IT Help Desk
Welch Hall B 370
Blackboard - For Students
Welcome! This is a guide to help you prepare for taking a test in Blackboard with least amount of errors possible. Click each of the test topics below to view the helpful tips.
Preparing for the Test
Make sure your browser is up to date – The Internet browsers supported by Blackboard are Mozilla Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer. The Mozilla Firefox browser has provided the most stable and stress-free Blackboard experience since the upgrade to Blackboard 9. You can download the most recent versions of browsers here.
Make sure your computer is up-to-date – When you login to your online course, click on "System Check" tab at the top and make sure you computer is up to date. Mac users, run Software Update. PC users, be sure you are getting automatic updates. It’s a good idea to make sure your antivirus software is up to date as well, since spyware might interfere with your taking the test.
Make sure you have a reliable and fast Internet connection – If you lose your Internet connection you’ll be booted out of the test. If you’re on campus, your best bet is a wired network connection, since WiFi can be unstable. Consider using a lab or library computer to take your test.
Minimize interruptions – Turn off any browser pop-up blockers, instant messaging, social networking sites (Facebook), email notification or other programs that may distract you from the test or interfere with it. To turn off the pop-up blocker on a PC:
- Internet Explorer: Click Tools | Internet Options | Privacy
- Firefox: Click Tools | Options | Web Features | uncheck Block Popup Windows
- Safari: Click File | click Block Pop-Up Windows (to remove the checkmark)
To turn off the pop-up blocker on a MAC:
- Firefox: Click Firefox | Preferences | Content | uncheck Block Popup Windows
- Safari: Click Safari | click Block Pop-Up Windows (to remove the checkmark)
Plan your time– Give yourself time to take the test, accounting for any technical problems that may occur. Once you enter a test, do not leave the test or do anything else until you’re finished. Commit your full attention to the test and don’t try to multitask.
Starting the Test
Start the test—The test will be located in a Content Area of your Blackboard course and will have an icon similar to the example at the right. When you single-click the name, you’ll be prompted to Begin the test.
Once you do so, your attempt will be noted by the Attempt in Progress icon .
Read the instructions carefully – Since online tests may have a variety of features, it's important to read the instructions to determine how your instructor has structured the test. Some features your instructor may use include:
- Force Completion: If Force Completion is set, you must complete the test before exiting. If you leave the test without completing it, you will not be able to come back and finish it. If Force Completion is disabled, you can use the Save button inside the test to save your answers, exit from the test, then reenter the test and continue from where you left off. Please note that if the timer is set, the timer will continue once you’ve launched the test, so be aware of the time allowed.
- Multiple Attempts: You may be allowed to take the test more than once, usually so that you can meet a minimum score. The instructor might have Blackboard set to count the lowest, highest, or last score, or may simply average all attempts. Sometimes an instructor may use this setting so that if you are accidentally bumped from the quiz, you can get back into it without instructor intervention. Be careful not to go back into the test unless you truly want to start over and take it again because each attempt is recorded.
- Timed Test: The instructor may set a time limit. The elapsed time appears above the questions in the browser window, and you will receive a 1-minute warning when time is up in the form of a pop-up window. If you exceed the time limit your test will be accepted, but marked as late and not automatically graded until the instructor accepts it per his/her late submission policy. This is typically stated in the syllabus.
- Password Protected: Your instructor may safeguard the test with a password.
- All at Once / One at a Time: All of the questions may appear on one Web page; each question has a Save Answer button so you can save as you go. Doing so should help protect you in case of technical difficulties. Alternatively, questions appear one by one as you click a forward arrow. Clicking the arrow automatically saves each question as you go.
- Backtracking Prohibited: Some tests prevent you from going back to any of the questions once you’ve answered (or skipped) them. This feature is becoming more and more popular. Wait for questions to load – After you first click to begin a test where all questions appear on one page, let all the questions load. Do not start using the Save button until a minute or two has passed, so that Bb has time to let all the questions flow in from the server.
Taking the Test
Avoid multitasking – Don’t try to do several things in different browser windows while you’re taking a quiz. You might accidentally close the window that contains the test, and if you try to interact with your Blackboard course in a different window of the same browser while the test is in progress you will have problems. Also, turn off Facebook, instant messenger and other distractions before you start the test.
Click, don’t double-click – Click only once on each of the links throughout a test including the link to take the test, the Begin button, navigation buttons inside the exam, the Save button, the Save and Submit button at the end of the test, and the OK button to see your results. Double-clicking may be the single most common error made by students when taking a Blackboard quiz.
Save frequently – You can save an individual question or (if the test is presented all at once) all of your answers. Saving is not the same as submitting the test, but it does mean that if your session is interrupted you may be able to resume where you left off. This, of course, is only a possibility if Force Completion is not enabled.
Avoid the Back button and delete key – Don’t use the browser’s Back and Forward buttons. Use the small arrows (single click) to move between questions in a test that displays the questions One-at-a-Time. Don’t click the main Blackboard menu or the breadcrumb trail while you’re in the test. It is best to avoid the browser’s Refresh command. Also do not resize your browser window.
Stay active in the test window – The assessment feature in Blackboard is set to time-out after periods of inactivity. You must do more than just type or click answers to keep the test active. Save the assessment or individual questions periodically to reset the activity clock.
Keep your computer on and awake – If you have a laptop and close it, or even if you just take a break while taking the test, the laptop may go to sleep and lose its network connection. In some cases the result will be that when you open it you won’t be able to continue the test.
If you get disconnected, immediately resume – If you’re booted out of the test or get disconnected, you’ll likely have to log back into Blackboard. Immediately return to your course site and click the link to resume the test, without exiting your Browser. Depending upon how your Instructor set-up the test, you may not be able to resume your test. In those cases, you must contact the instructor. Your instrutor can only reset your test.
Don’t turn off the visual editor – If a question requires an essay answer, you’ll have a “visual editor” available that allows you to format your answer. Don’t turn the editor on or off during the test; use it in the current state.
Don’t copy and paste from Word – Even if a question expects an essay answer, don’t write it in Word and copy/paste. Doing so is very likely to also copy bogus HTML code that will break your browser. Thus, compose your response in Notepad or Wordpad and copy/paste your answer into the Blackboard exam text box. Save a copy of your Notepad/Wordpad responses in case a submission error occurs.
Use simple file names – If a test includes a file response question, the name of the file on your hard disk MUST NOT contain special characters. Use only letters, numbers, “-” (dash), and “_” (underscore), and be sure the file has an appropriate extension (doc, txt, rtf, etc.).
Submitting the test
Click the Save and Submit button – You will not get credit for your answers until you have clicked Submit at the end of the test. You should see a confirmation and/or feedback for the test.
Don’t ignore warning messages – you may receive a warning message that some questions are incomplete, even if you’ve answered all the questions. If you get that message:
- Click CANCEL to make the warning box go away
- Review your test and make sure all questions were completed (if your test prohibits backtracking, you will receive the warning of a missing answer on each page)
- Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click Save
- When you are sure you are done, click Save and Submit
Confirming Test Submission
You can access your submission confirmation by going to My Grades. Look in the Grade column to see either a score or a special symbol indicating its status. A green exclamation means that the test was submitted successfully, but that the instructor needs to grade it (i.e. - because there was an essay question). An icon resembling a page with a pencil means that you are still taking the exam. If so, try going back to the test and continuing where you left off. If you cannot gain access again, email the instructor that you are locked out of your test.
A Few More Helpful Hints…
Blackboard uses Java for almost everything so verify your Java is current at: http://www.java.com/en/download/installed.jsp.