WeBWorK Instructions and FAQs

Note: This material is an adaptation by K. Mitchell of K. Kelm's WeBWorK Instructions and FAQ.
Getting Started with WeBWorK
  1. I set up your WeBWorK accounts; unfortunately this is not done automatically by the registrar. I will send an email to your hws.edu address to confirm that your account is ready. After this, go to the WeBWorK site for our course (https://math.hws.edu/webwork2/Math131-King-F18/ for MATH 131, and https://math.hws.edu/webwork2/Math204-King-F18/ for MATH 204), and log in. Make sure to bookmark this login for future reference.
    • Your login name is your last name in lower case letters without any spaces or hyphens. For example, if your last name is Woodie-Hanson, your login name would be woodiehanson.
    • Your initial password is your 8-digit HWS student ID number. It is NOT your e-mail password!

  2. It is recommended that you change your password by clicking on Password after logging in. You can also change the e-mail address to which communications about the course, replies to your WeBWorK questions, etc. will go. Click on E-mail.
  3. You will see a list of homework sets to be completed. Click on any open set to work on that set. Set 0 is An Introduction to WeBWorK. You will get full-credit for this assignment as long as you attempt each part. You are strongly urged to "play" with it in order to see how the system works.
  4. You do not have to complete an entire set in one session. Every time you submit a correct answer, the system will record your success and you will see 100% listed as your score, even if you log out and log back in later. Some problems have multiple parts and will issue partial credit for some right answers. For example, if a problem requires 4 answers and you answer 3 of them correctly, your score for that problem will be displayed as 75%. Most problems do not give partial credit. Do remember to "submit" your answers, not just "check" them.
  5. For all but the initial set 0, I recommend that you print out open sets (go to Homework Sets; choose a set, and click on Download Hardcopy), work on them wherever you like, and then log back in and submit your answers. Keep your scratchwork to refer back to later and to show to me, the Math Intern, or a fellow student if you are not getting the correct answer.
  6. As with any computer or calculator, you have to be careful with parentheses. For example, if you want to enter
    then you have to type (sin (2x) + 5)/(cos x - 3).
    If you forget parentheses and enter sin 2x + 5/cos x - 3 it will be interpreted as
    wrong expression
    This is annoying at first, but it teaches you to use parentheses correctly!
  7. If you are unsure how to type a certain expression ("how do you type the square root of 3?"), there is a link to a list of functions WeBWorK understands on the sidebar of every assignment. For your convenience, clicking here will also take you to that list.
  8. You can view your scores by clicking on Grades.
  9. Almost every page in WeBWorK has an E-mail Instructor button. You can use this feature to e-mail me questions, explain how you did the problem, and ask what you did wrong. E-mailing through this button provides me with a link that takes me directly to your version of the question and lets me see how you typed in your responses. This helps me identify your issue and help you fix it faster.
Frequently Asked Questions
  1. My login and password don't seem to work.
    If it is early in the term (first week of classes), your account may not be set up yet, especially if you entered the course late. Look for an email sent to your hws.edu address to confirm that your account is ready, then try again.
    The login is case-sensitive. This means that if your login is jones and you type Jones or ABC4U, the system will not accept it. Be sure you are typing your login and password exactly as given.
    Please note that your initial password is your 8-digit HWS ID number. It is not your email password. After you log in you may change your password to whatever you wish (make sure it is something you will remember!).
  2. I changed my password, and now I forgot it! What do I do?
    Send me an email, and I will reset your password.
  3. How do I type in cos²x?
    If you are unsure how to type a certain expression, there is a link to a list of functions WeBWorK understands on the sidebar of every assignment. For your convenience, the WeBWorK Syntax website also has this list at the bottom of the page. (To enter cos²x, type (cos x)^2. To enter square root of 3, type sqrt(3).)
  4. I used my calculator to do a problem, and I'm certain the answer is 1.414, but WeBWorK says it's wrong. What's going on?
    WeBWorK expects exact answers whenever possible, or ones correct to 5 significant figures. So if the answer is the square root of 2, then 1.414 is not correct! Type in sqrt(2) instead.
  5. I clicked on Submit Answers, and it says I have 100% for the problem. Do I have to do anything else to get credit for the problem?
    No. WeBWorK automatically saves your score every time you click Submit Answers. In fact, it saves your highest score for each problem. So if you have say, 75% on a problem, then later change one of your correct answers to a wrong answer, it will still record your score as 75%.
  6. WeBWorK s@*%s! Why are you making us do this?
    Any computer-based system takes a bit of getting used to. Most students tell me that after some initial frustration, they ended up liking the system. The Math Intern and I are available to help if you have any problems.
    I assign problems on WeBWorK for several reasons:
    1. It is a good way for you to get instant feedback on whether you are doing problems correctly. It is a quick way to check that you are keeping up with class. With WeBWorK you can do problems of a computational nature, and I can focus on giving important feedback on your (shorter!) main exercises homework.
    2. WeBWorK generates different numbers in a problem for each student, so I can make sure everyone is understanding the material, not just copying answers.
    3. The system makes it very easy for students to stay in touch with me. While I would love it if the whole class could come to my office hours several times a week, I recognize that this is not always possible. But everyone can email me for help on a WeBWorK problem.

  7. I finally got the right answer after 7 tries. I'm exhausted! Does the fact that I did the problem wrong 6 times affect my grade?
    No. While the system does record the number of attempts for each student, I will not take this into account for your grade. The only thing that matters for WeBWorK assignments is how many correct answers you have.

Hobart and William Smith Colleges: Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
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