Numbas, an open-source e-assessment system for mathematics

Christian Lawson-Perfect

Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence 2020 Newcastle University


An open-source e-assessment system designed for mathematical subjects.

Developed at Newcastle University for ~10 years.

Free and open source.

Used around the world.

Key features

  • Easy to use.
  • Customisable everywhere.
  • Delivered through VLE or standalone.
  • Scalable, reliable and accessible to a broad range of users.

Use in Newcastle

At Newcastle, we use Numbas for:

  • Formative use in a pre-entry course.
  • Diagnostic tests.
  • Banks of practice material to supplement lecture material.
  • In-course assessment.
  • Final exams.

Use outside Newcastle

  • 1,000+ institutions in the UK and around the world.
  • 5,000+ users registered on public editor.
  • 8,000+ questions and exams released for free reuse under an open access licence.
  • Translated into 15 languages.

(as of November 2020, as far as we can tell)

Use in Africa

I know of users in South Africa, Algeria, Kenya, Mauritius.

Project with University of Pretoria.

See Ione Loots' EAMS 2016 talk:

Overcoming challenges with e-assessment implementation in developing countries: a case study from South Africa

What you need

For formative use: point students at Numbas exams. It all runs in their browser.

For summative use: LTI tool, locked browser (e.g.


  • Write or reuse questions.
  • Package into an exam and pick feedback settings.
    • Upload to VLE using SCORM or LTI.
    • Students access exam.
    • Data saved - review attempts, view stats.
    • Embed in a webpage
    • Students access exam.
    • No data stored.

The mathcentre editor

  • Open to everyone.
  • Collect ready-made questions into a custom test
  • Or write your own.

A demo

Numbas demo exam


Numbas homepage:


How Numbas can help during the COVID-19 crisis:

E-Assessment in Mathematical Sciences 2020: