Setting up Your Online (MCQ-Type) Timed Test

Watch a video about creating Tests

This video explains how to create a test, add questions, and make the test available to students.

Setting up a Test on Blackboard

This next section will describe a recommended workflow for creating a test, and deploying it in your course for students to access it.

  • See also some aspects to consider before you begin in our previous page.

1. Decide if you need a test or a pool

You should always use the Tests, Surveys and Pools option in the  drop-down menu item Course Tools, in the Blackboard Control Panel.

Course Tools

There are two options for the creation of the test:

  • Pools. You can use Pools to create a unique test for each student by adding a random block of questions.  This is a good approach for multiple choice quiz (MCQ) assessments as it gives each student a different set of questions and allows you to add to your random block of questions in future. Care needs to be  taken that questions are of the same standard of difficulty, of course.  After creating your questions in the Pool (or pools, if you have multiple topics), you continue and create a test by selecting from your pool of questions.
  • Tests. If you select the Tests option, you simply create  your defined set of questions in succession, adding each question in turn. You will be unable to select from questions from a larger pool (note you can still change the order and  present questions in random sequence (see next section).
1.1. Build a pool
  • Go you your Blackboard course and go to Control Panel > Course Tools > Tests, Surveys, and Pools > Pools
  • On the Pools page, select Build Pool.
  • On the Pool Information page, type a name. Optionally, provide a description and instructions.
  • Select Submit.
1.2. Build a test
  • Go you your Blackboard course and go to Control Panel > Course Tools > Tests, Surveys, and Pools > Pools
  • On the Tests page, select Build Test.
  • On the Test Information page, type a name. Optionally, provide a description and instructions.
  • Select Submit.

2. Create your questions

After you build a Test or Pool, you can begin to create your individual questions. Blackboard Learn provides many types of questions to choose from when creating tests.  

  • On the Test or Pool Canvas, from the Create Question menu, select a question type.
  • On the Create/Edit page, provide the necessary information to create a question. There are 17 question types available in Blackboard. Only use question types which you are familiar with or  very confident that you understand. Note carefully the options for each (for example for multiple choice you can choose to randomise the way in which the individual answers/choices are presented). Also take care if you are copying and pasting text from another location to prevent unintentional formatting
  • Select Submit.

When you have added all the questions you need, select OK. The test is added to the list on the Tests page and is ready to make available to students.

Questions types:

The following are some additional strategies to consider for academic integrity in the context of timed online exams, where access to resources are usually not permitted, or are highly restricted:

  • Use question pools and/or randomize the questions and answers so that it is more difficult for students to share answers.
  • Use some open-ended questions, after MCQ types, where student need to justify the reasons for their choice of answer.
2.2. Honour code question

Implement an honour code question to include in your test, for your students to respond to. (e.g. a Multiple Choice question with the wording, "In submitting this work I confirm that it is entirely my own and I have not consulted any additional resources or people during the duration of this test. I acknowledge that I may be invited to online interview if there is any concern in relation to the integrity of my exam". ).

Be sure to provide students with clear instructions on exam arrangements and what is permitted/not permitted in terms of access to resources or other aid in completing the exam.

3. Deploy the Test to students

After you create a test or a pool of questions, the next step is to deploy it to make it available to students on your Blackboard course.

  • Go to the content area in which you wish the test to appear. This can be anywhere you choose (perhaps a section called  Assessment, or Exam, or somewhere obvious for the students to find).
  • Select Assessments to access the menu and select Test .
  • Select the Test you wish to deploy from the list.
I've started with a Pool, not a Test. What do I do now?

If you have begun by creating a Pool of questions, you can now create a new test that will select your questions from your question pool, as per the below video. When the Test you create from your reused pool of questions is ready, you can progress to the same next step, to configure your test options.

  • Select Submit. The Test Options page appears.
I've started with a Test but wish to make it into a Pool
  • Go to Build Pool and create a pool for your questions. Select Find Questions, chose the Test with the questions and select (using check boxes) the questions you want to use from the test file.
  • Repeat for any other pools you need to create.
  • Then create a new Test, selected Reuse Questions --> Create Random Block, and chose the pools, and select the number of questions you want to randomly bring in. Then create a second random block, choosing the second of the pools this time, etc, if needed.
  • This gives you a Test with the required random ordering of the first questions followed by a random ordering of the second questions, etc.

Your Test Options page

Next, you will see your Test Options page.

Tip: You can re-access these options anytime by selecting Edit the Test Options on your Test link that you have created your Blackboard course.

You will be presented with a range of options which cover the instructions, availability, due dates, feedback, self-assessment,  and the presentation of the test.

These items need careful consideration. Please read your test settings closely, and consider these recommendations. These settings are not definitive or mandated but suggestions that you might find helpful. There are lots of possible configurations and you will choose those that best suit your own particular needs and style of testing. Many of you are very experienced in using these tools and have refined your approach and test design. Please configure in the way that works best for you. The main thing is just to check your choices and test them out in a pilot run to make sure that the test operates as you expect.

New window

Do not select to Open test in new window. This reduces (but does not eliminate) the opportunity for a student to browse Blackboard while taking the test.

Multiple Attempts

Allow, but limit, multiple attempts. This is to avoid a situation where a student gets locked out of a test by mistake, but doesn't allow a student to take a test many multiple times.  If you allow multiple attempts, give very clear instructions on which rule you are applying (e.g. highest score or last graded attempt).

