Typesetting exams in LaTeX
Exams can be easily created in LaTeX by means of the class exam.cls. This class makes it straightforward to typeset questions, and it sets a 1in margin in all paper sizes and provides special commands to write and compute grades. This article explains how to edit with exam.cls.
Contents
Introduction
Let's see a simple working example of the exam class:
\documentclass{exam}
\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}
\begin{document}
\begin{center}
\fbox{\fbox{\parbox{5.5in}{\centering
Answer the questions in the spaces provided. If you run out of room
for an answer, continue on the back of the page.}}}
\end{center}
\vspace{5mm}
\makebox[\textwidth]{Name and section:\enspace\hrulefill}
\vspace{5mm}
\makebox[\textwidth]{Instructor’s name:\enspace\hrulefill}
\begin{questions}
\question Is it true that \(x^n + y^n = z^n\) if \(x,y,z\) and \(n\) are
positive integers?. Explain.
\question Prove that the real part of all nontrivial zeros of the function
\(\zeta(z)\) is \(\frac{1}{2}\)
\question Compute \[\int_{0}^{\infty} \frac{\sin(x)}{x}\]
\end{questions}
To use the exam class you must put the line
\documentclass{exam}
on top of your .tex file. This will enable the package's examrelated commands, and set the page format to allow margins for corrections.
The syntax of the questions
environment is very similar to that of the itemize
and enumerate
environments. Each question is typed by putting the command \question
before it.
The other commands in this example are not specific to the exam class, but may be useful to create a quick header for your exam.
Open an example of the exam class in Overleaf
Creating new questions
In the previous section, a basic example showing how to create question was presented. Questions can be further customized, and this section explains how.
spacing
If the students are required to answer the exam in the space provided, that space can be manually set or evenly distributed. See the example below:
\begin{questions}
\question Is it true that \(x^n + y^n = z^n\) if \(x,y,z\) and \(n\) are positive integers?. Explain.
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\question Prove that the real part of all nontrivial zeros of the function \(\zeta(z)\) is \(\frac{1}{2}\)
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\question Compute \[\int_{0}^{\infty} \frac{\sin(x)}{x}\]
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\end{questions}
\clearpage
In this example the command \vspace{\stretch{1}}
after each question equally distributes the available space.
The command \clearpage
inserts a page break point to continue typing questions in a new page.
If you want to manually assign the space to each question, use the command \vspace{}
and in between the braces write the units of space you need. For instance, \vspace{1in}
inserts a 1inch vertical space. Check the documentation about lenghts in LaTeX for a list of available units.
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subparts
If your questions have several parts focused on some subtopics you can use the environments parts
, subparts
, subsubparts
and the corresponding commands \part
, \subpart
and \subsubpart
. See the next example:
\begin{questions}
\question Given the equation \(x^n + y^n = z^n\) for \(x,y,z\) and \(n\) positive
integers.
\begin{parts}
\part For what values of $n$ is the statement in the previous question true?
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\part For $n=2$ there's a theorem with a special name. What's that name?
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\part What famous mathematician had an elegant proof for this theorem but
there was not enough space in the margin to write it down?
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\begin{subparts}
\subpart Who actually proved the theorem?
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\subpart How long did actually take to solve this problem?
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\end{subparts}
\end{parts}
\question Prove that the real part of all nontrivial zeros of the function
\(\zeta(z)\) is \(\frac{1}{2}\)
...
\end{questions}
The environments parts
and subparts
provide questionlike nested lists. Just like in questions you can set manually the vertical spacing.
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Multiple choice questions
There are four environments to create multiple choice questions.
\question Which of these famous physicists invented time?
\begin{oneparchoices}
\choice Stephen Hawking
\choice Albert Einstein
\choice Emmy Noether
\choice This makes no sense
\end{oneparchoices}
\question Which of these famous physicists published a paper on Brownian Motion?
\begin{checkboxes}
\choice Stephen Hawking
\choice Albert Einstein
\choice Emmy Noether
\choice I don't know
\end{checkboxes}
In this example, two different environments are used to list the possible choices for multiplechoice questions.
 The environment
oneparchoices
labels the choices with upper case letters and prints them horizontally. If you want the choices to be printed in a listlike format, the environmentchoices
is the right choice.
 The environment
checkboxes
prints check boxes before each choice. If you need the choices to be printed horizontally use the environmentoneparcheckboxes
instead.
