Tips, instructions and settings for tests

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  • Compile a database (pool) of questions on Blackboard. Questions can be re-used for multiple tests.
  • Sets of randomised questions can be used with Multiple Attempts – students will thus not necessarily get the same questions for the second or third attempt, or questions will not be in the same order.
  • Questions should be scaled; varying from recall of information and ‘figuring out’ of answers with little or no guessing (approximately 35%), to more advanced, insight-requiring questions (50%), to higher order questions that require application and interpretation of content (15%).
  • Build feedback into questions (if required) – do not supply the answers but refer students to a source where the correct answer can be found.
  • Vary the types of questions used.
  • Do the test and compare to the memo to ensure all questions and answers correlate.
  • Ensure that instructions are included and clearly spelt out.
  • Send an announcement to students to remind them of the test.
  • If a student has left the test before the time has expired, the test shows as In Progress in the Grade Centre. Go into the attempt and Save and Exit to save on behalf of the student. The marks will reflect immediately.
  • Do not Hide tests but rather add date settings Display After and Display Until – else one may forget to Unhide the test.
  • Hide the Grade Centre column of an assessment until all assessments have been graded and marks have been entered. Only then release all marks to students at the same time by Unhiding the column.
  • If a student requests another attempt (for whatever reason) whilst the test is in progress, delete the existing attempt in the Full Grade Centre (keep a record of the mark obtained), and inform the student that another attempt can be taken – extend the time period (not test duration) if required.
  • For a re-test, see instructions under re-tests.
  • Log into the module whilst your students are doing the test to monitor for any problems.

Test instructions should generally include the following (should be given in advance and be visible on Blackboard):

  • Scope of what the test covers and what type of questions to expect.
  • Date and duration (time allowed) for the test.
  • If Auto-Submit is used, explain that a ‘warning’ will indicate when the time is nearly up (see notes below).
  • Availability of test – indicate the period of time when the test is available.
  • Number of attempts allowed – indicate if more than 1 attempt is allowed.
  • Marks allocated for test.
  • Indicate whether questions will be randomised, if they will be able to go back to a question and whether all questions will appear at the same time.
  • General instructions that are specific to the test for example; do not use bullet points to answer questions, include a heading for paragraph questions, etc.
  • Inform the students that their marks will be available immediately if no questions require marking.
  • Remind students to Save and Submit when they have completed the test.


Set general settings such a Name of test, Make Available and Add Announcement etc. Settings with variations will be discussed below (as in sequence on Blackboard).

  • Multiple attempts – This allows students to take the same test more than once – with the same or different questions. For marking purposes, select one of the following options; Last Marked Attempt, Highest Mark, Lowest Mark, First Marked Attempt or Average of Marked Attempts.
  • Set timer: Add the duration (minutes allocated) for the test – allow/add additional time as students may have connectivity problems which would slow them down.
  • Allow for a longer availability/window period of time in which to take the test for example from 09h00 – 14h00 for a 45-minute test. Students may them log on at different times – not all at the same time.
  • If Auto-Submit is used: the system will save all answers and close after the time allocated has expired. Indicate that they will receive ‘warnings’ that the time is nearly up. Blackboard gives 4 (four) ‘warnings’ that time is running out (½ time, 5 minutes, 1 minute and 30 seconds).
  • If Auto-Submit is set to Off, the student can continue until the test has been completed. There is limited control over time spent on the test with this option.
  • Add a date and time for the test (Display After and Display Until).
  • Selecting Due Date allows for late submissions. Not required to use if Display After and Display Until dates were added. If selected, also indicate if the test can be started if the test has passed but this is not advised. * Due Date is mostly used for Open Book type tests or projects that extend over a longer period of time.
  • Force Completion – only allows for a one-time entry into the test. If the student accidentally closes the browser, or loses the connection to the test, the student cannot continue with the exam unless the instructor resets the exam – this setting is not recommended.
  • All at Once – all questions are presented at the same time.
  • One at a Time – questions are presented one at a time and students have to complete a question before moving to the next question.
  • Prohibit backtracking – students are not allowed to return to a question to change the given answer.
  • Randomise – the questions are presented in a random manner for each student. This setting is suggested for multiple attempts.

Re-tests: If a re-test is required;

  • Edit the Test Options: remove the date settings first, add another attempt and select which mark must be recorded in the Grade Centre (highest, last, etc.).
  • In Adaptive Release, enter the new date and time and select the student/s that need to redo the test from the Grade Centre (class list provided).

Please do consult with your faculty Instructional Designer for assistance pertaining to a test.