Online Testing for Students (Best Practices)

What is online testing?

Instructors use tests to assess your mastery over course content and objectives. With online testing, 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 and should direct any grading questions to your instructor.

How do I access online tests?

Drake University uses Blackboard Learn as the learning management system. 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 testing. More information can be found at Respondus LockDown Browser for Students.

How should I prepare for online testing?

To eliminate additional issues, we suggest you make sure of the following:

  • Ensure that the device you are using to take your online exam meets the technical requirements as listed at
  • Fully charge your device and plug it in before starting the test.
  • Make sure your network is fully functional. 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 end your test session.
  • Request an online practice test before you take an online course exam if your instructor does not offer one. This will allow you to make sure your technology is working.
  • Keep your browser up to date. Check the technological requirements needed for Blackboard. Some features of Blackboard are not fully functional on all browsers. If you get an error, report it to your instructor, find an alternate route for the time being, and try another browser for future exams.
  • Clear the cache on your computer. See instructions showing how to clear your cache in the most common browsers:
  • Shut down distracting activities like social media or email.
  • Click “Begin” only when you are absolutely ready to complete the test. Some tests don't allow you to click away from the test once you have begun.
  • Start early enough during the test window so that you can complete the test before the availability expires. Some instructors set limits to when an online test is available, often referred to as the “test availability”.

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

How do I take 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. Expand  “Test Information” to display instructions for the test; and “Question Completion Status” to check that answers are saved in the system.
  4. Use ONLY the buttons provided in the online testing environment. NOTE: Using the Back, Forward, or Refresh buttons on the browser, or shortcut keys for these same functions on the keyboard while taking the test can cause unexpected issues. 
  5. 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. Only instructors can extend test availability.
  7. Don't open a new browser window or navigate to any course links not directly found in the test.
  8. If needed, use Notepad, Wordpad, or Textpad to draft lengthy short answer or essay questions. 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.
What should I do after I finish my online 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 don't receive confirmation, return to where the test was posted, and click the test link. Blackboard will display a status message.
  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 indicates an attempt in progress and your  submission is not 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
Thu 7/29/21 12:34 PM