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Blackboard Testing Tips

Very Important!

Very important: If your instructor gives you a time block of one, two, or several days to complete an exam, do not wait until the last minute to do it. Should any technical problems arise; you’re less likely to get them solved at the end of an examination time block. Your instructor might also be less sympathetic.

Before you start the test:

  • Be certain that you are ready to take the test & set aside time in which you will be free
    from interruptions BEFORE clicking on the link to the test. Most tests can only be accessed
    once and when you click on the link to start the test, you will not be able to come back and finish
    it later.
  • Find out the dates that the test will be available in the course & don’t wait until the last
    minute to take the test! Most tests will be available only during a certain time period, so
    contact your instructor to find out if there is a deadline for taking the test.
  • Find a reliable computer & once you start a test, finish it without leaving! Use a reliable
    computer with a high speed Internet connection (DSL or cable) if possible. Leaving a test that
    you have started can cause you to be locked out of the test, so once you start a test plan on
    finishing it.
  • Blackboard Session timeout -The default timeout for a Blackboard session is 3 hours. It is not
    affected by activity. If a student has been in a Blackboard session for 2 hours before the test and
    then begins the test is possible to get a timeout after one additional hour.
  • ISP timeout – Many Internet Service Provider (ISP) connections are set up to automatically
    disconnect when no activity is detected for a particular length of time (15, 20 minutes or so).
    When you are doing tests/surveys in Blackboard, although you are clicking answers and maybe
    typing responses, this activity is not detected by the ISP. If it takes longer than the time-out period
    for you to take the test, the Internet connection will be down when you try to submit. The test
    won’t submit, and you will be locked out of your test. You should remember to click the Save
    button at the bottom periodically while taking a test. Although this won’t necessarily save
    your answers in case there is some other problem, it will establish some connection with the
    Blackboard server, so the ISP will detect activity and not time out. You will need to click Submit at
    the end of the test.

Preparing your Computer:

  • Close down all other programs running on your computer. Do not take a test with other
    applications running in the background, such as movies, music, e-mail, or IM (instant messaging).
  • Have multiple browsers available. It is recommended that you install multiple browsers on your
    computer. If something doesn’t work in one browser, it will typically work in another. Blackboard
    recommends Mozilla Fire Fox and Google Chrome and Safari.
  • Disable pop-up blockers. Pop-up blockers might block an exam from opening in Blackboard
    exams. Your instructor has the option of opening your exam within Blackboard or in a new
    window. If the exam is set to open in a new window, your browser might treat it as a pop-up.
  • Disable firewalls before taking the test if you are taking an exam from a computer or computer
    network that has a firewall installed.
  • Time considerations. Blackboard times out after 3 hours of inactivity. Your Internet Service
    Provider might time out sooner with no activity. Save your answers or the exam frequently.
    Saving resets the inactivity clock, but not the exam clock.
  • Dial-up users. If you use a “dial-up modem” to connect to the Internet, turn off “call waiting” and
    if you use the same line for voice calls, make sure no one picks of the phone and disconnects
    you from the Internet.
  • Check Internet connection. When deciding on a time to take your exam, take into account times
    when your connection seems to slow down or lose connectivity. These issues can cause your
    exam to disconnect, possibly making you lose your work.
  • Wireless: Use a wired high-speed connection (not wireless).

Taking the Exam:

