Importing Quiz Questions Using the Aiken Format into OnCourse

How do I import multiple choice questions from Word or another text editor into OnCourse?

Step-by-step guide

The Aiken format is a very simple way of creating multiple choice questions using a clear human-readable format in a text file.


  1. The question must be all on one line.
  2. Each answer must start with a single uppercase letter, followed by a period '.' or a bracket ')', then a space.
  3. The answer line must immediately follow, starting with "ANSWER: " (NOTE the space after the colon and all capital letters) and then giving the appropriate letter.

Important Notes:

  1. You have to save the file in a text format. Importing as a Word document will not work.

  2. Non-ASCII characters like 'quotes' can cause import errors. To avoid this always save your text file in UTF-8 format (most text editors, even Word, will ask you).

  3. The answer letters (A,B,C etc.) and the word "ANSWER" must be capitalized as shown below, otherwise the import will fail.


What is the correct answer to this question?

A. Is it this one?
B. Maybe this answer?
C. Possibly this one?
D. Must be this one!

What color is the sky?
A) Blue
B) Red
C) Green
D) Purple
E) Black
F) Orange

Saving in .TXT or UTF-8 File Formats:

  1. Complete the questions using Microsoft Word, following the directions above.
  2. In Word, choose File, Save As.
  3. In the “Save as type” drop down menu choose “Plain Text.”
    Save file as plain text
  4. In the “File Conversion” pop-up box choose “Other encoding” and Unicode (UTF-8).
  5. Press OK.

In the file conversion text box choose other encoding UTF-8 and then press Ok

Create a Category in OnCourse to use for Importing Questions

  1. After logging into your course, locate the green gear icon on the upper right hand side of the page. 
  2. Click on the drop-down arrow.   Select More
    Press the drop down arrow, scroll down and choose More
  3. On the next screen, click on Categories.  

Choose categories to create an import category in the question bank

4. The next screen is the Categories tab. Scroll down and give your category a name, and then press Add category. We recommend naming the category something you will easily recognize when you import the questions.

Give your category a name and then press Add category

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