Installing R/exams
R/exams logo (CC-BY-SA | GPL-2).

Installing R/exams

Installation guide for R itself and the R package "exams" as well as further open-source tools that are required for certain tasks.

1. R

The R/exams system is an extension for the R system for statistical computing and hence the first installation step is the base R system.

  • Windows and (Mac) OS X: Go to, the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN). Simply click on the link for your operating system and at least install the “base” system. It is recommended to also install the accompanying “Rtools” which are not always needed immediately but, e.g., necessary for producing zip files for some learning management systems.
  • Linux: While it is possible to download from CRAN by hand, it is easier for most distributions to install the packaged binary. For example, on Debian/Ubuntu:

    apt-get install r-base-core r-base-dev

There is a wide variety of interfaces for using R including simply the shell, Emacs, or dedicated graphical user interfaces for Windows and OS X, respectively. Moreover, RStudio is an open-source cross-platform integrated development environment that facilitates many common tasks for R beginners.

2. R package “exams”

The core of R/exams is the open-source R package “exams”, also available from CRAN. It can be easily installed interactively from within R with a single command. If necessary, the development version of the package is also available, which may provide some new features or small improvements.

  • Stable version:

    install.packages("exams", dependencies = TRUE)
  • Development version:

    install.packages("exams", repos = "")

Details: Several additional R packages, automatically installed by the command above, are needed for certain tasks: base64enc (HTML-based output: Base64 encoding of supplements), knitr (R/Markdown-based exercises), png (NOPS exams: reading scanned PNG images), RCurl (ARSnova: posting exercises), RJSONIO (ARSnova: JSON format), rmarkdown (pandoc-based conversion), tth (HTML output from R/LaTeX exercises).

3. LaTeX

For producing PDF output, the typesetting system LaTeX is used internally by R/exams.

  • Windows: Go to and click on “Download” to obtain the MikTeX distribution for Windows.
  • (Mac) OS X and Linux: LaTeX distributions are available in the standard repositories and can be installed in the “usual” way, typically using the TeX Live distribution.

4. Pandoc

For certain conversions performed internally in R/exams, specifically when Markdown is involved, the universal document converter pandoc is employed. If you have installed RStudio, then pandoc is provided along with it and nothing else needs to be done.

Otherwise pandoc can be obtained from its web page (linked above) or standard repositories, e.g., for Debian/Ubuntu:

apt-get install pandoc

Optional: Further scanning tools

Note: Unless you want to process written NOPS exams from scanned PDF files, this section can be skipped.

If the scanned images of written NOPS exams (from your photocopier) are in PDF format, they need to be converted to PNG first using the PDF Toolkit pdftk and ImageMagick’s convert.

Make sure everything works

To check that the software from Steps 1-4 works, try to run some examples from the exercise template gallery, e.g., dist or ttest.