Testing Tips

Taking online tests...

Examinations are a fact of life in college. But the only time an exam should be a trial is when you aren't prepared for it, and the best sign that you aren't prepared is when you have to stay up all night to "cram." Cramming won't do very much for you (except make you so tired that when you take the exam you won't be able to think clearly enough to answer the questions you DO know).

An online exam has several variations, but all involve technology! These are a few variations:

  1. In a classroom, computer resource center or at home
  2. Open or closed book
  3. Timed or not timed
  4. Scheduled or not scheduled
  5. Continuous or saved and returned for completion
  6. Part of an online course, traditional classroom, or blended option
  7. Graded or not graded
  8. Scores immediately returned for feedback, or posted later

Successful Online Testing...

1. Make sure your browser is compatible with Brightspace. The following browsers are compatible with Brightspace and we strongly recommend that your use one of these:

Internet Explorer 9 or 10
Google Chrome (Stable Channel Release)
Firefox (Extended Support Release)
Safari 6 (MAC Only)

Internet Explorer 11 does not work well with Brightspace. Do not use Internet Explorer 11 with Brightspace.

2. Consider cleaning up your browser before you begin.

  • Turn off toolbars such as Google, Delicious, and "Yahoo!"
  • Make Brightspace a trusted site in your Internet Browser.
  • Turn off popup blockers, or allow popups from bboard2010.nwosu.edu.
  • Clear your browser's cache and delete temporary internet files.

3. Use a hard-wired internet connection if at all possible. Remember that online testing is completely different from regular web browsing. Your computer must remain connected to our server for the entire duration of your exam, and even the smallest disconnect (that you may never even notice otherwise) will cause your exam to terminate. Wireless connections can drop offline. Satellite internet will almost certainly drop your connection, even if the wind is not blowing. Any device that creates internet from a cell phone signal will almost certainly result in a lost connection. Find a computer with a reliable internet connection to take your exams.

4. Save as you go. This will help to keep your connection from timing out. If your exam presents the questions one at a time, your questions will automatically be saved as you advance to the next question.

5. NEVER DOUBLE CLICK. Double-clicking either Save Answer, Next Question, or Submit buttons may cause an error.

6. NEVER USE THE BACKSPACE BUTTON. If your cursor is outside of a text box area, the back button will cause an exam to terminate. It is advisable to use the delete key if you need to delete text while taking an exam.

7. If you have technical difficulty, contact your instructor and the Helpdesk immediately.

Mastering or navigating technology should be a concern...

  • Make sure your computer, especially at home,
    • is technically capable and has the appropriate connection speed.
      (One advantage of taking the test at your school's computer resource center is that a computer consultant may assist you)
      Computer issues: cache, security settings, monitor/screen display, Internet connection, browser Internet options, etc.
    • Master the login process to access the test
      Taking the test is not the time to experiment with passwords and/or navigating a course website to find the test!
      Can you review the test instructions in class before taking the test?
      Do you need to create a login for the test, or use your student account?
      What is the test website address (URL),
      your student identification login, your test login?
      If you take the test in a controlled environment,
      what identification do you need?
      If you need assistance taking the test, alert the teacher beforehand!
  • Once at the test index page, carefully read the instructions
    for answering questions:
    Is the time you take to complete the test tracked?
    If so, is there a clock you can access for your time?
    Can you save and return if interrupted?
    Must you answer the questions in sequence?
    Can you change answers?
    Is there a review feature that lets you check your work, or check for unanswered questions?
  • After you have finished answering the questions:
    How do you save and exit so your work is not lost?
    Is there a separate sequence from saving to turn in the test?
    Will you get an alert about unanswered questions?
    How do you access your score, or is your score immediately returned?
  • Can you make a paper-backup of your responses?
  • For short answer and essay questions,
    can you create and format your answer in word processing, then copy and paste into the test question?

Before The Test...

  1. Start preparing for your exams the first day of class. You can do this by reading your syllabus carefully to find out when your exams will be, how many there will be, and how much they are weighed into your grade.
  2. Plan reviews as part of your regularly weekly study schedule; consequently, you review over the whole quarter rather than just at exam time.
  3. Reviews are much more than reading and rereading all assignments. You need to read over your lecture notes and ask yourself questions on the material you don't know well. (If your notes are relatively complete and well organized, you may find that very little rereading of the textbook for detail is needed.) You may want to create astudy group for these reviews to reinforce your learning.
  4. Review for several short periods rather than one long period. You will find that you retain information better and get less fatigued.
  5. Turn the main points of each topic or heading into questions and check to see if the answers come to you quickly and correctly. Try to predict examination questions; then outline your answers.
  6. It may seem "old-fashioned", but flashcards may be a helpful way to review in courses that have many unfamiliar terms. Review the card in random order using only those terms that you have difficulty remembering.

