Tips for Successful Assessments: Students
Sometimes assessment sessions in Blackboard are interrupted, leaving students with unfinished, 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 retake the exam from the beginning. Which of these solutions is implemented is left to the instructor's discretion, but usually depends on the student's progress before the attempt was terminated. While a certain number of these dropped sessions is unavoidable and to be expected, here are some recommendations and tips for students that will minimize the instances of this issue.
Preparing for an Assessment:
- Do not take the exams on mobile devices unless they are expressly labeled as Mobile Compatible. The display is tiny, making it difficult to read and to accurately select the intended response and/or buttons (Save, Submit, Progress to Next Question). Also, the browsers are not always compatible with Blackboard, leading to various other technical difficulties. If you must take a mobile-compatible exam on a mobile device, use the Blackboard mobile app.
- Use a high-speed, wired Internet connection. Wireless connections, even when on campus, are much more likely to have disruptions, causing the assessment session to be lost. Please note that the length of the 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. Run the Browser Checker before beginning an exam, even when using Firefox or Chrome. The Browser Checker is linked from the Bb Support website and from the My Support tab within Blackboard. It will run automatically, then make recommendations for browser settings and required plug-ins--follow these recommendations for a better Bb experience.
NOTE: The Browser Checker is not infallible. Though it may decrease the probability of many problems, it is not guaranteed to prevent all possible issues with the application.
- Check for operating system and browser updates well before you intend to begin a test and allow any updates to run before restarting your computer.
- Terminate any existing Blackboard sessions (logout), clear your 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.
- Avoid having multiple open browser windows/tabs altogether, but especially those containing any sessions of Blackboard (e.g. to look up information on or download a file from a content page). Simultaneous sessions can create a conflict with the Bb database and can cause one or all of your exam sessions to crash, freeze, or submit early. If this occurs, you will most likely lose your progress on your exam and will not be able to enter it again without your instructor clearing your attempt.
- 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.
- 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 your progress or not. You will end up with a partial submission at best and will not be able to re-enter the exam 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.
- 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 back/forward arrows in 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.
- You can type your responses in a simple, 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 processor. Your text will bring formatting code along with it and the code interferes with the way Blackboard functions.
- The auto-save should run every time you answer a question 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 the Save button every 10-15 minutes to avoid a session time out.
After an Assessment:
- Check to ensure that your submission was successful. If the assessment is still available to students, you can click on the assessment name to see an assessment status message. Alternatively, open the "My Grades" tool to check for a score (if it can be graded by the system) or a Needs Grading icon. If you see an In Progress status message/icon or an Error icon, and you believed that 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 get locked out of your assessment, you must contact you instructor to get the assessment reset. The OIT Service Desk and Blackboard Support techs are NOT able to reset assessment attempts.