Tips for taking a test

Instructors use tests to assess your knowledge of course content and objectives. Your instructor assigns point values to questions in a test. You submit your test for grading and the results are recorded. You can view your grades when your instructor makes them available to you.

Start your test as soon as you can. If your instructor makes a test available for three days, plan to take the test early on the first day. If you have an issue, you'll have time to contact technical support and your instructor.

Read all of the instructions. If you have any trouble with your test or understanding test questions, contact your instructor immediately.

Check your internet connection.

  • A wired connection is usually more reliable than a wireless connection.
  • Check with your instructor and institution before you take a test with a cellular data connection. Most institutions will advise you to avoid a cellular data connection.

Don't refresh the page, close the window, or use the browser's back button while you take a test. If you have problems during a test, contact your instructor immediately.

Watch a video about Test Information and Preparation

The following narrated video provides a visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.

Video: Test Information and Preparation


Where do I access tests?

You can access tests from multiple areas, including both in and outside your courses. For example, you can access tests in the activity stream or in the calendar if your instructor added due dates.

Test notification in a student's activity stream.

If the due date has passed for a test, you’re alerted in the Important section of the activity stream.

More on late work

You can also find tests on the Course Content page. Your instructor may also organize tests in folders and learning modules. Surveys aren't supported in the Ultra Course View at this time.

Your instructor may create groups or ask you to self-enroll for group tests. Learn more about how group assessments work in the group assignments topic.

Students can take a test by clicking on this icon.

After you select a test, the Details & Information panel appears. View the due date, number of attempts allowed, the time limit if imposed, and possibly goals and a rubric for grading. Check if the due date has passed and if any submissions are or will be late.

Access code

Your instructor may require a 6-digit access code. Instructors issue the access codes, but they might have another person, such as a proctor, deliver the codes. After you type the code, you can open the test. You can use the code to resume a test you saved. You don't need the code to view your grades and feedback posted by your instructor. If your instructor changes the code between attempts, you'll need to ask for it again.

Test setting panel open focused on the assessment security section

Your instructor can also secure a test with the LockDown Browser. You need to provide the correct access code before the LockDown Browser is launched.

Proctored tests

Proctored tests are delivered with tools provided by proctoring services. Your instructor can add a proctoring service to a test. This is different than adding an access code, and the proctoring service may require a verification check to make sure your system is running the required setup. You can see if a test is proctored when you view the title in your course outline.

This is how a proctored exam looks like.

Is your test a timed test? Don't worry! The timer on tests doesn't start until after you've completed the proctoring verification check. So you'll still receive the allotted time for a test if it's a timed, proctored test.

Assessment security message telling students they must meet the proctor requirements for their test to start.

Ready to start?

If no time limit exists, you can view a test and you don't have to submit it. When you select View assessment, you can just view the test or add some work. Not ready to submit? Select Save and Close in the panel. If you previously started the test, your work was saved. Select View assessment to resume working.

If your instructor added a time limit, it appears alongside other test details on the Course Content page. You'll also see the time limit on the test's Details & Information panel and within the test, as you work. You'll see Start attempt instead of View assessment. When you select Start attempt, you'll receive a pop-up window to start the timer before you can access the test. If you're not ready to start, select Cancel. After you start, the test auto-submits when time is up.

If your instructor has enabled the Prohibit Late Submissions option, the test will be automatically submitted at the due date.

More on time limits

You can choose to hide the timer on timed tests to help you focus during assessments. Whenever you need to know how much time you have left, select the View icon next to the timer.

New timer with visibility control for students when answering tests with time limit


Hidden timer with visibility controls for students, when answering tests with time limit

Time remaining notifications. When you take a timed assessment, you’ll receive notifications telling you how much time you have left to submit your work. The notifications will depend on how much time your instructor assigned for the assessment: 

  • 10 minutes up to 1 hour: You’ll receive a single reminder when 10% of the time remains. For example, for an assessment with a ten-minute time limit, the notification will appear when there’s one minute left. 
  • 1 hour or longer: You’ll receive a notification when 50% of the time remains and a second notification when 10% of the time remains. For example, for an assessment with a one-hour time limit, notifications will appear when 30 minutes remain and when there are 6 minutes left. 

You won’t see any time remaining notifications if: 

  • Your assessment has a time limit below 10 minutes.
  • You are a student with an unlimited time accommodation.
Example notification of time remaining

Late work

After the due date has passed and you open a test, you’re alerted that your submission will be marked late. You can view the alert in the Details & Information panel and on the test page. In the Details & Information panel, you can also see if any submissions are or will be late.

