Blackboard: Test Tips

Online test taking and publishing is often a high-pressure affair.  Test delivery and configuration is a complex process, as browsers are handling a lot of functionality and content at once.  The below practices can help ensure a smooth testing experience for both students and instructors.

For Students

Alert your instructor immediately if you have problems during an exam.

If you experience difficulty while taking an online exam, contact your instructor immediately via email and inform them of your situation.  Be sure to include the time, course ID, and assessment title in your email.

Internet disruptions, power failures, browser crashes and system bugs are some of the events that can occur during a test.  To protect yourself from the impacts of these potential problems, follow the below steps.

  1. Do not use a mobile device to take an exam.  Use Chrome or Firefox on a laptop or desktop computer.
  2. If you experience trouble during an exam, First, contact your instructor immediately to let them know you are having trouble. Then, try one or more of the following: 1) quit/close the browser and reopen it, 2) restart your computer, or 3) delete your browser’s cookies, restart the browser, and log in again to resume the exam.
  3. Start Blackboard tests with a fresh log-in session and a reliable connection.
    So, close all windows of your browser (Chrome or Firefox), restart it, and log in just before beginning your test.
  4. Be sure your Wi-Fi signal is stable, such as the UVM Wi-Fi network. A cable connection is also stable. An unstable Wi-Fi signal can cause a drop that will close your Blackboard test.
  5. Compose paragraphs, essays, and other longer text responses outside of Blackboard.  Composing in a text editor such as Word, NotePad, or TextEdit (and pasting or uploading it to Blackboard) allows you to save your work on your computer, and will prevent the loss of work in the event of a network disruption, power outage, computer/browser crash, session timeout, or other unforeseen event.
  6. Keyboarding “Oopsies!”. Below is a list of common keystrokes that might accidentally take you out of your test session in the middle of typing. Possible test-killing keystrokes include:
    • the “Backspace” button on your keyboard
    • the “Enter” button on your keyboard
    • the “Back” button on your browser
    • the “Tab” button on your keyboard
    • the “Delete” button on your keyboard
  7. Save answers as you go. Make sure you save EVERY answer before moving on to the next question.
  8. Don’t confuse your browser, computer, or Blackboard.
    • If possible, have only the browser window where you are taking the exam open. Closing all others unrelated browser windows will give you the best chance of completing your test without errors.
    • Make sure there is only one Blackboard session per browser open at a time. In other words, do not have one window open while you are taking an exam and another open for course navigation. The multiple logins may cause problems – including breaking the “Save Answer” buttons. If you need to navigate your course during an exam (i.e. if it’s “open book”), use a different browser, such as Chrome or Firefox.
    • While you are taking your exam you should close other programs or applications that are not essential for completing your exam (e.g. chat programs, iTunes/Spotify, Microsoft Outlook and Apple Mail).
Accessing your grades

Not all tests are graded automatically, and your instructor may not release grades and feedback immediately. This soundless video [56s] illustrates how to access your feedback and grades once they have been posted.

For Instructors

Following these best practices will ensure a smooth testing experience for your students.

  1. Do not enable the Force Completion option on a test unless you know students will be in a room with you on campus taking the exam. You may need to reset their attempt or add an exception allowing them extra time if they encounter computer, browser, network, or other problems over the course of the attempt.
  2. Set the test options to display one question at a time, instead of all at once. This is especially important in longer tests, but it is also likely to improve the student experience in shorter exams as well.
  3. If a student reports their connection is dropped during an exam attempt, you can review the test access log for that attempt. You can provide additional attempts to a student by adding an availability exception in the test options.
  4. Be ready to allow more time or attempts on the test if students are allowed to take it on their own time and on their own computer. See the test availability exceptions section in the test options.


Updated on December 5, 2018

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