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Community Member

1 step algebra equations using formula questions

Using the Formula question on quizzes can I get it to generate multiple 1 step and 2 step algebra equations

ex 2x + 1 = 10   (answer x = 9/2)

Can it generate similar problems without me typing in more problems

Such as it could create 3x -1 = 11 (answer x = 4)

15 Replies
Community Member

That depends a bit on how hard you want the equations to be.  For example, I could set up an algebra question like this:

[a]x + [b] = [c], then set the variables a, b, and c to be integers.  That could end up with some problems that are quite messy and others that are quite simple, although you could check through the generated possibilities and redo it if the options are too varied.  I'd be happy to answer further questions about the challenges/advantages of this approach.


I'm not sure what the question is, but I fear the simple answer is "no". There's often a work-around, though.

If your question is can I use formula questions to generate a bunch of similar questions, the answer is 'yes' (I imagine you already knew that since you asked about formula questions).

You could easily make a formula question

   Solve for x: [a]x+[b]=[c]

and generate 20, 50, even 100 versions of it.

But that would only show up as one question on the quiz. You can't say "Use this question 5 times".  If you want your quiz to have five of those questions, you'll have to do more work.

The work-around is to make multiple copies of the question. There are various ways to accomplish that, I've used question banks. Others have used Canvas Commons. I don't have the particulars and I'm not sure if that's what you're asking. In general, for something this short, it's normally quicker to just create the questions separately - especially when you consider the second item at play.

The other issue you might be asking about is that your two examples cannot be generated by a single question.

   Solve for x: [a]x-[b]=[c]

Is a different question than

   Solve for x: [a]x+[b]=[c]

For those who know a little about math, they don't seem so different, but there is no way in Canvas to do simplifications, and so if you want a subtraction problem, you'll need to pick [b] > 0 and then manually put the subtraction symbol in the problem. If you let [b] be negative, then you would get something like '3x+-2=10'. And if you tried to allow positive or negative values of [b], it would include 0, so you could get '3x+0=10', which is probably not what you want.

Community Member

Great point about the copies!  That's why I like to make these types of formula questions in a general question bank, then copy them into the bank where I want multiple copies (making sure to check the box to keep a copy in the general bank).  I then go into the specific bank and edit the ranges, signs, or other details as desired.  Sometimes, all I'll do is just generate a new answer set for each question.  I find it's faster for me to do that each time versus creating the questions separately, but everyone is a little different with what parts they are slow/fast at.


Thanks for providing that extra insight‌, I was in spot between classes and didn't have time for a complete answer.

Community Member

I know how that gets!  I felt your answer was very good, in spite of the time limitations.

Community Member

I  put 

Solve for x:[a]x+[b]=[c] in the question.

I tried putting same thing and in formula definition, but couldn't get it to generate answers.

So what goes in the formula definition to get the program to generate possible solutions

Highlighted‌, enter this as the last formula:


Do not put brackets around the variables in the formula. That is, do not type: ([c]-[b])/[a]


What about using fraction answers instead of decimal??


Canvas does not currently support numeric answers in fraction form -- either with Formula questions or Numeric questions. Students will have to enter their answers as decimals.

If you absolutely need fraction answers, then use a fill-in-the-blank question. Be aware that there is no numerical comparison done there for equivalency. So 2/3, 4/6, 6/9, and -2/-3 are all 2/3, but Canvas would only accept answers that you put in as correct. And if you put in 2/3, it would not accept 0.7, 0.67, 0.667, 0.6667, or 0.666666666667.  There is no way to generate random questions with fill-in-the-blank, though, so you would have to enter each question separately, which defeats the purpose of what you're trying to accomplish. If I'm not clear enough, I don't recommend this approach.

If you find this deficient, which most math and science people do, please visit‌ and read through the material there. A quick glance of the related feature requests did not show where this functionality was being included Smiley Sad. In general, the lack of support of math and science questions in Canvas is extremely limited right now.