information about how many significant figures to specify.

Tip If answer format tips are enabled but the sigfigs icon is not, your students will not see answer format tips for questions that check for significant figures. If you think that the absence of answer format tips for some questions will inform your students that significant figures are checked, you can hide all answer format tips for the assignment.

If enabled, the sigfigs icon sigfigs icon links to the student help topic with information about entering significant figures in WebAssign.

Significant Figures Tolerance

When significant figure checking is turned on, questions that specify significant figures in the answer key use a different tolerance value than other numerical questions. In order to reflect the precision with which the answer should be specified, the tolerance for significant figure questions is specified as the value by which the last significant digit can differ from the key and still be considered to be correct. The following table illustrates this concept.

Answer Key

Correct Responses (Tolerance is ±1)

Correct Responses (Tolerance is ±2)

4100 4.0e3, 4100, 4200 3900, 4.0e3, 4100, 4200, 4300
12.28 12.27, 12.28, 12.29 12.26, 12.27, 12.28, 12.29, 12.30
0.04 0.04
Note If the question sets the number of significant figures to 1, the exact answer must be specified regardless of tolerance.
0.04
Note If the question sets the number of significant figures to 1, the exact answer must be specified regardless of tolerance.

The WebAssign default value is ±1. This allows students to receive credit if their calculation is correct but they have made a small rounding error. All calculations should be done without rounding until final answer is achieved.

The significant figures tolerance set in the assignment or assignment template for the assignment as a whole override all other tolerances.

Partial Credit for Value
When significant figure checking is turned on, you can award partial credit for numerically correct responses that are specified with too many significant figures. No credit is awarded for responses that specify too few significant figures.