Sapling Learning > Flash-based Activity Question Types: Symbolic Equation

Document created by Digital Support on Jan 25, 2017Last modified by Digital Support on Sep 27, 2017
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The Symbolic Equation Module supports a wide range of mathematical symbols and functions. It can be used for static display or graded entry.

When in graded mode:

  • The system uses standard order of operations and recognizes alternative forms of mathematical expressions.
  • It cannot evaluate an expression with an equals sign.

    Good example: "Express force in terms of mass, m, and acceleration, a." and "F=" is static text in front of the answer box so the student just enters "ma". Bad example: "Enter the equation for force." where the entire equation, including the equals sign, is inside the answer module.

  • The equation editor can evaluate up to four variables. It is not advised to have more than four variables required for a graded entry.
  • This module uses text auto-fill for trigonometric functions to ensure that variant forms are graded correctly. This feature can be turned off in static mode under Options > Auto-Convert.

For those of you familiar with LaTex, you can enter LaTex mode in the Equation module by typing backslash (\).


  1. Grab. Select to move contents of module within entry field. Select the tool and then click on the equation and hold while moving the mouse.
  2. Subscript. Highlight text and click to subscript text or click to open the subscript editing area (Shortcut: press "shift" and "-" at the same time). Note: this editor provides a special feature that allows for multi-level subscripting. To escape subscript mode, use the right keyboard arrow, or click on the main line.
  3. Superscript. Highlight the text and click to superscript it or click to open superscript editing area (Shortcut: press "shift" and "6" at the same time). Note: this editor provides a special feature that allows for multi-level superscripting. To escape superscript mode, use the right keyboard arrow or click on the main line.
  4. Greek alphabet menus. Click to open the menu of Greek letters, which can then be inserted at the cursor. Both upper and lower case are available.
  5. Special character menu. Click to open the menu of special characters and mathematical symbols, such as degrees and plus and minus signs. (Shortcut: press "shift" and "8" for multiplication symbol.)
  6. Roots, fractions, and grouping. Click to open the menu with common mathematical functions for roots, stacked fractions, and grouping characters.
  7. Trigonometric functions menu. Click to open the menu with common trigonometric functions.
  8. Functions menu. Contains sum, limit, log, pipe, natural log (ln), and natural base (e).
  9. Vector menu. Contains average (overbar), vectors (overarrow), and vector components (overhat).
  10. Bold. Highlight and click to make text bold.
  11. Italic. Highlight and click to make text italic.
  12. Create algo. Highlight text or number(s) and click to make algorithmic variables.
  13. Insert-algo menu. Click green arrow to view and select available algorithmic variables from drop-down menu.
  14. Grading status. Changes the module between static, graded, and interactive.
  15. Revert. Removes changes made to the module in current tab.
  16. Delete. Removes this module.