Quiz Tools

Create a quiz, survey, or self-assessment, review the results, and see class statistics.

Understanding Regular Expressions in the Quiz Questions

This is a guide on the basics of regular expressions and how to use them in quiz questions on VU Collaborate. Using regular expressions gives an instructor the ability to evaluate various combinations of student inputs to questions. 


What are Regular Expressions?

When creating quizzes in VU Collaborate, regular expressions give instructors grading some quiz questions the ability to evaluate responses against a set of acceptable values. 

It is often convenient to use a regular expression instead of specifying a separate answer for each possibility to include:

  • multiple possible answers
  • common English spelling differences
  • match the position at the beginning and the end of student answers
  • etc

For example, if we want to allow the answers "gray" and "grey" to the question "What colour paint do we get when we mix black paint with white paint?", we could use the regular expression


where the [a|e] part matches either a or e. Both gray and grey would be flagged as correct answers.

You can choose to use regular expressions in short answers, multi-short answers, arithmetic, significant figures, and fill-in-the-blank questions. 


Step One: Create a quiz question

To use regular expressions in a quiz, select and create one of the questions below:


Step Two: Select the Regular Expression option

When entering your question details such as answers, you are given the option to use Regular Expressions.

Option 1: For Short Answer question type.

Select Regular Expression from the dropdown answer menu.

re blank answers

Option 2: For multi-short answers, arithmetic, significant figures, and fill-in-the-blanks question types.

Select Regular Expression from the Evaluation field.

re blank answers option2


Step Three: Enter answer details and examples

Below are some examples of how Regular Expressions can be used when building your quiz questions.


Regular Expression Characters descriptions and functions (Meta-characters)
Access the Characters used in regular expressions to view all of the regular expression characters with their associated description and examples: 
Characters used in regular expressions - Brightspace guide



Regular Expressions Formatting Issues

The only drawback of using regular expressions within quiz questions is case-sensitive answers.

For example, if the regular expression in the answer box contains gr[a|e]y:

 Correct/Acceptable Answers Incorrect Answers







In case you need the answers to be case-insensitive, it is recommended to use Case Insensitive as an evaluation option, then provide other alternative answers if required.

re case insensitive option


Further Support

Contact us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., for information and resources on technology-enhanced learning, or visit VUCollaborateHelp.vu.edu.au.
Contact ITS Service Desk on (03) 9919 2777 or via self-service servicedesk.vu.edu.au for technical support.


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