Online Testing for Students (Best Practices)

What is Online Testing?

Instructors use tests to assess your mastery over course content and objectives. In this case, your test will be provided to you via the Internet.  As a part of your test, your instructor assigns point values to questions in a test. You submit your test via the Internet for grading and the results are recorded. You can view your grades when your instructor makes them available to you. Please direct any grading questions to your instructor.

How do I Access Online Tests?

Drake University uses Blackboard Learn as the learning management system.  Most instructors conduct their online testing via Blackboard.  Instructors will need to inform you where the test is located within the Blackboard course navigation. In addition, some online tests may require the use of Respondus LockDown Browser. Your instructor will give you further information about using LockDown Browser if you are required to use it for completing tests.  More information about Respondus LockDown Browser for Students.

Basic Preparation for Online Testing

To eliminate additional issues, it is suggested that students should make sure of the following:

  • Make sure that the device you are using to take your online exam abides by the college and/or school technical requirements as listed at:
  • The device used for online testing is fully charged or plugged in before the test begins.
  • The network connection is fully functioning.  Network connections are most likely to cause issues during online testing. Questions may be slow to display and your connection may be lost briefly, which will cut off your test session. If you are having unstable network connections, you should try to find a network for your on-line tests that is on a more stable connection.
  • Request an online practice test before you take an online course exam if your instructor does not offer one.  This process allows students to make sure their technology is working appropriately without affecting grades.
  • The browser of your choice is updated to a recent release that fits the technological requirements needed for Blackboard.  Some features of Blackboard are not fully functional on all browsers.  These functionalities depend on the requirements set forth by your instructor.  If you find an error in display, report the issue to your instructor, find an alternate route for the time being, and try another browser for future exams.
  • It is recommended that you clear the cache on your computer before starting a test to mitigate potential problems. The instructions found on this website will show you how to clear your cache in the most common internet browsers:
  • Shut down distracting activities such as social media or email.
  • Click “Begin” only when you are absolutely ready to complete the test.
  • Instructors may set a limit as to when an online test is available, often referred to as the “test availability”. The link to open or re-open your test is only visible during this window. Start early enough during the test window so that you can complete the test before the availability expires.

NOTE: Copying or reproducing any exam questions in full or part is considered a violation of academic integrity and could have repercussions.

Taking an Online Test

  1. Make sure you have enough time to complete the test once you start.
  2. Click only once on the link for the exam, and click “Begin” one time only. 

NOTE: Double-clicking on any exam links can actually launch two separate instances of the exam, which can confuse the server and lead to possible data corruption.

  1. Read all instructions carefully and be aware of test settings including:
    1. Force completion: once you begin the test you will be required to complete it in 1 session. If you leave the test session, it will automatically submit on your behalf.
    2. Timed assessment: length of time allowed to take the test. 
    3. Allow multiple attempts: You may complete the test more than once during the times and dates available.
  2. Allow the page to load completely before answering questions.
  3. You are welcome to expand the areas called “Test Information” to display instructions for the test; and “Question Completion Status” to observe when question answers are saved in the system.
  4. Use ONLY the buttons provided in the online testing environment. DO NOT use the Back, Forward, or Refresh buttons on the browser, or shortcut keys for these same functions on the keyboard while taking the test. 
  5. It is best practice to save each answer as you progress. You are also welcome to “Save All Answers” every 10-15 minutes while working on the test.
  6. Pace yourself and keep track of time. Blackboard times out after 3 hours of inactivity and could lock you out of your current exam attempt; however, your browser settings may vary. Saving your answers frequently resets the inactivity clock. The test availability may have date limits set by the instructor. After the test availability expires, you will not be able to access the test. Only instructors can extend the test availability.
  7. DO NOT attempt the following while the test is in progress:
    1. Open a new browser window with the learning management system (Blackboard) open.
    2. Navigate to any course menu links (i.e. announcements, learning modules)
  8. For lengthy short answer or essay questions, you may be able to type answers in Notepad, Wordpad, or Textpad (this option will not be available if Respondus LockDown Browser is used). Avoid using Microsoft Word if possible as this program contains hidden formatting that may interfere with the way your document is displayed in Blackboard. Always save your response as a backup copy. Copy and paste the text into Blackboard.

After Completing the Test

  1. Submit the test by clicking the Save and Submit button ONCE when the test is completed. Do not press “Enter” on the keyboard instead of clicking submit. If the submission was successful, the system will display a confirmation.
    1. The system will not record any score if the test is not submitted.
    2. Clicking “Save and Continue” does not submit the test.
    3. While the submission is in progress, do not hit the Submit button again or the Return/Enter key.
  2. If you do not receive confirmation, go back to the areas where the test was posted, locate the test link and click it. Blackboard will display a message about the status of your submission.
  3. Check your grade, if a score is posted in “My Grades” or an exclamation point icon is in the grade box the submission was successful. The exclamation point means that the instructor needs to grade some items, or you exceeded the time allotted. Your score will be manually entered by the instructor.
    1. If you see an Attempt in Progress icon (a pie chart or timer icon) after submitting a test, contact the instructor as this symbolizes an attempt in progress and something additional needs to take place before the submission is complete.
    2. Make note or a screenshot of any error messages, time, and activity that might have prevented a successful submission and contact the instructor.

If you run into errors while taking an online exam, please reach out to your instructor first.  If your instructor is not able to fix the issue in Blackboard, either the instructor will reach out for further assistance or they may ask that you reach out for Blackboard assistance.  


Article ID: 70029
Fri 1/11/19 10:34 AM
Tue 7/27/21 6:01 PM