Giving guidance about Online (MCQ-Type) Tests to your students

This article outlines how your students should prepare for your Blackboard test as an online exam, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Watch a video

This video provides an overview to students of tests in Blackboard Learn.

NUI Galway guidelines for remote and alternative assessments
  • It is your responsibility to ensure that you have access to the necessary technology to complete your assessment. In most cases this includes access to a PC or laptop, and broadband connectivity; in some cases specific software will be required – your Module Leader will advise you of this. If you have difficulty accessing the required technology you should notify your Module Leader as soon as possible next week.
  • You are strongly advised to test your access to Blackboard and any relevant software on your home computer/laptop prior to the scheduled examination slot.
  • If your modules are being assessed via an online scheduled assessment, your Module Leader will contact your class to organise a test run prior to the actual assessment date. You are strongly advised to participate in this test run in order to satisfy yourself that you can connect to Blackboard and carry out all tasks required on your PC/Laptop.
  • For timed online assessments, you are required to log in to Blackboard at least 15 minutes before the commencement of each assessment.
  • Each timed assessment will be no more than two hours long and where you are required to write an essay and subsequently upload it to Blackboard, an additional 15 minutes will be added to the time allotted for the examination for the purpose of uploading your assignment. Where you are required to scan (using mobile phone or hand scanner) drawings/diagrams completed during the examination, and upload to Blackboard, an additional 30 minutes will be added to the time allotted for the purpose of uploading your assignment.
  • A contact email and phone number will be provided to you should you encounter any difficulties when uploading your assessment material.
  • You are expected to adhere to the highest standards of integrity and honesty when completing assessments at NUI Galway. Module Leaders reserve the right to follow up with a student by interview if there is any concern in relation to the integrity of the assessment. Any irregularities of conduct may be reported to the Exam Security Group as provided for in ‘Procedures for dealing with Breaches of Examination Regulations’.

These are unprecedented times and we recognise that being physically isolated from campus adds to the normal pressure you may be feeling at exam time. All of your Lecturers and the Support Service teams are continuing to work to support you through this examination session.

For specific queries on individual assessments, please contact your Module Leader in the first instance.

All NUI Galway support and guidance on online assessments, on technology-related queries and on general student supports will be available at one central online hub:

Preparing to Take Tests in Blackboard

One of the most important—and most neglected—steps in the exam preparation process is making sure your computer is ready for an online exam. This means having a reliable, Internet connection; an Internet browser that is compatible with the type of exam you are taking; and all necessary software downloaded and tested to make certain it works on your system.

Below are the major things you need to check for before beginning any exam in Blackboard.

Preparing for Exams in Blackboard
Reliable, Wired Internet Connection Make sure you are using as reliable an internet connection as possible and are NOT accessing the exam on a mobile phone. Is your device fully charged? Ask your household to avoid unnecessary use of home internet during the exam, and try to find a quite place to work.
Updated and Compatible Internet Browser Make sure your browser is up-to-date. We recommend that students use a recommended browser for their Blackboard exams (unless otherwise specified by the instructor), and use Chrome or Firefox as both tend to be the most compatible with Blackboard. Do you have multiple pends and paper if you need to write or work out any solutions. 
Up-to-Date System Software Make sure your computer is up-to-date as possible. This means making sure you are regularly running your software updates.
 Review Tests Dates Review test dates and times. If you are unsure when a test is scheduled and it is not listed in your course materials, contact the instructor for verification. Also check you have the correct time on your devices. 
 Start Early You should never wait until the last possible moment to start an exam. If your instructor schedules a time for your exam, be sure to access it on time. If something goes wrong, you have time to contact the relevant instructor/contact person for your exam (and be sure to know their contact information). 

Remember, when you start early you have time to recover from most minor setbacks or make arrangements with your instructor for circumstances outside of your control.

