Test-Taking Tips

Getting Your Computer Ready

It is the student’s responsibility to have access to a computer with a reliable Internet connection and a computer that is compliant with recommended browsers and settings in order to effectively utilize Blackboard.  Blackboard Support does not provide technical support for making sure a student’s computer settings are compliant with the recommended configuration settings.  If a student’s computer does not work properly, it is the student’s responsibility to either acquire or locate a computer to use that meets the recommended configuration settings.

  • Make sure your computer has the latest updates installed.  Click here to check your browser and your browser’s plugins.  Scroll the entire page.
  • JAVA – Again, make sure you have the latest version of JAVA. Check again to see that it is working properly.
  • Browser Recommendations – Click here and then scroll to the end of the page for browser recommendations.   Please note that Blackboard, Inc., recommends using Firefox, especially for test-taking within Blackboard.
  • Security – Make sure you have http://blackboard.se.edu added as a Trusted Site. To do that, open the Internet and select Tools > Internet Options > Security > Trusted Sites > Sites and add http://blackboard.se.edu.
  • Clear the Memory Cache before accessing the test.   Click here for Firefox.   For Internet Explorer, select Tools > Internet Options > Delete > Delete > OK.  For Safari, select “Empty Cache,” located under the Safari menu.
  • Enable your browser’s status bar so you can see the timer, in case the test is timed.  To enable it in Firefox, select View  >  Status Bar (make sure it is checked).  To enable it in Internet Explorer, select View > Toolbars > Status Bar (make sure it is checked).
  • Disable Firewalls before taking the test if you are taking an exam from a computer or computer network that has a firewall installed.
  • Internet Connections – Dial-up, satellite, and wireless Internet connections (such as public & home networks, cellular air cards, WiFi, etc.), and/or mobile devices (such as the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Kindle, Book Nook, Blackberry, Android, etc., etc., etc.) are NOT recommended for accessing and taking tests in Blackboard.  A wired connection is the most reliable and should be used for taking online tests.  Note:  If you must use a wireless connection, make sure you have a strong connection signal.  If you do 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.
  • Firefox or Internet Explorer?  In terms of system requirements, Firefox has been a more reliable browser when using Blackboard, especially for taking tests.  Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you use Firefox for test taking.  Click herefor a free download.
    • America Online (AOL) is not officially compatible with Blackboard. If you are using AOL to access the Internet, once the connection is made, minimize the AOL window and use either Firefox or Internet Explorer.
  • Make sure your computer is free of viruses and/or spy ware by running anti-virus & anti-spyware software regularly.
  • Close all programs except Blackboard and keep them closed during the test!  Do not take a test with other applications running in the background, such as Facebook, iTunes, Google, WeatherBug, movies, music, email, instant messaging, etc.
  • Verify that you have the minimum Blackboard System Requirements.

Before Starting the Test

  • Find a reliable computer with a reliable Internet connection.  A high-speed Internet connection is recommended.  See instructions above.
  • Know the dates that the test will be available.  Do not wait until the last minute to take it.  Most tests will be available during a “window of opportunity,” so refer to the syllabus or contact the instructor for specific dates and times of availability.
  • Set aside time in which you will be free from interruptionsMost tests can only be accessed once.
  • Read the test instructions carefully.  Each test may be set up differently by your instructors.  The options for each test will be listed at the top in the Instructions area when you access the test. 

    • Most tests can only be taken once, but some may be taken more than once.  Read the instructions carefully.
    • Most tests require that you finish them in one sitting (force completion).  Read the instructions carefully.
    • Most tests are timed.  Read the instructions carefully.  Timed tests will display a timer, so watch it carefully.  If your computer does not have the necessary plugins per the browser checker above, the timer will not appear.  Therefore, have a back-up clock just in case.  Some instructors may choose the option to have the timed test automatically save your answers and then submit your test when the time expires.   If so, the test will “disappear” at that time.  If the instructor does not choose that option, the test will remain available past the time limit, but you may be penalized for going over the time limit.  Again, read the instructions carefully.
    • Most tests present the questions all at once.  This allows you to access the entire test and move freely item to item.  Some tests present questions one-at-a-time and you are not allowed to return to a previous question.  Regardless of how the questions are presented, refer to the “During the Test” information below.

During the Test 

  • Do not double-click the button to start the test.  After clicking on the button to start it, wait until the test has completely loaded before beginning to answer any questions.  If you double-click to begin the test, Blackboard reads the first click as an attempt to take the test and the second click as a second attempt, resulting in your access being blocked.
  • Do not open any other programs, 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 other navigation buttons (Announcements, Course Content, etc.), or Blackboard will kick you out of the test before you have completed it.
  • Do not click the Back, Forward, or Refresh buttons on your browser.  This can cause you to lose your Internet connection, as well as your test.  Use the buttons located on the Blackboard screen, or the arrow keys and scroll bar, to move back to check earlier questions.
  • The Blackboard server reserves a certain amount of memory for assessment features. Because this memory is “limited,” the server will time out after 20 minutes if it detects no activity while taking a test, thus “kicking the student out of the test.”  In addition, your Internet Service Provider’s timing-out feature may also have an impact.  Check with your Internet Service Provider for additional information.
  • Click Submit, Next, or Save one time only!  It may take a few minutes to receive confirmation or move to the next question.  Clicking more than once can actually slow down the loading and cause test errors.
  • Do not re-size the test window after accessing the test.  Make sure your screen is maximized before you begin the test.
  • When using a mouse with a scroll wheel, always click a blank area on the test before using the scroll wheel.  This will insure that you do not inadvertently change an answer on the test.
  • Closing the test window for any reason will disconnect you from the test, resulting in a loss of your answers.  You will then need to contact your instructor.
  • Weather conditions and/or power surges, etc., can obviously affect your connectivity.  If these conditions cause problems with your taking a test, contact your instructor immediately and provide specific details, such as the date and time of the outage.  Many times, you can avoid these situations by planning ahead, taking the test early, and not waiting until the last minute.
  • Essay Questions – Compose essay answers in MS Word, and then copy and paste each answer into the text box of the Blackboard essay test.  Please note that some formatting loss may occur, but you will have a backup of your answers.  Click the Save button after each answer.  Refer to your syllabus and/or instructor for specific instructions regarding essay exams.
  • For tests other than essay, save after every four or five answers.
  • For timed tests, warnings appear when half the time, 5 minutes, 1 minute, and 30 seconds remain.  You are also notified when time expires, and depending on the instructor’s choice of settings, you may be allowed to continue past the time limit.  Or, your instructor may set the test to automatically save your answers and then automatically submit your test when the time expires.  Read the directions carefully! 
  • Click the Submit button one time when you are finished with the test. It may take several moments for your test to be submitted, so do not click Submit more than once.  Once your test is submitted, you will receive a confirmation that it was successfully submitted.  Feel free to copy and paste that information for documentation purposes.  Note:  If you click the Save button, your test will be saved but not submitted.

If You Experience Testing Issues

  • Contact your instructor immediately if you get locked out of a test during the allowed testing time, if you receive a message saying that you have already completed the test, or if you receive a message saying the test is still in progress.  If your instructor resets the exam for you to take again, Blackboard will clear all previous answers and you must start from the beginning of the test.  Do not contact Bb Tech Support to reset your test.  Only your instructor can reset the test.
  • After successfully submitting your test, select Student Tools > My Grades, located on the left side of the page, to view your test score.  However, if the test contained question types other than multiple choice, true/false, or matching, your test will need to be manually graded by your instructor before you can see your grade.

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