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Grading
Another important feature of the exam class is that it provides commands to make grading the exams easier.
points in each question
You can add a parameter to each \question
or \part
to print the number of points you attain by correctly answering it
\begin{questions}
\question Given the equation \(x^n + y^n = z^n\) for \(x,y,z\) and \(n\) positive
integers.
\begin{parts}
\part[10] For what values of $n$ is the statement in the previous question true?
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\part[10] For $n=2$ there's a theorem with a special name. What's that name?
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\part[10] What famous mathematician had an elegant proof for this theorem but there was
not enough space in the margin to write it down?
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\end{parts}
\question[20] Compute \[\int_{0}^{\infty} \frac{\sin(x)}{x}\]
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\end{questions}
The additional parameter inside brackets after a question or a part represents the number of points assigned to it. You can change the appearance and the place where the points are printed, see the reference guide for additional commands.
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counting points and half points
Sometimes it's convenient to include half points as value for parts of a questions. You can do this and then print then the value of the whole question. See the example below:
\documentclass[addpoints]{exam}
\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}
\begin{document}
\begin{questions}
\question Given the equation \(x^n + y^n = z^n\) for \(x,y,z\) and \(n\) positive
integers.
\begin{parts}
\part[5] For what values of $n$ is the statement in the previous question true?
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\part[2 \half] For $n=2$ there's a theorem with a special name. What's that name?
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\part[2 \half] What famous mathematician had an elegant proof for this theorem but there was
not enough space in the margin to write it down?
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\end{parts}
\droptotalpoints
\question[20]...
\end{questions}
The command \half
adds half points to a question. The command \droptotalpoints
prints the total number of points for the last question. For this last command to work you must add the option [addpoints]
to the document class statement.
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bonus points
It is possible to add bonus questions, this extra points will later show up in the grading table. Adding bonus questions and parts is actually as simple as creating regular questions and parts.
\begin{questions}
\question Given the equation \(x^n + y^n = z^n\) for \(x,y,z\) and \(n\) positive
integers.
\begin{parts}
\part[5] For what values of $n$ is the statement in the previous question true?
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\part[2 \half] For $n=2$ there's a theorem with a special name. What's that name?
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\bonuspart[2 \half] What famous mathematician had an elegant proof for this theorem but there was
not enough space in the margin to write it down?
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\end{parts}
\droptotalpoints
\question[20] Compute \[\int_{0}^{\infty} \frac{\sin(x)}{x}\]
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\bonusquestion[30] Prove that the real part of all nontrivial zeros of the function
\(\zeta(z)\) is \(\frac{1}{2}\)
\vspace{\stretch{1}}
\end{questions}
The commands \bonusquestion
and \bonuspart
print "(bonus)" next to the point value of the question.
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grading table
A table that show the points of each question can be printed with a special command.
\begin{center}
\combinedgradetable[h][questions]
\end{center}
There are three commands to print a table of grades:
\gradetable
 Prints a table with the grades corresponding to regular questions. If there are bonus questions those are not included.
\bonusgradetable
 Prints a table with the grades corresponding to the bonus questions only
\combinedgradetable
 Prints a table with both, regular and bonus questions.
These commands take two extra parameters, each parameter inside brackets.
 The first one can be
[h]
for a horizontal table or[v]
for a vertical table.  The second one sets how the table is indexed:
[questions]
to index the points by question and[pages]
to list the points by page number.
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Other languages
There is no support for other languages than English in the exam class. Nevertheless, it's easy to translate the default words for those in your local language. The next snippet shows how to translate the example presented in the previous sections to Spanish.
\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}
\usepackage[spanish]{babel}
\pointpoints{punto}{puntos}
\bonuspointpoints{punto extra}{puntos extra}
\totalformat{Pregunta \thequestion: \totalpoints puntos}
\chqword{Pregunta}
\chpgword{Página}
\chpword{Puntos}
\chbpword{Puntos extra}
\chsword{Puntos obtenidos}
\chtword{Total}
...
The rest of the document would be exactly the same shown in previous examples. The commands typed here change the default words in the exam class.
\pointpoints{punto}{puntos}
 Changes the words point and points for the words punto and puntos in regular questions and parts.
\bonuspointpoints{punto extra}{puntos extra}
 Writes punto extra and puntos extras instead of bonus point and bonus points in bonus questions and bonus parts.
\totalformat{Pregunta \thequestion: \totalpoints puntos}
 Changes the text printed by
\droptotalpoints
. In the example it prints Pregunta 1: 7 1/2 puntos.
