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Building a Formative (the Formative Editor)
Building a Formative (the Formative Editor)

Learn how to add questions and content, upload and enhance images, re-order, delete and restore items, and how to preview your formative!

Neta Raz Studnitski avatar
Written by Neta Raz Studnitski
Updated this week

Creating New Formatives

Educators can create formatives from scratch or grab pre-made content from the Formative library. If you have opted in to our Early Access to Beta Features you can also use our AI to generate a formative.

In this article we will focus on the creation of new formatives, covering:

NEW! Editor Navigation Side-Bar

A quicker way to navigate items on the formative's Editor has been introduced recently. Using the Navigation Side-Bar teachers can quickly jump to individual items, take bulk actions such as copying or deleting items, and even re-order items on the formative. Head on over here to read more about this new and exciting feature!

Coming Soon! Collapsible Formative Editor

A new cleaner and more organized editor experience is coming to Formative soon! Head over to your account's settings page to opt in to testing this experience in your account. Read more about the collapsible editor view and functions here!

Get Started

  1. Navigate to your "Formatives" tab

  2. Click the "Add +" button

  3. Select the preferred method from the dropdown menu:

    1. New Formative to open a new formative and start building from scratch

    2. Auto-Generate Formative to utilize Formative's AI for the creation of a new formative (step-by-step instructions can be found in this linked article)

    3. Import Document to upload a document (PDF, DOC, Image, etc.) from your device as the foundation to your new formative (you can then proceed to enhance it with questions and other items). This option will also offer you to grab images from Google, take photos directly into your formative with your device's camera, or draw an image using our drawing feature.

    4. Import Google Docs to import PDF files, Google Slides, Google Docs, or Images saved on your Google Drive directly into a new formative to serve as the foundation for your article (here, too, you can then proceed to enhance it with questions and other items).

    5. Import Google Form to simultaneously import an existing Google Form from your Google Drive and parse / convert into a formative (step-by-step instructions can be found in this linked article)



If you have other content items you'd like to add to a formative, such as video or audio files, please review the corresponding help article in this linked support section.

Do not worry! You can add content items at any stage when building a formative, read on to find out more about adding content items!

Add a title and instructions

When creating a new formative, start by giving it a title. Simply click the generic "Untitled Formative" in the banner and type in a different title.

Clicking the styling icon will offer the option to change the banner's color or upload a background image to it (ideal image size 1000x400).

To add general instructions to your formative click on "Add Instructions" and enter instructions to your students and/or teacher notes that will be visible only to you and other teachers who collaborate on the formative with you. Instructions and notes may include content items such as files, videos, audio recordings, images, emojis, etc. (See here for more details on teacher notes)

The header view also provides the option to tag the formative. Tagging the formative will assist in data collection and reporting.

The body of a formative can include various content and question types, including enhanced uploaded content. Silver/Gold users also have the ability to divide their formative into sections.

Adding any of these items to a formative begins by clicking the big blue + button.

Add Questions from scratch

After clicking the blue plus button you can choose any of the available options under "Question types".

Note: The question types available to free account holders are: Free Response, Multiple Choice, Multiple Selection, Short Answer, Drawing, and True Or False.

All other question types are part of the extended features set available to Silver/Gold plan members.

You can add a question anywhere in the formative, even after you've already created others. The "+" button is located before, after and in between each question.

If you've opted in to Early Access to test Beta features (future releases), you will also have the option to generate questions using ChatGPT AI.

Duplicating questions

Sometimes it's faster to duplicate a question and then tweak it!

Simply click on the 3 dots next to the point value, and choose the "copy" icon to copy the question:

Changing Question Type

NOTE: Changing the type of a question that already has student responses will delete the question and the responses. If your formative is shared with other teachers as collaborators, their students' answers will be removed as well. If needed, you will be able to locate the original question in your deleted items list and restore it along with the answers. When restored, the original question will re-appear as the last item on the formative and not in it's original place.

To change the question type, click on the question type listed at the top left corner of the question box, and choose the new type from the dropdown menu. Then, confirm your request to change the question type.

File Upload to questions

File uploads of less than 100 MB are now supported in all question types. Add any file type for students to download by clicking the plus button at the far right of your question's text bar, and choosing "File". Students can also add a file upload to Free Response questions.

Add an Existing Question - from a formative previously created or from the library

Start by clicking the big blue + button and then "Search existing items" under "Library Items".

Add question from your existing Formatives:

  1. In the window that opens on the right side of your screen select the "My Formatives" tab

  2. Search within your Formatives to find a question to add! Then click the "+Add" button to the right of the question:

You can then merge the questions from a second formative, one by one!

Grab a question from our library:

  1. In the window that opens to the right of your screen select the "Library" tab

  2. Search within the library to find a question to add! Then click the "+Add" button to the right of the question:

You can edit and duplicate your grabbed questions as much as you like!

Library items will now show the Standard tagged by the author along with a brief description upon hovering. This will be helpful when selecting the appropriate item to assign. You can choose to Add or Dismiss the standard in your own use of the formative.

If you're a member of a school or district with a Gold plan that has purchased our Item Bank Add-on, please review this article to learn how to add Item Bank questions to your formative.

Add Content Items

After clicking the blue plus button, you can choose any of the available options under "Content types".

Note: Free account holders can choose the content types Embed, Image, Text, Video, Google Slides and Whiteboard. The Audio content type is available only to Silver/Gold plan members.

