Introduction to WeBWorK for Students

  1. What is WeBWorK?

    WeBWorK is a system developed at the University of Rochester that allows professors to put homework problems on the web and allows students to submit their answers over the web. Students may try each homework problem as many times as they like, and, with each try, there is a message telling the student whether the answer is correct or not. There is no penalty for submitting several incorrect answers to a problem before submitting the correct answer. This allows students to find their own errors and to understand the topic of the question better. The WeBWorK homework sets are individualized so that each student has a different version of each problem. For example, the numerical values in a problem will be slightly different for each student.

  2. How to use WeBWorK to do your homework

    1. Find a computer with internet access. It can be either your own or one in any of Union’s computer labs.
    2. Open an internet browser and go to the main WeBWorK homepage. The address is: You can also link to this from the Math Department homepage:
    3. On that page you will see names of current WeBWorK courses, as well as a link to this document (at the bottom of the page). Clicking on the number of your course and section will get you to the main page for your course. To log in, fill in your username (this is the same as your Union username for e-mail — e.g. smithj for John Smith) and your password (this is just your Union ID number), and click on the 'Continue' button. Even if you used WeBWorK in a previous term, your initial password at the start of a new course is your Union ID number.
    4. You should now be looking at a page headed by the course title and term that lists the homework sets that are available for you to work on. To do the Orientation homework set, for example, click on the link 'Orientation' in the 'Name' column.
    5. In the 'Status' column, each set is marked as open, closed, or not open yet. If the set is open, that means that when you solve a problem, it will be counted towards your grade. If the set is closed, you can still solve problems and get your answers checked, but your results will not be recorded.

      After the indication of whether the set is open or closed, there is additional information about the due date (if the set is open), or whether the answers are available (if the set is closed). When the answers are available, you have the option of looking at correct answers when viewing a problem.

    6. After you have clicked on a homework set, you will see a page with a list of the problems in the set you chose. To view and/or answer a problem, click on that problem in the 'Problem Number' list.
    7. Once you click on a problem, you will see the text of the problem with boxes for your answers. After working out the problem on paper, enter your answers in the boxes and click on the 'Submit Answers' button. You will want to save the paper on which you work out the problems, because this is part of what you will need to study for quizzes and exams.
    8. When you submit an answer, you will immediately be told whether your answer is correct or not. If your answer is not correct, you can try again. After you've tried a problem, you can use the buttons at the top of the page to go to the next problem or the previous problem, or to see the list of problems again. If you are working on a homework set that is already closed, you will have the option to see the correct answer. To see the correct answer, just check the box 'Show correct answers' and click on the 'Check Answers' button (you do not have to enter an answer to see the correct answer).

      If your answer is marked incorrect by the computer and you are not sure what it thinks you have entered, check the 'Answer Preview' column that appears at the top of the page once you have submitted an answer. The computer shows you how it is interpreting your answer.

      If you want to check the status of your problems (e.g. to double check that your answers have been recorded), use the 'Prob. List' button at the top of the problem page to see the problem list page. The problem list page shows how much credit you have for each problem that you have attempted.

      When you are ready to stop working, log out by clicking on 'Log Out' at the top right corner of the page or towards the top of the left panel. All of your answers to date will be saved. You do not have to finish a homework set all in one sitting.

    9. There are four links at the left of the page in the red panel that are available to you at all times during a WeBWorK session.

      • 'Homework sets' takes you to the list of available sets (the page you saw immediately after you logged in).
      • 'Password/Email' takes you to a page where you can reset your password (you should do this before logging out from your first session) and the email address used by WeBWorK to contact you. Since your instructor may use the WeBWorK system to contact you by email, you should set this email address to whatever account you normally use.
      • 'Grades' takes you to a summary of your grades for WeBWorK assignments.
      • 'Log Out' closes your connection to WeBWorK.

      Also available to you at all times is an 'Email instructor' button, at the bottom of every WeBWorK page.

    10. If you want to get a printout of a homework set, you can do so as follows:

      Click on 'Homework Sets' in the red lefthand panel. To print out a particular set, click in the box next to that set in the 'Sel.' column (to "select" the set), and then click 'Download Hardcopy for Selected Set'. You will be taken to the Hardcopy Generator page. Check that the desired set is highlighted, and then click the 'Generate Hardcopy' button at the bottom of the page. Wait patiently for a few moments for the server to generate the page, and then print it.

    (Modified Dec 2013, PF)