\chqword{Pregunta}
 Changes the word Question for the word Pregunta in the grading table table. The rest of the commands change the other words in that table,
chpgword
for Page,\chpword
for Points,\chbpword
for Bonus points,\chsword
for Score and\chtword
for Total. These commands may change depending on the type of table your are creating, see the reference guide for the commands needed in other tables.
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Reference guide
Placing and formatting the points mark for questions
These commands can be typed in the preamble to change the format of the whole document or right before a question to change the format from that question down to the next formatting command or the end of the document.
\poinstmargin
. The point values are printed in the left margin. Use\nopointsmargin
to revert this command to the default format.\pointsmarginright
. The point values are printed in the right margin. The command\nopoinstmarginright
will revert to the normal behaviour.\bracketedpoints
. Uses brackets instead of parentheses around the point values.\boxedpoints
. Draws a box around the point values.
Changing default names in Grade Tables
The commands depend on the format and the information displayed on the table. The h and v within each command mean horizontal or vertical orientation. If the command is preceded by a b means it changes the format in a bonus table, if the command is preceded by a c means it works on combined tables. For instance, to change the word "Score" in a vertical oriented bonus table for the words "Points Awarded" you should use \bvsword{Points Awarded}
.
Below a table with the default values is shown.
horizontal  vertical  

grades table 


bonus points table 


combined table 


Further reading
For more information see:
 Creating a document in LaTeX
 Bold, italics and underlining
 Lists
 Mathematical expressions
 Subscripts and superscripts
 Brackets and Parentheses
 Aligning Equations
 List of Greek letters and math symbols
 Inserting Images
 Positioning images and tables
 Font sizes, families, and styles
 Font typefaces
 The exam class documentation.
Overleaf guides
 Creating a document in Overleaf
 Uploading a project
 Copying a project
 Creating a project from a template
 Using the Overleaf project menu
 Including images in Overleaf
 Exporting your work from Overleaf
 Working offline in Overleaf
 Using Track Changes in Overleaf
 Using bibliographies in Overleaf
 Sharing your work with others
 Using the History feature
 Debugging Compilation timeout errors
 Howto guides
LaTeX Basics
 Creating your first LaTeX document
 Choosing a LaTeX Compiler
 Paragraphs and new lines
 Bold, italics and underlining
 Lists
 Errors
Mathematics
 Mathematical expressions
 Subscripts and superscripts
 Brackets and Parentheses
 Matrices
 Fractions and Binomials
 Aligning equations
 Operators
 Spacing in math mode
 Integrals, sums and limits
 Display style in math mode
 List of Greek letters and math symbols
 Mathematical fonts
Figures and tables
 Inserting Images
 Tables
 Positioning Images and Tables
 Lists of Tables and Figures
 Drawing Diagrams Directly in LaTeX
 TikZ package
References and Citations
 Bibliography management with bibtex
 Bibliography management with natbib
 Bibliography management with biblatex
 Bibtex bibliography styles
 Natbib bibliography styles
 Natbib citation styles
 Biblatex bibliography styles
 Biblatex citation styles
Languages
 Multilingual typesetting on Overleaf using polyglossia and fontspec
 Multilingual typesetting on Overleaf using babel and fontspec
 International language support
 Quotations and quotation marks
 Arabic
 Chinese
 French
 German
 Greek
 Italian
 Japanese
 Korean
 Portuguese
 Russian
 Spanish
Document structure
 Sections and chapters
 Table of contents
 Cross referencing sections, equations and floats
 Indices
 Glossaries
 Nomenclatures
 Management in a large project
 Multifile LaTeX projects
 Hyperlinks
Formatting
 Lengths in LaTeX
 Headers and footers
 Page numbering
 Paragraph formatting
 Line breaks and blank spaces
 Text alignment
 Page size and margins
 Single sided and double sided documents
 Multiple columns
 Counters
 Code listing
 Code Highlighting with minted
 Using colours in LaTeX
 Footnotes
 Margin notes
Fonts
Presentations
Commands
Field specific
 Theorems and proofs
 Chemistry formulae
 Feynman diagrams
 Molecular orbital diagrams
 Chess notation
 Knitting patterns
 CircuiTikz package
 Pgfplots package
 Typesetting exams in LaTeX
 Knitr
 Attribute Value Matrices
Class files
 Understanding packages and class files
 List of packages and class files
 Writing your own package
 Writing your own class