Count Responses With Syntax Errors As Submissions for a Section

Student responses to numerical or math questions that can't be graded because of syntax errors — for example, 2* — are never scored as correct. However, you can choose whether or not to count these responses toward students' used submissions when question part submission is allowed.

Note Responses with syntax errors are always counted as submissions when assignment or question submission is required.

Syntax Errors

Syntax errors can occur in responses to numerical, symbolic, and algebraic questions, and often include the following kinds of incorrect notation.

Question Mode Problem Incorrect Notation Correct Notation
Any Incorrect grouping operator. 4{x+3} 4(x+3)
Any Missing operand. 50* 50*3
Any Too many consecutive operators. x++++2 x+2
Any Unrecognized symbol. .00




Numerical Misspelled unit. 3456 met/sec 3456 m/s
Numerical Response cannot contain variables. 2*x+3 2*10+3
Numerical Response cannot use implicit multiplication. 3(14) 3*14
Symbolic or Algebraic Comma in number. 5,000 5000

When your students submit responses containing these kinds of errors, a message is shown indicating either that the response contains a syntax error or cannot be evaluated. If you are using question part submission and do not count syntax errors as submissions, your students' used submissions is not increased for question parts with syntax errors.


Submitting a matching question with unfilled answer blanks causes correct matches to be scored incorrectly. To reduce this issue's effect on student scores, consider using multiple choice instead of matching mode.

Default Behaviors

The default class settings do not count syntax errors as submissions when question part submission is used.

By default, new assignments do not override the class settings for syntax errors. 

Tip To change this default behavior, create an assignment template that overrides the class settings and set it as your default template.
You can change these behaviors for your classes or for your assignments. Your assignment settings override your class settings. You can specify different behaviors for numerical, symbolic, or algebraic questions.
Best Practice Do not change assignments that your students are already working on. You are likely to cost your students points, submissions, or both. Instead, consider creating a copy of the scheduled assignment and making your changes to the copy.

If you must change a scheduled assignment, notify your students of the change and rescore the assignment. See Rescore Assignments.

  1. Open the Class Settings page.

    From My Classes, click Edit Class Settings.

  2. In the Class Settings page, click Advanced Options.
  3. Under Syntax Errors, select or clear on numerical questions, on symbolic questions, or on algebraic questions.
    These options apply only when question part submission is selected. When assignment or question submission is required, syntax errors are always counted as submissions.
  4. Click Save.