Important Note: If you use an unreliable internet connection you are more likely to run into problems due to dropped/interrupted connections to the Blackboard server. You will also need a computer or laptop device (and not your mobile phone).

Accessing Tests

You can only access a test when it has been deployed by your instructor in a Content Area of the course. Your instructor may have an entire area in your course dedicated to just tests or the tests may be placed along with related lesson material. When the instructor informs you that the test is available, and where to find it, enter that area of the course and click on the test link to launch it.

This will take you to the entry page of the exam where you can view the instructions for the exam, how much time you have to take the exam, and any additional settings the instructor may have set. This will be your last chance to navigate away from the exam without penalty. Once you click the Begin button, the attempted will be logged and your exam timer will start counting down.


Important Note: You can identify Tests by the icon located to the left of their titles in the content area of the course.  

Types of Test Settings

Instructors will vary the types of questions included in tests as well as the way the questions are displayed. Also, there are a number of settings the instructor can enable on exams. These will be explained in the instructions before you begin the exam. Review the test instructions carefully for each test before starting.


Below is are some of the types of test settings your instructors might implement on their exams.

 Types of Exam Settings
Multiple Attempts Some instructors allow you to take an exam more than once. The exam may be set to record your highest score or only the last exam attempt. Sometimes an instructor may allow multiple attempts to account for technical issues. Be careful not to go back into the test unless you truly want to start over and take it again.
Forced Completion If Force Completion is not enabled, you can exit the exam and return to complete it. However, the exam timer will continue counting down regardless if you are in the exam or not. This feature is used to help you if you experience an error because if you are forced to restart your computer, you still have an opportunity to go back in and complete your exam.

Timed Test Most instructors set time limits on exams. The elapsed time appears above the questions in the browser window, and you are notified when time expires. The remaining time appears on the assessment page. Click the chevron next to the timer to collapse or expand it.

Timer warnings will appear when half the time, five minutes, one minute, and thirty seconds remain. When the remaining time reads 1 minute, 30 seconds, the status bar will turn yellow. At 1 minute, the warning will be red, and at 30 seconds, both the status bar and the warning will be red. If the timer is collapsed, the color changes will not be visible.

Password Protected Your instructor may safeguard the test with a password, which they will provide to you before test time.
Questions All at Once The entire exam will appear on a single page and each question will have a Save Answer button so you can save as you go. There will also be a Save All button toward the top of the exam to save all questions at once. And, the Blackboard system is set to saved answered questions automatically after a few seconds.
Questions One at a Time Questions appear one by one as you click a forward arrow. Clicking the arrow automatically saves each question as you go. If settings permit, you can use the question navigation at the top of the screen to revisit unanswered questions.
Backtracking Prohibited On exams with questions delivered one at a time, you may be prevented from going back to any of the questions once you’ve answered (or skipped) them.

Important Note: When taking an exam in Blackboard, never use your browser’s Back button to navigate between questions in the exam. This will cause issues within the exam, including loss of your exam attempt.  

Save and Submit

When you're finished, select Save and Submit. You will be asked to confirm this, in a pop up window.

Important Note: You must click Save and Submit for your test to be completed.

Test Receipt Page

At the conclusion of the test, you will receive a receipt page. You can print it using your browser’s print command and save a copy of the page (electronically or printed).


Important Note: If the exam is using Multiple attempts, be careful not to go back into the test unless you truly want to start over and take it again.

Viewing Test Results

You will be unable to see your test results after the exam. Only after the exam score is released, you will be presented with your results based on the options selected by your instructor.

Should the score be released to students, you can review your test results using My Grades or from the test itself if it is still available.

To review test results through the My Grades Area:

  1. Look for the Test for which you want to review the results. Click on the title of the test to access the View Attempt Page
  2. Click the grade in the Calculated Grade column to view your exam attempt
  3. The exam and its results should display, after the grade release date.

If your Blackboard question isn't answered above, Blackboard help has more information for students on taking tests.