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Tips for Taking a Test in Blackboard: Students

On occasion, student assessment sessions in Blackboard are interrupted, leaving students with unfinished, sometimes un-submitted, exams.  To fix this situation, instructors have to submit the attempt on the student’s behalf, allow the student an additional attempt to complete the exam, or clear the student’s current, aborted attempt in order for the student to retake the exam from the beginning.  While the occasional dropped session is unavoidable and to be expected, here are some recommendations and tips for students that will minimize the occurrence of this issue. 

Preparing for a Test

  • Avoid taking assessments on a mobile device.  Not only is the display tiny, making it difficult to read and to accurately select the intended response and/or buttons (Save, Submit, progress to next question), the Bb mobile app does not support all of the available question types and Blackboard’s Original Experience format does not support mobile browsers, leading to various technical difficulties.   
  • Use a high speed, wired Internet connection.  Wireless connections, even when on campus, are much more susceptible to disruptions, which can cause an assessment session to be lost.  Please note that the length of the service disruption is irrelevant—if the network drops for even an instant, your session can terminate.
  • Use a certified browser.  Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are the recommended browsers for use with Blackboard.
    • NOTE: Modern browser are frequently updated and with every update there's a chance of new software defects (bugs).  Though it vastly decreases the likelihood of problems, use of a recommended browser is not guaranteed to prevent all possible issues.
  • Check for operating system and browser updates well before you intend to begin a test and allow any updates to run before rebooting your computer.   
  • Terminate any existing Blackboard sessions (logout), clear the browser cache, and restart the browser before logging back into Blackboard to begin the test.  Call the IT Service Desk (740-593-1222) for questions about clearing browser cache.

During an Assessment

  • Close all applications that are not essential to completing the assessment.
  • Size your browser window before entering the test.  Re-sizing the browser window while in the test can cause a refresh, which could inadvertently submit the attempt or interrupt the session.
  • Avoid having multiple open browser windows/tabs altogether, but especially those containing any sessions of Blackboard (e.g. to reference content from the course).  Depending on the configuration of test options, if one of these other sessions are activated, even unintentionally, the system may immediately submit the assessment attempt, regardless of your progress.  Even when force completion is not activated, simultaneous sessions can create a conflict with the Blackboard database, causing one or all of the sessions to crash, freeze, or submit early.  In any of these situations, you may be locked out of the exam until you contact the instructor to request a new attempt. 
  • Do not attempt to navigate away from your exam without clicking the “Save All Answers” button.  If you do try to navigate to another area of the course or to another website, the exam will submit automatically whether you’ve saved all of your progress or not.  You will end up with a partial submission and will not be able to re-enter the exam attempt to finish it. 
    • NOTE: An exception to this is when the instructor has disabled the “Force Completion” setting, which would allow you to leave the exam unfinished and return later to submit it.  The assessment instructions should specify whether you must finish the exam in one session. 
    • NOTE: Test timers run continuously from the initiation of the attempt, regardless of activity, and will continue counting down the remaining time even if you leave the attempt, whether intentionally, by saving responses and navigating away, or unintentionally, such as if you lose connectivity or your device reboots for an update.   
  • Avoid using the scroll wheel on a mouse or the gesture scrolling on a laptop track pad when scrolling on an exam page.  Doing so can result in inadvertent changes to your selected responses.
  • Avoid these possible “test-killing” keystrokes:
    • "Backspace" or "Delete" keys
    • "Enter" key
    • "Tab" key
  • Do not use the browser’s “back,” “forward,” or “refresh” buttons.  Use only the Question Completion Status bar or the question progression arrows within the test window to advance or backtrack (when allowed).
  • Do not double-click the link to begin the test or any buttons in the test, including the question progression arrows and the Submit button.
  • It’s fine to type your responses in a plain text editor (e.g. Notepad or Text Edit) and copy/paste them into Blackboard, but never copy from Microsoft Word, Pages, or any other word processing application Along with the text, the processor’s formatting code will also be pasted into Bb.  Although it’s usually invisible, the code can interfere with the test’s functionality.
  • The auto-save should run every time you select, input, or change a response to a question.  If you run into a problem with the auto-save script, manually save all answers If you’re working on essay questions, save manually every 10-15 minutes. 
  • There is a 20-minute limit for fully idle assessment sessions (not clicking or typing anything), so do not sit in an open exam without any activity.  If you are reviewing your responses without making changes, click a Save button at least every 10-15 minutes to avoid a session time out.  

After Submitting a Test Attempt

  • Check to ensure that your submission was successful.  If the assessment is still available to students, you can click on the test name to see an attempt status message.  Alternatively, open the My Grades tool to check for a score (if the test can be graded by the system) or a Needs Grading icon.  If you see an In Progress status icon or an Error icon, and you believed you had finished the assessment, something went wrong with the attempt and you will need to contact your instructor or teaching assistant to discuss the issue. 
    • NOTE: If you do have a failed attempt and/or become locked out of an assessment, you must contact your instructor to request another attempt or to have the failed attempt cleared.  The IT Service Desk staff are not able to reset assessment attempts.