Library: Adding an Item and Item settings

Cirrus Assessment Support Team -

Introduction on Creating Items and their settings

In this article we will look at how to add Items and the different options of the 'Question settings' in the panel on the right hand side.

Adding an Item

In our article 'Item management in Collections' you can read all about creating, copying and archiving your questions and about bulk actions (doing this for multiple questions at once). Once you create or open a question you can start working on the Item itself. Let's take a look at a Multiple Choice question for example:


  1. In this part you enter the question, answer alternatives et cetera. You can find more details in our article on the different item types in Cirrus
  2. Item options - use this button to access the item's specific options regarding feedback, ordering answer options scoring type which determines if dichotomous or polytomous scoring is used.
  3. The Item side-bar is where you setup and access the meta-data for the question but also the revision history with comments.

Item options: setting up feedback on questions

Feedback on questions allows authors to enter feedback per question in case the candidate answers the question correct, incorrect or partially correct. It will be shown after each question when the candidate submits the answer:


  • If the answer is correct, display the following feedback...
  • If the answer is partially correct, display the following feedback...
  • If the answer is incorrect, display the following feedback...

Usage of feedback on Items - This feature is mainly used for formative assessments and requires the option feedback on questions to be set by the assessment author. It applies to all question types except Essay and Mathematical/Sowiso questions. 

It is also often used for documenting why something is the correct answer - Some of our customers use feedback on questions / feedback on alternatives fields to document why something is a correct answer without showing this to the candidate. 

How do I enable feedback on items? Simply use the options button when adding / editing an item and check the option 'Show feedback on question'. Alternatively you can use our import of items using Excel.

Item Options: ordebutton for MC and MR

Multiple Choice and Multiple Response questions come with an additional options button. When clicking it you access the options available for the question type you are editing:


Read more about their specific options in our article on the different Item types.

Item Options: Workoutbox

All question types have the ability to activate to allow a workout box for candidates. Candidates can make notes during the assessment and these notes will be saved per question and can be viewed by the marker.


Read more about their specific options in our article on the different Item types.

The item side-panel

For each item you create, you will be able to define certain settings against the item before saving it. These settings will be available for all question types in the right-hand panel of the item editing screen. By default the the 'Tags' section is open when editing an item:


Item Status

  • The status of the item relates to the item workflow from 'Draft', 'Ready for Review', 'Review - approved/'Review - not approved' through to 'Live' and 'Withdrawn'.
  • Please note: only Live items can be used in an assessment.
  • Setting permissions on status management is done under Admin > Roles > Collection > Status Management.
  • You can filter on Item status and view the status of an item at a glance when looking at a collection of items / a list of items in the Library.
  • When you create an Item it will by default have the status 'Draft'.

Status when editing:

Example of Item status listed in a Collection:



You can withdraw individual questions in collections that should no longer be active / usable in assessment. This does not mean that existing assessments will be affected - the questions will not automatically disappear. These assessments need to be actioned by their authors. You need to inform them so they can create a new version of the assessment and work from there.

You can archive complete collections of questions - sometimes this works better. 

Item side panel: Section

Under Section you will see if the item has been added to a specific section page. (If the item is a section you will see a list of items if any have been added.) This linking questions to in the library is more formal than more freehandedly manually linking questions in the assessment form.

Learning Objectives

Assigning a Learning Objective will help when selecting items for an assessment, and also to provide meaningful feedback for learners using the Score Report for example. You can set the Learning Objectives against each item you create:


  • Click the ‘Set’ button in the Learning Objectives section of the right-hand panel.
  • A pop-up will appear with a folder tree, allowing you to navigate and select the Learning Objective(s) you wish to assign to the question.

Note: The setup of Learning Objectives can be done in Cirrus via the Administration panel. If your assessments will be created using a blueprint, you will need to assign a Learning Objective to each item that should be included.


Item purpose

The Item Purpose: states if the question's is for Formative or Summative examination. In other words: this will determine in what kind of assessments the Item can be used. See Adding an assessment: choosing a formative, summative or mixed If you leave this value empty the item can only be used in assessments of type 'Mixed'.

Item Taxonomy

Item Taxonomy: the taxonomy term(s) applicable to the Item. You can select from an existing Taxonomy as set up by an Admin. If your assessments will be created using a blueprint, you will need to assign a Taxonomy term to all items involved. 

Items tagged as Seed item

Seed items are used in real life exams to gather psychometric data but do not count towards the candidates score- it is 'unscored'. The candidate will not see any difference and cannot see that the question in his exam is a seed item.
Typically this is used if you want to test the item and gather psychometric data before applying the item to be counting towards the candidate score in the high stakes assessments you deliver. By default this option is set to 'No' when creating an Item.

 Review: Item Revision History and comments

The second part of the side panel (behind the 'clipboard-icon' consists of the Revision History and comment section for the item:


  1. Last Modified - Here you will be able to see when the item was last modified under 'Revision'. If you click the ‘View History’ you will be able to see the revision history of the item.
  2. Comments on the item - below the view history you enter comments and view comments from (co-)authors
  3. You can view comments from (co-)authors including the version the comment was made on and date and time stamp. You can easily reply to comments

Revision history of an item


In the Revision history window of an item you can compare versions:

  •  Select two versions and click the ‘Compare’ button to open the 'Compare Revision-window':
  • The different columns show valuable information such as version number, question summary, changes, score and Item workflow status.
  • Tip: You can move the revision pop-up to better see the current version of the Item.
  • Tip: An Item needs to be Saved first, before it shows as a version in these item revision windows.

Saving & Previewing Items

When creating items in Cirrus, you can click 'Save' and then use the ‘Preview’ button at the bottom of the item editing screen to view the item as a candidate would see it during their assessment. You will be able to interact with the question and, if it’s automatically marked, check that the marks are being assigned to the correct answer.

To exit the item editing screen, click the ‘Save and Close’ button. You will then be returned to the Items screen.

If you wish to discard the item you are creating (and haven’t already saved it), click ‘Cancel’.

Editing Existing Items that are / are not in use

To edit an existing item, simply double click on the item you wish to edit in your Library. The item will open and you will be able to make any necessary changes before re-saving it.

Note on editing live items that are in use:  If the item is already being used in an assessment, you will only be able to make small textual changes. In other words: you cannot add or remove answering options or change the Item purpose or metadata like Learning Objectives or Taxonomies. Should you open an item that is being used in an assessment, you will see a warning message that the item is in use.

Small changes to Items take effect in new and existing schedules that start at least 15 minutes after the change was made.

Important difference when working on items between item versions and item revisions

""Versions are major changes to live items, whereas revisions are smaller changes to item versions."

This distinction is especially important in when you work on items that are already in use in assessments. See our article 'Item editing: Item Revisions versus Item Versions'.

Moving an item / importing items from another collection

Because of the data structure in Cirrus there is no 'move' button. In order to move an item into a new collection for example (or to an existing collection):

  • Create the new collection and amend the prefix (or go to an existing one)
  • Click the Action button and select select import from the dropdown
  • On the modal window that opens select "From another collection" and click continue.
  • The question import screen opens:


  1. You can filter on collection (using the dropdown) or by question type (left column)
  2. Select the questions you want to move
  3. Click on 'Import Selected' (note: it does not look like a button).
  • Archiving the old collection is recommended
  • Please note that with this move your psychometric data is reset / start anew when you start using the question.

Sharing Collections and Items

Beneath the tags, you will be able to see who the item is shared with. Sharing Collections enables author to collaborate on the Items in that Collection. Also see the article on Sharing in Cirrus.


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