Professor: Creating and Using Tournaments to Gamify Your Course (Old Top Hat)

Want to engage your students in a friendly competition?

Looking for ways to gamify your classroom?


Top Hat’s Tournament module lets your students compete head-to-head to answer questions and review material in a fun and engaging way! They won't even notice that they're preparing for your exam...

Check out the following video tutorial to learn more, and then complete the accompanying exercises. All tolled, we anticipate you'll be ready to run a Top Hat Tournament in as little as 20 minutes!

This video will show you how to:

☐ Activate the Tournament Module

☐ Create a Tournament

☐ Run a Tournament in class 



When a tournament is activated, all students enrolled and online at that moment will be randomly paired off into pairs. Each pair will be assigned a random question from your Questions module. This will be round one of the tournament; tournaments can last for as many rounds as you have questions for!

For the next round, those students within each pairing who scored the higher point will be paired off with each other (again in groups of two), and those who scored the lower points will be paired off with each other. Each of the two students within these new pairs will compete with each other in answering the next question. This process continues until all rounds in the tournament have been played.

At the conclusion of the tournament, each student will see a ranking of the top 10 scorers. At the outset, they will have had a fun learning experience with their peers, and a much better idea of how well they understand the concepts and questions in your course.


Creating a Tournament

To create a tournament, first ensure that the tournament module is activated within your course’s settings. Then click the blue “Create” button within the tournaments module. This will bring up the “Add Tournament” pane.

The window will also show an option to click “Tournament immediately available”. You can select this option to launch the tournament immediately after creating it, or uncheck the box to schedule a tournament for a later time or to start the tournament manually.

The advanced settings allow you to adjust maximum attempts per question, the length of each round, participation and correctness weights, points for correct answer, points for quickest answer, and penalties for incorrect attempts.

  • Maximum attempts per question: this limits students' attempts.
  • Length of each round: this is the time in seconds that each round will last.
  • Participation weight: if a student participates in a tournament, they will automatically be awarded this grade. 
  • Correctness weight: depending on how many points each student scores in playing the tournament, they will be awarded a percentage of this correctness grade. 
  • Points for correct answer: for every correct answer to a question the student will be awarded this point. These 'points' only count for the Tournament; they will not show up in the Gradebook.
  • Points for quickest correct answer: the student that answers the question the quickest will be awarded this number of points. These 'points' only count for the Tournament; they will not show up in the Gradebook.
  • Penalty for incorrect attempt: the student will be penalized this many points every time they submit an incorrect answer to a question. If you have allowed for more than one attempt to answer a question, the student will be penalized this many points for every incorrect attempt that that student make in trying to answer each question. For example, if you have allowed for 3 attempts and assigned a 5-point penalty for incorrect answers, if a student tries and fails 3 times to answer a question, that student will be penalized 5 x 3 = 15 points for that question.

After clicking “Next,” you will be able to scroll through your Question bank and select the Questions you would like included in your tournament. You can also assign the number of rounds for your tournament.

Note: in order for students to see a unique question and opponent each round, the maximum number of rounds you can have is dependant on the number of questions you have. For example, if you have 30 questions, you are limited to a maximum of 15 rounds to ensure questions aren't repeated for students.

When ready, click “Save”.

Scheduling a Tournament

Immediately after clicking “Save” when you create your tournament, you will have the option to schedule it. Click “Schedule the tournament” and assign the desired date and time for your tournament and click “Save”.

Creating Practice Sessions

Immediately after clicking “Save” when you create your tournament, you will have the option to assign practice sessions as well. To assign one or more practice sessions, click “Create a practice session”.

You can then click “Add practice session”, as many times as you like, give each practice session a name, and select which questions you would like to include as part of that practice session.

Then click “Back” to go back to the tournament creation pane, and click “Done”.

 Your tournament is now created!


Enabling Practice Mode

Professor View

Your tournament(s) will be listed within the Tournaments module. To give students access to the practice mode, simply toggle the status of that tournament to “Practice Mode”.

Student View

When you have enabled practice mode, students will see that tournament become available to them.

The student can then click that tournament to view its details, and click “Begin Practice” to start the practice session.

The student would then see the Questions for that practice session, one at a time. For each Question, they will see the number of attempts they can have and how much time they have spent on that question. Students can submit their answers to the questions by clicking “Submit” or skip questions by clicking “Skip”.

When the student finishes answering the questions in the practice session, they will see a summary of which Questions answered correctly and incorrectly. The student also has the option to restart the practice session.

Playing the Tournament

Professor view

If you have not assigned a schedule for the tournament, you will want to start the tournament manually. You can do this by toggling the status of that tournament to “Play Tournament”.

Student view

On their web-enabled devices, students will see the username of the student they are competing with, which round they are in, how many rounds there are in the tournament, and how much time in seconds remain in the current round. They will also see their assigned Question.

Any incorrect attempts to answer will receive a red “X” icon (two in the screenshot below):

When both students answer their question for that round, both students will see a summary for the round which will include how many points they scored for that round, how many rounds they have completed so far, and how many points they have scored in total.

When the Tournament Ends

Professor view

When the tournament ends, the professor will see a ranking of the students in class.


The professor can switch to the “History” tab and, by selecting individual students from the “User” pull-down menu, can see a complete history of each student who participated in the tournament. The professor can also click “View Question” to see which questions that student was presented with during each round of the tournament.


The professor can also switch to the “Questions” tab. Here will be listed the questions that students answered in the tournament, and, for each question, a summary of how many students answered that question correctly/incorrectly. 


Student view

When the tournament ends, each student will also see a ranking of the top ten students in class, and where that students stands relative to the other students.


The student can also switch to the “History” tab to view a summary of how many rounds the tournament lasted for, how many attempts she/he made in answering the question in each round, and how many points the student scored in each round. The student can also click “View Question” for each round to see a preview of the question for that round.

It is possible to create a Tournament Practice Mode, this allows students to practice without timers or an opponent. The students are still limited in the number of attempts, but they are able to see how long it takes to answer the question. If students are stuck in practice mode, they are able to skip the question.

For Tournament grading, please refer to the hyperlink.


If you need any additional support, please feel free to reach out to us. The easiest way to get in touch with us is to click Support at the bottom left-hand corner of your screen (when logged into your Top Hat Account) or click the 'Submit a Request' button in the top right-hand corner of this screen. You can also drop us a line; 1-888-663-5491 ext 1 or shoot us an email at We are happy to help resolve any issues!