With the exception of project courses, MDS courses will typically have two quizzes throughout the block, typically one in the middle of the course and another after the course ends during the free days between blocks. The quizzes for a course will appear on the MDS calendar (ideally before the course starts) so that students are aware of the timing. We anticipate most quizzes being 30 minutes 40 minutes long.

2020-2021 changes: Students will have 40 minutes to complete quizzes to account for internet connectivity issues, etc. We will keep the same number/length of the questions (i.e., they won’t be made 33% longer to use up 33% more time).


The purpose of quizzes are to be a “sanity check” that students are keeping up with the essential material. While labs may go more in-depth into a topic, the quizzes cover essential material that we expect students to have mastered and to retain.


In light of the purpose above, quizzes are intended to be less difficult than the labs. They are not meant to trick you nor to contain unexpected material. In short, if you did the labs without an unreasonable amount of collaboration with your classmates, you should succeed on the quizzes.


Quizzes will typically be through Canvas. Unlike labs, quizzes will be performed within a defined time period and will be supervised by MDS instructional staff.

Upon arriving to the quiz room:

1. If the quiz is being held in lab, you must attend your designated lab section. 2. Sign the attendance sheet, that the TA or lab instructor has.

At the start of the quiz period:

  1. Go to https://canvas.ubc.ca, and log in with your CWL.
  2. Navigate to the relevant quiz on the relevant course page.
  3. Begin the quiz, fill out your answers, and click “submit”. You will have a countdown timer to complete the quiz.
  4. Wait quietly until the quiz time slot finishes. The TA or lab instructor will specify when the quiz period is finished.

2020-2021 changes: Quizzes will not be supervised.


When we set up a quiz on Canvas, we specify a start time, end time, and duration. For example, if a quiz is at 9:00am, we might set the start time to 9:00am, the end time to 9:35 9:45, and the duration to 30 min 40 min. That means you have 30 min 40 min to complete the quiz within the 35-minute 45-minute window from 9:00 to 9:35 9:45. Individual instructors may vary this slightly but the window will generally be at least 2 minutes longer than the quiz duration itself. In general, we recommend you start the quiz within 2 minutes of the quiz period starting, so that you have the full length of time to write your quiz.

2020-2021 changes: Quizzes will generally be 40 minutes within a 45-minute window.

Closed-book (ignore for 2020-2021)

Unless otherwise specified, quizzes will be closed-book except for offline documentation only (e.g., help in RStudio and Jupyter notebook). This means that during the quiz students are expected to:

  • not use the internet to solve questions on the quiz
  • not bring any materials into the quiz that would be of assistance in completing the quiz (aside from a laptop)
  • not open other files inside RStudio or Jupyter beyond those provided in the quiz repo
  • not leave the quiz room early with your laptop, and not come back into the quiz room after leaving (other than for purposes such as using the washroom)

You are allowed to consult documentation within R/Python or your IDE (e.g., RStudio). However, time is very limited on quizzes and we anticipate that you will be more successful if you are fluent with common functions and don’t need to rely too heavily on the documentation.

No collaboration

You may not communicate with other students or anyone else, through any medium, at any time during the quiz. You may not communicate with any of your classmates until everyone is finished the quiz. Please don’t post about MDS quizzes on Slack until at least 30 minutes after the end of the quiz, in case some students were given extra time.

For 2020-21 only: this year we will be offering the quizzes at two time slots to accommodate students in a range of time zones. You may not discuss the quizzes with anyone until after the second quiz (Session B) is complete. Please do not start discussing the quiz 30 minutes after Session A.

General Guidelines

There is rarely a need to write more than two brief sentences for any given question.

Special Circumstances

I cannot submit the quiz!

Take screen shots of your completed quiz, and send them through Slack to the lab instructor of the course before the end of the quiz period.

I’m finished the quiz early (ignore for 2020-21)

Wait quietly with your laptop closed/ajar until the end of the quiz period.

I need to use the washroom

Just leave your laptop in the quiz room.

2020-2021 changes: You can take your laptop with you if you really want…

Instructions for TAs (does not apply for 2020-21)

  1. Go to the classroom at least 5 mins before the quiz time.
  2. Bring a blank sheet of paper with you. Pass it around a couple of minutes before the quiz starts and ask the students to write their name on it. You can hand it or take a picture and send it to us later.
  3. Try to walk around and make sure that at least one of the TAs stays at the back of the classroom.
  4. Report to us if you observe any form of academic dishonesty or chatting in the classroom.
  5. Ask the students to stay in the classroom for the full time even after they are done. (If students start leaving the classroom it can be distracting for other students.)
  6. If you encounter issues during the quiz, inform the lab instructor through Slack.