How to Use Item Sets

This article explains how to create item sets in Surpass. Item sets behave in a similar way to folders in 'Item Authoring'. However, once an item is placed in an item set, it creates a friend relationship between all the items that make up the set. This means that adding an item from an item set to a test will automatically include all the item set's other items. For more information, see the Best Practice When Using Item Sets article.

Note: Item sets are created in the 'Item Authoring' screen and are only recommended for use in fixed tests.

Step 1: Create an item set

Within your subject in 'Item Authoring', select the 'New Item Set' button.


Your item set will appear in your list of items and folders.

Step 2: Edit the item set

Select the item set to open a screen where you can change its properties.


Here, you can rename the item set, add shared information, and apply any set-level tags. By default, your item set will be called 'My Item Set'. Alternatively, right-click on the item set's icon in the items column to rename or delete it. Deleting the item set will send it, and any contained items, to the system's Recycle Bin.

You can add shared information to the item set in the stem box. This information is inherited by all items within the set, and appears above the question text of each item. If any of the items in the set are set to 'Live', they need to be republished to inherit the shared information.


You can choose whether your item set is randomisable in Item Authoring using the ‘Allow randomisation of item set’ setting.

If you select this option, then the order of delivery of the items within the item set will be randomised if the set is placed in a randomised section. The items within the item set will appear consecutively but will be randomised amongst themselves. If you do not select this option, the order of the items within the item set will remain the same as it is in Item Authoring. However, the position of the item set within the section will be randomised in delivery.

Note: Information pages within an item set will always appear first if an item set is randomisable and placed in a randomised section. If the item set is not set to be randomisable, then information pages will continue to appear in their position within the item set in Item Authoring.

You can also fix the order of items in an item set using the 'Fix the order of items' setting. As the order of items in an item set is the order of delivery, fixing the order in Item Authoring prevents that order from being rearranged in the item tree.

Items within a fixed item set can still be edited, but no items can be added or removed from the set for as long as it is fixed.  

You can choose to edit the tag groups associated with the item set by selecting the relevant tag group (e.g., 'Learning Outcomes'). Any tags added to the item set will be shared with all its items. If you remove tags at item set level, they will be removed from all of the set's items.

You can also add enemy relationships to an item set. Item sets can be enemies with items and other item sets. Any enemy relationships of the item set will be shared with all its items. If you remove the enemy relationship at item set level, this will be removed from all of the set's items. To keep an enemy relationship between an item in a set and another item, ensure they have an enemy relationship at the individual item level.


Step 3: Place items into the item set

From your list of items, select the item(s) you wish to add to the item set and drag them into the set by moving them directly over it. An indented orange line will appear underneath the item set icon (see below). If the orange line is not indented (i.e., it spans the entire items column), your items will be placed below, rather than inside, the item set. Once you release your items in the correct place, they will appear in the item set's structure, which you can expand or collapse like a folder.


Items in an item set will, by default, appear in the same order as in ‘Item Authoring’. You can change this using the ‘Allow randomisation of item set’ setting in ‘Item Authoring’ (see Step 2).

Note: Introduction, Finish, and Sample pages cannot be added to an item set. However, Information pages can be added.

When you are authoring/editing an item, you can see the tags and enemy relationships it has inherited from the item set.


Tags and enemy relationships inherited from an item set will be in a read-only view when authoring/editing the item, and can only be edited at the item set level.


Step 4: Adding item sets to a test (Test Wizard)

In the 'Items' section of the 'Test Wizard', choose your item set from your list of items and select the arrow to continue. You will then be asked whether you want to confirm or cancel your decision. Alternatively, you can select any item from an item set to add to your test. You will be informed that your item is part of an item set and that all items in that set will also be added to your test.


Your item set will now appear in the list of items that make up the test. The total number of items in the set is listed in brackets and the slashed numbers (e.g., '1/4') indicate the positions the items will occupy in the test (in this example, positions one to four).

Note: You are unable to re-order items within an item set in the 'Test Wizard'.


Step 5: Adding item sets to a test (Test Creation)

In 'Test Creation', search for your item set using the search parameters. 

Once you have added the item set to a fixed section, it will be visible within the test form structure. For more information about using item sets in a test, please see this article.


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