Course & Lesson Failure


Courses and lessons can be set up to allow failure if a learner does not meet the pass requirements. This guide will explain the differences between course failure and lesson failure, and the potential next steps for users who fail. It will also describe how failure functions with the different kinds of assessments available in Absorb LMS, including third party assessments.

Course Failure vs. Lesson Failure

Failure can be set at the course level under the COMPLETION tab for both Online Courses and Instructor-Led Courses. The ALLOW FAILURE toggle will reveal a further option to ALLOW RE-ENROLLMENT ON FAILURE, which will allow users to re-enroll in a course that they have failed after a selected period of time. 


Failure can also be set specifically at the level of the lesson. When editing an Assessment learning object, the ALLOW FAILURE toggle can be found under the OPTIONS tab. You will have different options here than you see at the course level, with three possibilities if failure is enabled:

  1. DO NOTHING: Users will be marked as failed and will not be able to re-take the lesson unless multiple attempts are allowed.
  2. RESET ALL LESSONS: All lessons of the course will be reset to Not Started upon failure of this lesson.
  3. ALLOW RE-TAKE AFTER: Allow users to re-take the lesson after a set number of days. The amount of days can be set from a drop down menu that appears upon selecting this option, visible in the image below. 

Absorb Assessments

If you are using the ASSESSMENT lesson object offered by Absorb, failure is achieved by not reaching the required GRADE TO PASS (set under the DETAILS tab of the assessment's settings). If the assessment has been configured to ALLOW MULTIPLE ATTEMPTS (set up in the OPTIONS tab), the lesson will be marked as failed when the user has reached the maximum number of attempts without a passing score. 

Note: if no maximum is entered under ALLOW MULTIPLE ATTEMPTS, the user will effectively have an infinite number of attempts. This will prevent them from ever being marked as failed at the lesson level. 

Third Party Assessments

When it comes to third-party SCORM, AICC, or Tin Can assessments, the LMS plays a relatively passive role in determining failure. Pass/failing criteria such as minimum passing score and/or multiple attempts will be configured in the third-party assessment, and the assessment will tell the LMS which status to apply to the learner's attempt at the lesson. The following are the four most common lesson status messages sent by third-party courses:
  • Complete/Incomplete: the lesson will either be marked as COMPLETE or IN PROGRESS
  • Pass/Incomplete: the lesson will either be marked as COMPLETE or IN PROGRESS
  • Complete/Fail: the lesson will either be marked as COMPLETE or FAILED
  • Pass/Fail:  the lesson will either be marked as COMPLETE or FAILED
Please note: Any time you are working with third-party assessments, you will want to ensure you enable the LESSON CONTAINS ASSESSMENT toggle to ensure proper tracking of question/answer data as well as quiz scores. While failure is determined by the third-party course at the lesson level, this is still compatible with the course-level failure as indicated above.
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