You can add content between other things on your formative. Simply click on the + icon in between questions or content you've already created and select from the menu that appears:

NOTE: If a attempting to upload an unsafe file extension (ie .exe files) or other non-supported files, a "That file is not supported" notification will appear

Enhance an Uploaded Document (including Google items)

You can upload PDFs, Word Docs, images, slides, Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Forms, and more - directly from your device or from Google Drive!

Note: When grabbing items from Google Drive there is a limit of 25 pages per upload. If your slide deck or file is longer, please split it into smaller chunks and upload each portion separately.

** Bronze (free) users have an uploading limit of 20 pages of content per month.

Enhance the Document of your choice

To start, click on the "+" icon and choose "Enhance a Document" under "Upload Your Own Content".

  1. Select the option you prefer for importing your content into your formative. You can select between:

    1. Upload items directly from your device with a click on the field or dragging and dropping the item into the field

    2. Pick from Google Drive to import any saved PDF, Google Doc, Slides, Forms, etc. directly into your formative

    3. Take a Photo to grab a live image with your device's camera

    4. Draw an Image to use our whiteboard option where you can upload a background and add manual scribbles, writing and drawing directly on it.

  2. Select the document and confirm the upload

  3. The document will be added on the left side of your screen, and any questions or other content items you add to enhance it will appear on the right side panel

To add questions, simply click anywhere on the PDF/Doc/Image/Google Doc where you would like your question to be. The questions will then appear on the right side, where you can tag standards, set an answer key for auto-grading and set the point value.
If you've opted into our AI Content Creation Beta features, you can also AI to generate questions.

To remove a question, click the 3 dots next to it and choose "delete"

Questions can also be moved around. You have the ability to switch the order of questions within the "Enhance" question type, or to move them out from the question type to be stand alone questions on the general formative. In a similar manner you can also move a stand alone question on the general formative into the "Enhance" question type.

To move a question to another location within the Enhance question type or outside of it:

  1. Click the 3 dots on the left side corner and choose "move"

  2. A blue frame will appear around the question chosen to be moved

  3. Click the "Move item here" button in the location to which you would like to move the question.

To move a stand alone question into an Enhance question type:

  1. Click the 3 dots on the left side corner and choose "move"

  2. Click anywhere on the PDF/Doc/Image/Google Doc where you would like your question to be to create the number bubble (don't worry you can move the question again later if you'd like to rearrange the order of questions)

  3. The question will then appear on the right side

Note: The scroll bar is separate for both the document and the questions so that students can always reference the document while they answer questions. Also, you can pick up and drag the question numbers if you choose to move them!

Remove the EnhancedPDF/Document

If you no longer need the original PDF / Doc within your Formative, you have the option to remove it and keep only the questions. To do this:

  1. Click on the pencil icon at the top of the uploaded content

  2. Click on the trashcan icon

  3. Confirm removal of the content item

Once the item has been removed, the questions will remain as stand-alone questions that are not dependent on the previously uploaded content item.

NEW! PDF Parsing (Beta Feature)

If you've opted in for testing our Beta features, you can now use AI to parse your uploaded PDFs and pull questions from within them into Formative automatically. Click here to learn how!


FAQ and troubleshooting tips

When I try to upload, nothing happens.

If you are uploading a Google Doc, then you may be trying to upload from a Shared Drive that we do not have access to. Try downloading the Doc to your device, then re-uploading it.

Another possible reason for this is if you are trying to upload a file that is larger than your upload limit, or a file in an unsupported format. (Note: TextEdit files are often labelled as PDFs in Google Drive.) Try checking the file size, then try downloading the file and exporting or printing to PDF, and then upload it again.

NOTE: If a attempting to upload an unsafe file extension (ie .exe files) or other non-supported files, a "That file is not supported" notification will appear

Reorder Items Within a Formative

There are two options to re-order questions and content items inside a formative:

1. Click on the ellipsis at the top left of the question, select the "Move item here" button to move the question

2. Click on the three dots to the right hand side of your question (next to the point value) and select "Move". The "Move item here" button will appear, click on the bar to move your question.

Delete and Restore Items

NOTE: Deleting a question that already has student responses will also delete the responses. If your formative is shared with other teachers as collaborators, their students' answers will be removed as well. However, restoring the deleted question will restore the answers too.

To delete a question:

Click the 3 dots located on the the right-hand corner of a question or a content item and choose "delete":

Select "Remove Formative Item":

Removed a question accidentally?

To restore a question:

  1. Click the 3 dots at the top right hand corner of your screen

  2. Choose "Restore Deleted Items"

  3. Scroll down to select the question you would like restored

  4. Select "Restore" and your question(s) will re-appear as the last question on your formative!

  5. If there were previously any student responses to the question they will also be restored

Preview a Formative as a Student

You can use the Preview button to view & interact with your formatives from a student's perspective!

While in Preview, you can see how your formative will appear to students on various devices by selecting the desired preview device icon - phone, tablet, or computer screen!

You can also click the "pop out" icon to open the Preview in a new tab. This will update every second as you build your formative, so you can quickly click between the two tabs to check how your formative will appear to your students:

You can even answer the questions while in Preview, and click on "View Responses" to see how your answers would be auto-graded!

Note: Responses you give while in Preview will not be included in your Tracker, unless you hit "submit". Once submitted, your responses will be included in your Tracker under "Teacher Preview".

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