  • Read your instructor’s policy. If your instructor has a policy on how she will deal with students who claim
    that technical problems prohibit them from submitting exams properly, read that policy carefully. It might be
    located in the course syllabus.
  • Click Begin. Once you do so, you may begin your exam.
  • Allow the page to load completely before answering questions. The page may take a moment or two to
    load completely. If you begin scrolling or answering questions before it loads completely, it might not load all
    of the questions and they might go unanswered.
  • Read the exam instructions carefully. The exam instructions tell you exactly how to take the exam, and
    will include any special instructions that your instructor might have included. Any instructions about back
    tracking, forced completion, and multiple attempts will be listed here.
    • Force Completion: Once you begin the exam, you are required to complete it in one session. As
      soon as you leave the exam by clicking elsewhere, you will not be able to access it again. For
      exams that deliver all of the questions on one page, if you did not save any answers or save the
      exam, none of your answers will be recorded.
    • Allow Multiple Attempts: You may start and stop the exam as many times as you wish (within the
      total time limit for the exam if there is one). Once you finish the exam you will need to click Save
      and Submit for your score to be recorded.
    • All at Once: If all of the exam questions appear on the page at once, the Save Answer button will
      appear next to each question. It is a good idea to click Save Answer after each question
      answered, in case of technical difficulties. Saved answers will be recorded.
    • One at a Time: If the exam is in this mode, the Save Answer button will be displayed for each
      question. Again, it is good practice to save after each question. Click the forward arrow once you
      are done with the question. Once you move to the next question, the previous answer will be
      saved and recorded. If you click the double-forward arrow, you will skip to the last question.
      Conversely, clicking the double-back arrow brings you back to the first question.
  • When using a mouse with a scroll wheel, be careful with scrolling. Always click a blank
    area on the test before using the scroll wheel. This will insure you do not inadvertently change
    an answer on the test.
  • Save your work often during the test using the Save button. While taking an online test it is
    a good idea to save your work periodically. To save your test answers, you can either save each
    question individually by clicking on Save on the right, or by scrolling to the bottom right of the
    screen and clicking on the Save button after every 4-5 questions. When you have answered all
    the questions, you should review your answers, then click on Save again. Only click the Save
    button once, wait for the screen to re-appear, and then continue.
  • Compose your essay in the text editor of Blackboard. Do not use cut and paste from MS Word.
    (You may use a simple text editor like Notepad for Windows and TextEdit for the MAC.)
  • Do Not:
    • Use a word processor for essay answers. When cutting and pasting essay answers from a Word
      processor, you can inadvertently copy hidden computer code that will prevent your answer from
      displaying to the instructor during exam grading.
    • Double-click when starting a test. After clicking on the link to start a test, wait until the
      test has completely loaded before answering any questions. If a student double-clicks on
      the link to a test, Blackboard reads the first click as an attempt to take the test and the
      second click as a second attempt, and will therefore block access. Students will then
      need to contact the instructor.
    • Open any other windows, surf the net, or visit any other websites while taking a
      test or your work may be lost. Do not click outside the test area during an exam, such as
      clicking on the “Announcements” or Course Materials” buttons. Clicking outside the test
      area will cause Blackboard to kick you out of the exam before you have completed it.
    • Click the Back button or the Refresh button on your web browser. Use the Arrow
      keys to navigate within a test. Using the Back button can kick you out of the exam
      prematurely. Instead, use the scroll bar to move back to check earlier questions.
    • Click Submit, Next or Save more than once. It may take a few moments to receive
      confirmation or move to the next question. Clicking more than once can actually slow
      down the loading and can cause test errors.
    • Close the window of the test for any reason.

Submitting the exam (once you have answered all the questions):

  • Review all of your answers before submitting the test. Make sure you have not accidentally
    changed your response to a question or made a typographical mistake, then save your work one
    final time.
  • Make sure to click the Submit button when you are done with the test (scroll to the bottom of
    the page) or you will not get credit for your answers. The Save button will save your work, but
    only the Submit button will submit your test and allow your work to be graded. You will receive
    confirmation that your test has been submitted successfully.
  • Click Submit ONLY ONCE. It may take several moments for your test to be submitted
    successfully, so do NOT click Submit more than once. Also, do NOT close your browser or exit
    the test until you receive a confirmation from Blackboard that it has been successfully submitted.
  • You should check the My Grades area in your Blackboard course to confirm exam
    submission. If you see a grade/score or a green exclamation point (!), then the submission was
    successful, and you are done. If you see an Attempt in Progress icon, then you should contact
    your instructor and ask for verification. If anything happened to your browser or Internet
    connection during the exam, or you received any error messages, include this information with
    your email to the instructor.
  • Accidentally quitting the exam. If you lose power or close your browser–or something else
    causes you to stop taking the exam before you submit it–contact your instructor immediately to
    get instructions. Make sure to include details as to what caused the problem.
  • If you get locked out of a test, or receive a message saying that you have already completed
    the test or that the test in still in progress, you will need to contact your Instructor. If your
    instructor resets the exam for you to take again, this clears any answers you have entered
    previously and you must start from the beginning of the test.

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