During The Test...

There are also some things to keep in mind when you are TAKING the test.

  1. Get to the test site early so you can select a seat, organize your materials, and get relaxed. Be prepared with pencils, paper, calculator, books (if appropriate), etc.
  2. Survey the entire test before you answer any questions. This will help you to get an overview of what's expected and to strategize how you will take the test.
  3. Take a few deep breaths and to relax tense muscles. Repeat throughout the test. This process will help you to stay relaxed and to make more energy available for remembering, thinking, and writing.
  4. Read directions carefully. Ask questions if you don't understand or need clarification.
  5. Do a quick "mind dump" of information you don't want to forget. Write it down on scrap paper or in the margin.
  6. Answer the easiest questions first, to help yourself calm down. Matching questions are often good to start with because they provide a reminder of important terms and definitions.
  7. Use good strategies for answering multiple choice and other objective questions.
    • Look for the central idea of each question. What is the main point?
    • Statements that begin with always, never, none, except, most, or least-are probably NOT the answer . Underline these or other key words if you are allowed to write on the test paper.
    • Try to supply your own answer before choosing an alternative listed on the test.
    • Mark an answer for every question.
    • If you have to guess:
      • The length of choices can be a clue. Choose the longest.
      • If two choices are similar, choose neither.
      • If two choices are opposites, choose one of them.
      • The most general alternative is usually the right answer.
  8. When answering essay questions, remember that the objective is to demonstrate how well you can explain and support an idea, not just what you know. Keep the following in mind:
    • Read over all the essay questions before you start to write. Underline key words like define, compare, explain, etc.
    • Think before you write. Remember, a good answer:
      • Starts with a direct response to the question.
      • Mentions the topics or areas described in the question.
      • Provides specific as well as general information.
      • Uses the technical vocabulary of the course.
    • Then map or outline the main points you want to make, determine the order in which you want to write your points, determine the support you want to add, then write.
    • Write legibly. Leave some space so you can add to your answer, later.
    • Proofread your essay. Check for grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. This often adds points!
  9. When problem solving, ask yourself:
    • What am I being asked to find?
    • What do I need to know in order to find the answer?
    • What information has been provided that will help me to find the answer?
    • How can I break the problem down into parts? What steps should I follow to solve the problem?
    • Does the answer make sense? Does it cover the whole problem?
  10. Keep an eye on the clock. Make sure you'll have time to complete the test sections with the highest value, if not the entire test.

After The Test...

  1. If the instructor reviews the exam in class, make sure you attend. Many students choose to skip class of the day of the review because "nothing is happening" that day. On the contrary, this is an important class to attend because it helps reinforce the information one more time in long term memory. Even if you aren't interested in the "learning" aspect of the class, it is an opportunity to hear what the instructor was looking for in the answers. This can help you on the NEXT exam.
  2. When you receive your test paper, go over it to determine areas of strength and weakness in your test-taking skills. If you have done poorly, learn from your mistakes! Always analyze your tests to determine how you can improve future test results.

Keep in mind that there are things you can do before, during, and after exams that will help you succeed in the class.

Online Testing Tips for Faculty...

  • If there is a planned testing schedule made for your department (with dates, times, and locations), please forward it to the SSU eLearning Office.
  • Let students know all of the directions for the test (timed, number of attempts, requires password). Give clear, specific directions and instructions. This can be done in the Description filed under Test Information when you edit the Test Options.
  • Take a trial run of the test. Take the test where the students will, if you have reserved lab space.
  • Encourage the students to use the Brightspace preferred browser for testing: Firefox.
  • Require the students to use a hardwired connection when testing. No one should test using a wireless connection. Be especially mindful of this when having a large number of students test in the same room.
  • Students should use Mobile only as a last resort.
  • Encourage students to bring short Ethernet cords and plug into the ports at their seats if their laptops have spotty Wi-Fi. Be aware that an Ethernet cord gives the most reliable connection.
  • Because students may still have access to other devices (cell phones, tablets, laptops, etc.), the testing environment is not as secure.