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Community Participant

Canvas says I "can't unpublish a quiz with student submissions" that hasn't been published

Let's look at one fantastically frustrating example...

First let's go to quizzes on the left navigation panel. There are two quizzes, but they can't be "unpublished" because there are students submissions (note that there are NONE, by the way, not even "Test Student" submissions, because the semester hasn't started yet, the "Test Student" didn't take it, and I have "reset" that Test Student just to be sure):

quiz in assignments

Ok, fine, let's go look at the quiz...

quiz in quiz view

So, Canvas is telling me in one view that I can't unpublish a quiz because there are student submissions and, in the very next view, that the quiz is unpublished and that only teachers can see it! All while being able to do absolutely nothing to change the publication status because, well, you just can't. And worse, I don't even know if it is published or unpublished because Canvas says it is both. Again: the test student has been reset, but didn't take it in the first place.

This really does capture the fundamentally flawed nature of Canvas quizzing in general but the broken previewing and "Test Student" aspects in particular.

There is NO rational explanation for why the status of a quiz would be completely inconsistently described by Canvas. However, I'm 99% confident that the reason for this complete fail is because one of my TAs, PREVIEWED the quiz. Previewing isn't previewing in Canvas-land. It is totally changing the status of a quiz, the editability of quiz and wrecking things.


So my first question, for which I'm sure Canvas has no answer, is why (or WTF)?

My second question is, when will this be fixed? PREVIEW SHOULD NOT DO ANYTHING to change the status, state, view mode, access stats or otherwise affect a quiz.

24 Replies
Community Contributor

I hate when people suggest this to me, but sometimes Canvas (like all programs) gets confused.  Does this problem persist if you log out of Canvas and your browser and then log back in?  Sometimes that is all that it takes.

Community Participant

Identical behavior after logging out and quitting browser, logging back in.

Behavior is also not browser dependent.

Community Contributor

Sorry - that would have been too easy.  I don't know what to tell you, then.  I've made a lot of quizzes and I've never seen this behavior before.  Have you tried moderating it to see 'who' might have taken it?  

Community Participant

There are many threads on this forum describing problems associated with Previewing quizzes that overlap with this. Here's one:

Delete/reset student quiz/assignment submission? 

Moderating the quiz is not possible because it is not published and publishing the quiz is not possible because the publish button is greyed out as an option and can't be selected (see screen shots). Editing the quiz and then clicking the button menu only gives two options: 1) delete, 2) let students take now. Selecting the second asks for a confirmation, but then doesn't appear to do anything to the published status. 

The only recourse here is to delete the quiz and recreate it. I'm 99% sure that if I do that and then Preview it (or have a TA preview it) then we'll be right back to this position.

Community Participant

The general problem can be reproduced easily:

1) Make a new quiz. 

New quiz

2) Preview the quiz from your instructor account IMMEDIATELY after creating and publishing the quiz. Wonderful. You get to see how the quiz works.

3) Edit the quiz, and then get an alert saying a student has taken it. Obviously this is NOT TRUE and the fact that Canvas thinks this causes all kinds of downstream problems.


4) See at least a consistent (YAY!) alert saying you can unpublish because a student has submitted (they haven't):


5) Try to "PREVIEW" quiz again by clicking the giant red preview button, wonderful looks like something is happening.

preview start

6) NOPE SORRY SUCKER! No more preview for you, you just land right back on the same screen, with your last "preview" results in your face because, well, your last preview is treated as a some sacred submission kind of thing, apparently.


Community Contributor

I'm sorry you're having this problem.  I wasn't able to reproduce this issue and I wonder if it has to do with the fact that I'm not using Mastering pathways.  I really don't know. I did find two threads here that had a couple of suggestions.  and

Good luck.

Community Participant

There are no mastering pathways or other complexities set up. Just a quiz.

The fact that this is not reproducible is even more disturbing than the problem itself. Are there multiple versions of Canvas in the wild?

Hi  @peters1 ,

Please report/forward this to Canvas support in order for this to be investigated.


Kevin Dougherty

Assoc. Product Manager, Assessments


Community Participant

How do I do that? Can this thread simply be forwarded. There is good documentation to reproduce and it should be sufficient.