Best Practices for Test Options in Blackboard

In order to ensure students do not encounter any problems taking tests in Blackboard, we recommend several settings on the Test Options page. The Test Options page is accessed by locating the link to the test in your course, choosing the arrow after the course name, and selecting Edit Test Options. See information on:

Make the Test Available

If you set a day and time for the test to become available, you must choose Yes for the Make the Link Available option. This does not turn to Yes automatically when it is time for the test to become available to students, and therefore students would not be able to access to test.

Force Completion and Timer

The Force Completion setting generally should not be turned on*. Force Completion allows for a one-time only entry into an exam. While this sounds useful, if a student accidentally closes their browser window or loses their connection to the internet/wifi, the student will not be able to reenter the exam. The instructor would need to intervene and reset the test (losing all student answers to that point).

*Note: To ensure test integrity during proctored exams, the Force Completion option may be helpful to ensure only the student in the room is taking the test.

It is recommended to set the Set Timer option without using Force Completion for Blackboard exams. With this set-up, if the exam connection is broken, the student will be able to re-enter and continue taking the exam (all work will be saved). The timer will continue to countdown the time from the initial exam entry time.

Presentation Mode

When designing Blackboard tests, we recommend you set the Test Presentation Mode option to "One at a Time." If the option is set to "All at Once" and a student is logged out of their Blackboard session (for example during an extended wifi outage), they may continue to answer questions but their responses would not be recorded. "One at a Time" prevents this because when the student goes to the next question (on another page), they would receive an error message, and the student could log back into Blackboard and continue to test. This is especially important during longer tests (more than one hour).

Advice for Longer Tests

Please keep in mind that for security reasons there is a 3 hour session time out in place. If you will be creating exams that are longer than one hour, we recommend you set the Test Presentation Mode option to "One at a Time" which will help ensure students are not logged out before they complete the exam. This also prevents students with internet connection problems from realizing there is a problem before they submit their test. Another option for longer exams and quizzes would be to divide them into multiple tests.

If a student loses access to a test mid-attempt

Always ask your students to document test problems with a screenshot or cell phone photo and report the problem to you immediately.

1. If the test was not timed and Force Completion was not selected, the student may still have access to their test attempt - they should try to access the test again. If the test availability time has ended, the instructor may need to change the Availability time of the test.

2. For timed tests with auto-submit selected, or any test with Force Completion selected, there is no way to re-open the test attempt to allow a student to complete the test.

You can clear the student’s attempt and let them retake the test; however, you would lose the record of what the student was able to complete and this may give the student an unfair advantage.


OptionsIn the Grade Center, look at the student’s test attempt. At the top of the page where you see the student’s attempt is a “Test Information” link which shows you how long he was in the test (see attached screenshot). Then, if you click the Access Log button you will see how long the student was in each question and approximately where they stopped.

Then, you can give this student a second attempt at the test and tell them to only answer the questions they didn’t answer the first time. You could also limit the time to a shorter window than the original test.

optionsTo do this:
-Find the test in the course and go to the Test Options page (see attached). About halfway down look for the "Test Availability Exceptions" area.
-Click the “Add User or Group” button
-Select the student(s) and Submit.
-Allow the student another attempt, check the box for Timer, and enter the amount of time. If needed, change the Availability of when the link to the test is available for this one student.

Once the student completes this attempt, you would look at both attempts and manually enter the score the student should receive for the test.

Need Assistance?

Concerned about an upcoming high-stakes online assessment? Send us a myMason/Blackboard Help Request and we would be happy to look over your settings and answer any questions.