Force Completion

Do not Force Completion. This has caused problems with students being locked out of tests and needing intervention by an instructor to clear the original attempt. If you turn on Force Completion, students must complete the test when they launch it. If students accidentally close their browsers, leave the test page, loses power or internet connection, they can't continue. They must contact you and ask for a new attempt. Therefore, we recommend that you do not select Force Completion. This allows the user to persist his/her answers. In case of any issues with the session timing out, the user will be able to re-enter the exam from the last point he/she saved, allowing them to submit the exam with minimal data loss.

Note: Some instructors consider using force completion where they are able to manage requests to clear attempt where the student has network or technical difficulties that require them to reaccess the test during the exam.

Set Timer

Set the timer. This causes a countdown to  appear while the student is taking the test, but also records the completion time for the test.  You can view students completion times in their submissions. Select the Set Timer option and type the amount of time in the Minutes box. The maximum time you can add is 420 minutes.

During a timed test, the time elapsed is displayed to students. Timer  warnings appear at set increments when half the time remains down to 30  seconds. If students save and exit the test, the timer continues. Students can return to work on the test until they submit.

Do not set Auto-Submit ON, as this can cause problems. It is better to allow the student to complete and  see how long they took on the results. If the time goes beyond the time allocated for the test, you can consider say that it invalidates their attempt. Make this clear to  students that they should complete within the allocated time.  

Date and Time

Set the time the link should be display to students to match your exam (e.g. after 21/05/2020 at 10:00 to 21/05/2020 at 11:00 for a one hour exam).

  • Option 1: You can make the test available for a more restricted time period only if you want to force the students to start only at the start of the exam period – Give enough time to ensure that students have all accessed and started the test (e.g. have it display for only twenty minutes). The link to access the test will only appear to students as long as the test is available, and within the indicated times.
    If students have already started the test, they can continue and submit even if the link is not visible, but they cannot re-enter the test . This setting prevents late starting but allows students who need to connect again to get in, particularly if they are allowed a small number of multiple attempts, and can help with students having some difficulty connecting or starting.
  • Option 2: If you wish to be more open in this regard and make the test available for the whole period, i.e. allowing late arrivals, then you do not need to apply this particular constraint. Also, if you are using images in your tests, you will need to ensure the time is set to display for the entire exam or image links will become inaccessible.

If you make test link visible to students ONLY for short period of time, students will need to enter and begin the test within this time frame. If they are unable to access the exam for technical reasons within your set display window, revert your back-up plan.

Test Exceptions

For existing availability settings, you can make exceptions for  individual students or groups. You might use exceptions to provide an accommodation to a student who needs particular provisions for assessment, or for technology and language differences. Further information regarding student supports in the case of disability can be found at https://www.nuigalway.ie/disability/


You can create these exceptions for a user or a group, including:

  • Number of attempts
  • Timer
  • Availability: Date and time the test is available to the student or group

Click on the Add User or Group button.

  • You will now see a screen labeled Add User or Group, which lists all the  of users and groups in your course. To add users or groups, check the  boxes next to the names of the users you wish to create exceptions for. 
  • When you have selected the user or group, click the Submit button.
  • You can apply the relevant test availability exceptions:
  • Attempts: Select the number of attempts allowed for the student.
  • Timer: Enter the time limit in minutes allowed for the selected student. Do not check the Auto Submit option.
  • Availability: Click on the calendar icon to specify the date and duration for which the link to access the exam should be visible to the student(s), if different to the rest of the class.
  • Click the X button to delete the student from the list of exceptions

When finished, scroll down to the bottom and click the Submit button.

Feedback

Show no feedback to students following the test. Deselect all the feedback checkbox options to do this.

Be sure to deleselect ANY Checkboxes under this section or students will be able to see their marks and their questions after they submit the test.

Presentation Settings
  • Select All at once in the Test Presentation options, if possible. This  means that the students will be able to scroll up and down moving  through the questions and going back to ones they want to check before  submitting.  
  • Presenting questions One at a Time means that they will  have to click back and forth sequentially, loading pages each time, so  might present issues if connectivity is an issue.
  • However, if the test  is large and has lots of images it might be impractical to load  everything on to a single page and you can then choose the One at a Time  option.
Randomise Questions

Randomise:It is recommended to randomise the order in which the questions are presented to students.

Availability

Availability: Make the test available to students.

More information

Find out more about test options on Blackboard's help site directly.

  • After you have adjusted all your test settings, select Submit. The test is now deployed in that content area and will be made  available to students according to the dates/times you set. 

Hide the Grade Center Column

To ensure that marks do not get inadvertently released to students  through My Grades, we recommend that you hide the Grade Centre column from students.

Please ensure you have set the  (a) Date and Time, (b) Feedback and the (c) Grade Column visibility correctly, to prevent students from accessing their results.

Students will be unable to complete the test on a mobile device. Please advise them not to use the Blackboard mobile app to undertake a test. See additional advice you can give your students here.

Other question authoring considerations

  • Including images in your questions: It is possible to include images in test  questions (and in question answers). However, if there are concerns  about student access to broadband please be careful about using these,  particularly if a large image file, or multiple files. If there needs to  be reference to a large or detailed image or diagram, it is recommended  to make that available in a separate document which can be downloaded  in advance.  
  • Negative Scoring: It is possible to assign negative scores for  incorrect answers. From an educational perspective this is not generally  recommended. You can also provide partial credit for answers, but the  best advice is to keep things as simple as possible.
  • Random Scoring: If you  randomise questions from a pool, then, of course, your planned back up version of  the test will not match the one the student was originally being  presented with and all students having to avail of this backup test will get the same paper.