Use autograding

You can automatically provide feedback on code submissions from your students by configuring tests to run in the assignment repository.

In this article

About autograding

You can use autograding to automatically check a student's work for an assignment on GitHub Classroom. You configure tests for an assignment, and the tests run immediately every time a student pushes to an assignment repository on GitHub. The student can view the test results, make changes, and push to see new results.

After a student accepts an assignment, on every push to the assignment repository, GitHub Actions runs the commands for your autograding test in a Linux environment containing the student's newest code. GitHub Classroom creates the necessary workflows for GitHub Actions. You don't need experience with GitHub Actions to use autograding.

You can use a testing framework, run a custom command, write input/output tests, or combine different testing methods. The Linux environment for autograding contains many popular software tools. For more information, see the details for the latest version of Ubuntu in "Specifications for GitHub-hosted runners."

You can see an overview of which students are passing autograding tests by navigating to the assignment in GitHub Classroom. A green checkmark means that all tests are passing for the student, and a red X means that some or all tests are failing for the student. If you award points for one or more tests, then a bubble shows the score for the tests out of the maximum possible score for the assignment.

Overview for an assignment with autograding results

Grading methods

There are two grading methods: input/output tests and run command tests.

Input/output test

An input/output test optionally runs a setup command, then provides standard input to a test command. GitHub Classroom evaluates the test command's output against an expected result.

SettingDescription
Test nameThe name of the test, to identify the test in logs
Setup commandOptional. A command to run before tests, such as compilation or installation
Run commandThe command to run the test and generate standard output for evaluation
InputsStandard input for run command
Expected outputThe output that you want to see as standard output from the run command
ComparisonThe type of comparison between the run command's output and the expected output

  • Included: Passes when the expected output appears
    anywhere in the standard output from the run command
  • Exact: Passes when the expected output is completely identical
    to the standard output from the run command
  • Regex: Passes if the regular expression in expected
    output matches against the standard output from the run command
TimeoutIn minutes, how long a test should run before resulting in failure
PointsOptional. The number of points the test is worth toward a total score

Run command test

A run command test runs a setup command, then runs a test command. GitHub Classroom checks the exit status of the test command. An exit code of 0 results in success, and any other exit code results in failure.

GitHub Classroom provides presets for language-specific run command tests for a variety of programming languages. For example, the Run node test prefills the setup command with npm install and the test command with npm test.

SettingDescription
Test nameThe name of the test, to identify the test in logs
Setup commandOptional. A command to run before tests, such as compilation or installation
Run commandThe command to run the test and generate an exit code for evaluation
TimeoutIn minutes, how long a test should run before resulting in failure
PointsOptional. The number of points the test is worth toward a total score

Configuring autograding tests for an assignment

You can add autograding tests during the creation of a new assignment. For more information, see "Create an individual assignment" or "Create a group assignment."

You can add, edit, or delete autograding tests for an existing assignment. If you change the autograding tests for an existing assignment, existing assignment repositories will not be affected. A student or team must accept the assignment and create a new assignment repository to use the new tests.

  1. Sign into GitHub Classroom.
  2. In the list of classrooms, click the classroom you want to view. Classroom in list of classrooms for an organization
  3. To the right of the assignment you want to edit, click . Pencil icon for editing assignment in list of assignments
  4. In the left sidebar, click Grading and feedback. "Grading and feedback" to the left of assignment's basics
  5. Add, edit, or delete an autograding test.
    • To add a test, under "Add autograding tests", select the Add test drop-down menu, then click the grading method you want to use. Using the "Add test" drop-down menu to click a grading method Configure the test, then click Save test case. "Save test case" button for an autograding test
    • To edit a test, to the right of the test name, click . Pencil icon for editing an autograding test Configure the test, then click Save test case. "Save test case" button for an autograding test
    • To delete a test, to the right of the test name, click . Trash icon for deleting an autograding test
  6. At the bottom of the page, click Update assignment. "Update assignment" button at the bottom of the page

Viewing logs from autograding tests

  1. Sign into GitHub Classroom.
  2. In the list of classrooms, click the classroom you want to view. Classroom in list of classrooms for an organization
  3. In the list of assignments, click the assignment you want to view. Assignment in list of assignments for an classroom
  4. To the right of a submission, click View test. "View test" button for an assignment submission
  5. Review the test output. For more information, see "Using workflow run logs."

Further reading

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