CommonLit Archive CommonLit's Digital Lessons Are More Flexible Than Ever Before

CommonLit fans will be very excited to learn that CommonLit has just launched new features that provide greater flexibility for digital assignments: Assessment Options! Now, when teachers assign a lesson on CommonLit, they can choose to assign all assessment questions, only the multiple-choice questions, only the short-answer writing questions, or none of the assessment questions.

A short video showing how to assign assessment questions for the lesson "The Gift of the Magi."
Click “Assign Text” on the CommonLit lesson you want to share with your students. Then, choose the assessment option that fits your students’ needs.

In this blog post, we’ll share some of the ways to use this feature strategically with your students.

Option 1: Assign All Assessment Questions

What to Expect:

If you choose this option, students will be prompted to answer 4–10 standards-aligned multiple-choice and short-answer written response questions after reading the text.

CommonLit’s Recommendation:

This is the most challenging assessment option that CommonLit offers. Students are required to independently read a grade-level text, answer standards-aligned multiple-choice questions, and produce high-quality evidence-based writing.

This assessment mode is ideal if your goal is to give students more practice with questions that mimic a high-stakes assessment. A recent study shows that schools perform better on state assessments when more students regularly complete assessments on CommonLit.

The CommonLit lesson "Seventh Grade."
When you assign a CommonLit lesson with all assessment questions, students will answer a handful of standards-aligned multiple-choice questions and a few short-answer questions.

Option 2: Assign Only the Multiple-Choice Questions

What to Expect:

If you choose this option, students will only see the multiple-choice questions that come with the lesson. They will not see the short-answer questions that require a written response.

CommonLit’s Recommendation:

This option is ideal if you’re interested in gathering data on student performance through a short assessment with questions that get auto-graded.

CommonLit’s writing questions require students to write multiple sentences and utilize evidence from the text. These questions can take several minutes for students to complete.

It can also take teachers more time to return student work if they need to grade students’ writing. By omitting the writing questions, you can rapidly provide students with feedback on their reading performance. Choose this option if students have other ways to regularly practice and receive feedback on their writing, and you’re interested in saving time.

Option 3: Assign Only the Short-Answer Writing Questions

What to Expect:

Many CommonLit lessons include one or two writing questions. If you choose the option to only assign the short-answer writing questions, students will only see these questions after they read the text.

CommonLit’s Recommendation:

This option is ideal if your priority is to assess student comprehension of the text through writing. It works well if you also give students a specific focus for their annotations as they read.

Let’s use the text “Thank You Ma’m” by Langston Hughes as an example:

In this literary text, there are just two characters — Roger and Ms. Jones. The story begins with Roger attempting to steal Ms. Jones’ purse. Despite his actions, Ms. Jones acts kindly towards Roger and forgives him for his actions. In turn, Roger expresses remorse for his misdeed.

In this lesson, CommonLit provides one short-answer writing question. Students are asked:

How does the interaction between Roger and Mrs. Jones in paragraphs 33–41 contribute to the overall meaning of the story?

In order to effectively answer this question, students have to closely analyze the relationship between the characters and have a strong understanding of the story’s theme. To help students prepare to answer this question, ask students to focus their annotations on the relationship between Roger and Mrs. Jones throughout the text.

An example short answer question in a CommonLit lesson.
When assigning just the short-answer questions, students can focus on making annotations that support their written response.

Option 4: Assign the Reading Passage without any Assessment Questions

What to Expect:

If you choose this option, students will not be prompted to answer any assessment questions at the end of the text (short answer or multiple choice).

CommonLit’s Recommendation:

This option is ideal if you’re interested in having your students read one of CommonLit’s reading passages, but you have other creative post-reading activities planned. You might use this option if:

1. You’re using the article as a way to primarily build essential background knowledge for another text, so standards-based assessment is not the main purpose for reading.

2. You have another way to gauge student comprehension of the text, perhaps through a discussion, presentation, or debate.

3. The text is part of an extended essay writing exercise in which students should focus on collecting evidence during reading to answer a prompt.

Teachers will also be happy to learn that CommonLit’s Guided Reading Mode can be enabled or disabled for all the options listed above. Guided Reading Mode can also be turned on or off for individual students or whole classes. To learn more about this feature, check out this blog post.


In short, now with Assessment Options, teachers can bring more purpose to their lessons. Stay tuned for more product updates as we continue to develop new features to make CommonLit the perfect resources for you and your students.

If you’re interested in learning more about this feature and several other recently released CommonLit features, sign up to attend a free webinar offered multiple times each week.