LEO Guides

How to bulk import questions into a Question Bank in the Aiken Format

It is a relatively simple process to manually add individual questions to a Question Bank. However it can become time consuming if you are managing tens or even hundreds of questions. Rather than adding each question individually, you are able to import questions to a Question Bank in bulk. To import questions you will need to convert them into a format which can be read by LEO, and then upload them directly to the Question Bank. From here your questions can be added to Quizzes and Lesson activities.

There are a number of different formatting options which are compatible with the Question Bank in LEO (click on the 'Other Formats' heading to learn more), but by far the simplest to use is the Aiken Format.

What is the Aiken Format?

The Aiken format is a way of creating multiple choice and True/False questions in a simple text file.

Bulk uploading questions using the Aiken Format is a two-step process. First you must write and save your questions into the Aiken format, then you must upload your saved file into your Question Bank.

Step 1 - Write and save your questions into an Aiken Format file

To write your questions using the Aiken format you need to:

  1. Write your questions in a simple text editor such as Text Edit (Mac) or Notepad (Windows).

    Note: If you use Microsoft Word to write your questions, you must save your file as a plain text file encoded using UTF-8. Otherwise any questions that use smart quotation marks or smart apostrophes will fail to import correctly. See below.

    The Aiken format follows the parameters below:

    • The question must be all on one line.
    • Each answer must start with a single Uppercase letter, followed by either a fullstop OR a right parenthesis and then a space.
    • The answer line must start with the word "ANSWER: ". The choice which signifies the correct answer must be capitalised (as shown in the examples below).

    In practice, questions written in the Aiken Format will look like this:

    What colour are strawberries?
    A. green
    B. yellow
    C. black
    D. red

    What does the A stand for in ACU?
    A) Australian
    B) Antarctic
    C) Australasian
    D) Angola

  2. If you have used a text editor such as Text Edit (Mac) or Notepad (Windows) to create your questions, you will not have to do this step.

    If you are using Word save your files as a Plain Text file using UTF-8 encoding. Click 'Save As' select  .txt (plain text) file. Select "Other encoding:"  and then choose "Unicode (UTF-8) and click OK.

screenshot of the options available when you create an Aiken format file using MS Word

Step 2 - Upload your Aiken Format file to the Question Bank

  1. screenshot of the upload options available Question Bank Log into LEO and navigate to your unit where you would like to upload the questions.
  2. Navigate to the Administration block, click on 'Question Bank'. Then click 'Import'.
  3. Select 'Aiken Format' for the File Format.
  4. Click on 'General' to expand the heading, then select the appropriate category for your questions to go into from the dropdown options provided.
  5. Click on 'Import questions from file' and then click on 'Choose a file' to open the LEO file picker. Locate the file on your computer or device and click on 'Upload this file'. The file will appear as a link in the field.
  6. Click 'Import'
  7. In the next screen you will be able to see if your import was successful, and how many questions you have imported. If the information is correct, click 'Continue'.
  8. Your questions are now accessible from within your Question Bank.

There are many format options for you to select from when importing questions into your Question Bank. A brief explanation of each of these is included below.


The Blackboard format is suitable for any questions which have been exported from the Blackboard Learning Management System.

Embedded answers (Cloze)

The Embedded answers (Cloze) format enables you to import a paragraph of text which has question types such as multiple-choice and short answer embedded within it. To learn more click here.


Examview format allows you to import questions from Examview 4 XML files. For newer versions of Examview, Blackboard format may be substituted.

Gift format

Gift format is allows you to import and export multiple choice, true false, matching, numerical and essay questions, via a text file. To learn more click here.

Missing word format

Missing word format allows you to import and export questions via a text file. According to Moodle Docs there are some issues with this format, so it should be avoided. To learn more click here.

Moodle XML format

A Moodle (LEO) specific format for importing and exporting questions. Developed by the Moodle community. To learn more click here.

Webct format

WebCT format allows you to import multiple-choice and short answer questions saved in WebCT's text-based format.

LEO Guide: How to set up a Quiz

LEO Guide: How to add a new question to a Quiz

LEO Guide: How to create and use a Question Bank

LEO Guide: How to add a user override to a Quiz

LEO Guide: How to add a group override to a Quiz

Butcher, P. 2014. Hands–on Moodle Quiz for the Edinburgh MoodleMoot workshop 2014. [online] OpenLearn Works. Retrieved from http://www.open.edu/openlearnworks/course/view.php?id=1703 Accessed 18 May 2016.

Effective quiz practices - MoodleDocs. 2016. Retrieved from https://docs.moodle.org/29/en/Effective_quiz_practices Accessed 18 May 2016.

Lyndon, M. 2015. Getting the most out of Moodle Quizzes. Academic Support, Technology & Innovation. Retrieved from http://blogs.plymouth.ac.uk/asti/getting-the-most-out-of-moodle-quizzes/ Accessed 18 May 2016.

MoodleDocs 2.9 - Quiz activity

MoodleDocs 2.9 - Aiken Format

MoodleDocs 2.9 - Import Questions