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Community Champion

Error in import of quiz question with multiple dropdown

If I import a survey with a multiple dropdown question, rather than getting the dropdown in the preview I get "[ans]" (the string in the quiz text). However, if I edit the quiz question - simply clicking on "Update question", then say the quiz - it works properly.

Error in first question

The question is:

The question itself

After updating question (no actual changes, just click the Update question button) and saving the quiz the preview shows:

After updating and saving

10 Replies
Community Champion

 @maguire , can you provide more details about the Import? Was this an import for a quiz exported from Canvas, a import from another course, a quiz exported from a different package, a question creation using the API, ??? Does it happen all the time? Is it only for surveys, but graded quizzes work? Is it only when there is one dropdown in the question? 

I was able to go through course settings / copy course content and import a quiz containing several all multiple dropdown questions from one course into another, but they all had more than one drop down and it was a graded quiz, not a survey. But that's just one variation of what might be happening so I may be way off from what you're seeing.

Community Champion

 @James , It fails when using either (1) Export course content (which creates a .zip file) followed by Import Course Content or (2) as Import Course content directly from the other course.

If I make the question a "Multiple choice" question it imports correctly.

Interestingly, if I edit the question string to "How would you rate this course? [overall_quality]" from "How would you rate this course [ans]?" and re-enter the answers. I can now export and import this successfully!

Looking at the difference between the two .zip files, does not reveal any unexpected differences.

The .zip files are at  and  .

Community Champion

Thanks for the extra information.

I can confirm what you're seeing. I am also able to replicate this with original questions created on my end, not just importing your questions.

I can also confirm that it happens where there is more than one dropdown box (I just wanted to make sure that wasn't the problem) and a graded quiz, not just a survey. It does not matter if [ans] is the first or last variable in the text of the question.

It does not like [ans] as a variable name.

I went looking for where this might be occurring in the code, but I'm not familiar enough the quizzing portion to identify what was going on. I imagine it's in the import routines since it works fine through the web interface.

I have had problems with the multiple dropdowns showing all of the answers to the students after they have completed it in the past. I thought I would look to see if this was the problem. It turns out that we did not have any multiple dropdown questions that used [ans] in them.

It seems like it could be reported to Canvas as a bug. In the meantime, the quick, although not ideal, fix is to not use [ans] in a multiple dropdown question.

Community Champion

 @James , thanks for confirming this. I have previously ask the KTH teacher support group to report it to Instucture. (No word yet on a tracking number.)

Community Coach
Community Coach

Hello  @maguire ...

I have been reviewing older questions here in the Canvas Community, and I stumbled upon your question.  I noticed that there hasn't been any new activity in this topic since your last response on March 18, 2018.  It looks like you and  @James  have been troubleshooting the issue(s) you have been having with quiz imports.  Do you feel that your question has been answered?  Are there any remaining question or concerns that you have about this topic?  If so, please feel free to post an update for us below.  Or, if you feel that James has helped to answer your question, please feel free to mark one of his responses as "Correct".  For now, I am going to mark this question as "Assumed Answered" because there hasn't been any new activity here for almost four months.  However, that won't prevent you or others from posting additional questions and/or comments below that are related to this topic.  I hope that's alright with you, Gerald.  Looking forward to hearing back from you soon!

Community Champion

As  far as I know it is still a bug.

Community Member

April 2021, and this is still a problem. Just as the above posters mention, editing an imported question and "Updating Question" (while making no other changes) fixes the issue. Using any other variable name fixes the issue. Can Instructure fix this? This should not be "Assumed Answered" @chofer 

Good evening, @anon_admin ...

I'm not sure if you regularly visit the Canvas Community website or not, but I think it would help to provide a bit of context for you...

This question was originally posted just over three years ago.  At the time, @James was trying to help @maguire come up with a solution.  Then, a few months went by without any activity in the topic, and so one of the things I was doing was visiting older topics to see if the OP (Original Poster) still needed help with the question or if he had found a solution since his initial posting.  Back in 2018, the Canvas Community website was running on a platform called Jive.  In Summer of 2020, Instructure migrated the Community to a new platform by Khoros.  In the Jive platform, we had the ability to mark answers as "Correct" or "Assumed Answered".  I used the "Assumed Answered" often when significant time had passed where the conversation appeared to stall ... hoping that the OP had found a solution.  Now that the current Community site runs via the Khoros platform, the "Assumed Answered" label is no longer present.  (In the Khoros platform, we can now mark responses as a "Solution", and doing so will place a green border around a response and display it directly under the OP's question.  You can see in this topic that no response has been marked as a "Solution".)  So, although my reply from back in July 2018 does indicate that I had marked the reply as "Assumed Answered", that only applied to when the Community was still running on the Jive platform.  It no longer applies in the current Khoros platform.

As far as Instructure fixing this issue... I don't believe that Instructure (the company that makes Canvas) is spending lots of time doing work on current/Classic Quizzes (which is what the screenshots from the OP show).  Rather, they are now focusing more of their time on New Quizzes.  Do you have New Quizzes available in your school's Canvas environment?  If not, I would suggest that you reach out to your school's local Canvas administrator or someone from your school's Online Learning/eLearning department to see what the plan is for rolling out New Quizzes at your school.  We have not yet enabled New Quizzes at my school, so I don't have a lot of experience with using the various question types...only some testing here and there.  There are a bunch of written Guides on New Quizzes that might be of help to you.

I hope this information has been helpful to you.  Sing out if you have any other questions about this...thanks!  Take well.

Community Champion


Unfortunately, Canvas' New Quizzes is not a good solution as it lacks an API to be able to insert questions and do other work programmatically. I encountered the problem several years ago when there was only the old quiz functionality and I was taking questions via a program from another LMS and automatically inserting them into Canvas courses.

I still have code that inserts questions into a course based upon information that has been gathered by a program (in this case accessing one of our administrative systems) so as to be able to create a quiz as a survey. Until New Quizzes has an API for working with it, I am sticking with the classic quiz functionality.