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Community Participant

Can't unpublish a quiz (with no student activity)

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I'm trying to unpublish a quiz, but I receive a message that says "Can't unpublish if there are student submissions". I have checked and there has been no activity. Any idea how I can get around this? I have successfully unpublished 2 quizzes, but this one is being tempermental. Thanks for your help.

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43 Replies
Community Contributor

And maybe  @kona ‌ can unmark this as answered....

Community Coach
Community Coach

Technically (and unfortunately) I think my answer is still correct. The best thing you can do in this situation is contact Canvas Support and/or re-create the quiz. 

Community Contributor

I can see your point, particularly since we just got this response from Canvas Support: " Regardless is the submission is in preview mode or not, Canvas still recognizes the submission and wont let you unpublish the assignment". I'm going to submit a Feature Idea to either not permit Submission in Preview or not count this kind of submission as a real Submission for purposes of preventing unpublishing. See here: 

Community Coach
Community Coach


Community Member

I am the instructional designer from Oregon State (mentioned above  @fosterl ) who contacted Canvas Support about this. There is now a tracking number attached.

I was told by Support that you cannot un-publish quizzes that have submissions, even if you are in Preview mode. So, as far as I can tell, this is not seen as a bug. At the very least, some kind of warning is in order if you try to submit in Preview mode, I would think.

I exported, then re-imported the quiz and all is well now. But I have no control over whether the instructors I work with click Preview, then submit, except to warn them all.

I Voted for Lindy's feature idea submission.

Community Participant

I voted for Lindy's Feature Idea as well. Smiley Happy

Community Champion

I voted up to this, as well, and here's why this is doubly annoying: 'way back in 2015 a bug fix was indicated in the Release Notes that fixed a previously-existing bug that anything submitted in Student View could not be unpublished.  With the bug fix, resetting the student would allow this to work.  Here it is:

Test Student Reset

Resetting the test student removes all associated submissions for an assignment and allows the assignment to be unpublished.


Explanation: When submitting an assignment as a test student and then resetting the test students, instructors were not able to unpublish the assignment. Canvas code has been updated to remove all associated assignment submissions when the test student is reset.

(Fixed Bugs from the Release Notes of March 14, 2015)  Now, understand that this was for Assignments and I realize that PREVIEW for a Quiz is completely different from using the Test Student view for an Assignment, but it's a similar line of thinking, so I would hope that Instructure would view this behavior as a bug to fix rather that this being a Feature Idea.  At the very least, let's hope the new quiz engine fixes this behavior.

Community Champion

So I still think this is a bug (from my foggy memory), thanks for the 2015 information @kblack ‌, I meant to look back at this and did find my notes.

From the Release Notes of 3/12/16 it seems like there was a deliberate change to fix this so the Preview would not generate a submission.  Canvas removed the "Take Quiz" button and left only the Preview for clarity.  But please let me know if I'm reading this incorrectly. 

Instructor Quiz Previews

Instructors can only preview quizzes in Canvas. Previewing a quiz allows instructors to complete a quiz the same way that students will complete the quiz, including submitting the quiz. However, an official quiz submission is never created in Canvas.



  • For file upload questions, instructors can simulate uploading a file, but the actual file is not uploaded into the quiz.
  • This change does not apply in the Canvas by Instructure app.
  • This change applies to any user with a comparative or higher role, including admins.

release-notes-bug-fix-icon.png This feature resolves a fixed bug in Canvas.

Explanation: When an instructor took a quiz, the instructor was no longer able to manage the quiz, such as unpublishing the quiz. Additionally, the instructor’s attempt was logged in quiz statistics and the Gradebook history, and the instructor received a graded notification in the Course Navigation menu that could not be removed. These behaviors occurred because Canvas did not differentiate quiz submissions by user role. Canvas code has been updated to only allow instructors to preview a quiz.

So hopefully this will be resolved more quickly as a bug.  

- Melanie

Community Participant

I was trying to make changes to a published quiz (no student activity). The system would not let me save the changes. I then tried to unpublish it - no luck. I then tried to delete it - still no luck. I had not previewed the quiz, but had manually entered, then removed, a grade for the quiz for the Test Student in the Gradebook. I tried resetting the Test Student in Settigs > Student View (even though there was no longer a grade showing for this quiz in Test Student). All grades for the Test Student were removed from the Gradebook, but I am still unable to change/unpublish/delete the published quiz. Is the newest release preventing changes to quizzes once they have been published?

Community Participant

I've been able to reproduce this behavior by creating an open response quiz, then previewing it and submitting responses.