On the test page, you can also see that you made a late submission.

If set up by your instructor, you may see zeros for work you haven't submitted after the due date passes. You can still submit attempts to update your grade. Your instructor determines grade penalties for late work.

More on zeros assigned to past due work

More on multiple attempts grades

Watch a video about Test Taking and Submission

The following narrated video provides a visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.

Video: Test Taking and Submission


Take a test

View the details. In the right panel, view all the information you need to complete a test—the due date, maximum points and time limit. See how many questions you have remaining at the top of the quiz.

Use the Questions Filter menu at the bottom of the page to help you with common test taking strategies. You can use it to:  

  • Complete the questions you know first and skip harder ones.
  • Navigate easily between answered and unanswered questions.
  • Quickly view essay questions. 
  • View any extra credit questions, if present.  

Type or choose your answers. You can use the options in the editor to format the text and embed images and attach files. If you view the editor on a smaller screen, select the plus icon to view the menu of options.

To use your keyboard to jump to the editor toolbar, press ALT + F10. On a Mac, press Fn + ALT + F10. Use the arrow keys to select an option, such as a numbered list.

Your answers will be auto saved two seconds after you’ve added your answer. Essay question responses are saved every 10s while you’re typing and also again 2s after you’ve stopped typing. Every time an answer has been auto saved, you will see a Last saved notification at the bottom of the assessment.

Last saved time stamp for auto save capability of the content editor

If you lose your connection to the internet, you’ll receive a Connection lost warning. Do not refresh the page or use your browser back button, and check that you are connected to the internet.

Connection lost warning

The warning disappears after 20 seconds. If your connection has not been restored by that time, another warning will let you know that your most recent work wasn’t saved.

Connection lost and progress not saved warning

Your work will auto save once the connection is restored and you will be notified.

Connection restored and progress saved alert

Auto saving is independent of your browser’s Undo action. When you use the Undo action, contents change according to your browser settings. Any changes because of an Undo action will auto save. 

View files. Your instructor may attach files that you need to complete a test.

More on viewing attached files

Add to the conversation. If your instructor enabled conversations, select the Open class conversation icon. Anyone can make a contribution to the test conversation, including your instructor.

More on conversations

Add additional content. At the end of a test, you can add text and files that support your answers, or add comments for your instructor. Your instructor can turn off the ability to add additional content. If you decide to add files and there is a time limit, make sure they have finished uploading before the timer has expired. Otherwise, they won't be included in your submission.

More on adding additional content

Not ready to submit? Select Save and Close to save your work and continue later. Your answers are saved on the page. When you return, you can resume working. However, if your instructor added a time limit, the test auto-submits when time is up.

Submit your test. Finished? Select Submit when you're ready for your instructor to grade your work.

If you try to submit a test with unanswered questions, an alert will appear showing the number of unanswered questions. You can decide whether to submit the test or keep working.

Warning for students to let them know when a question in a test hasn't been answered before submission

You can see your score immediately after submitting your work if all questions are auto-graded. When you submit, a panel appears with the date and time you made the submission.

Copy and save the unique submission confirmation number for your records. This confirmation confirms the assessment was successfully submitted into the system.

Your submission is labeled Not graded if it requires instructor grading. Select anywhere in the Grading section of the Details & Information panel to review your submission.

If your instructor allowed multiple attempts and you submit an attempt past the due date, the attempt is marked late. Any attempts you submit before the due date aren't marked late.

If your instructor allowed one attempt, you can't edit your work after you submit.

Add additional content

At the end of a test, select Add Content to open the editor. You can add text and files that support your answers. Your instructor may ask you to provide a file with sources. You can also add comments about the test. Only your instructor can view the content you add.

You can use the options in the editor to format the text and embed images and attach files. On small screens, you may need to select the plus button to view the dropdown menu of options. Options are sometimes shown as icons without accompanying text. Hover over the icon to see what it does. 

For example, select Insert/Edit Local Files—represented by the paper clip icon. Browse for a file from your computer. A status window appears to show the progress of the file upload.

For more details about options in the editor, see the "Add Files, Images, Video, and Audio" topic.

Insert from Cloud Storage: You can instantly connect to multiple web apps where you store files, such as in OneDrive® and Google Drive™. The files you add are copies. If you make a change to a file in cloud storage, you need to upload a new copy in your course. If your browser allows, media files you add from cloud storage display inline.

Word count in the editor

As you type in the editor for Essay questions and the additional content area, the word count appears below the editor. After you save, the word count no longer appears.

These items are included in the word count:

  • Individual words
  • Web links
  • Text in bulleted or numbered lists, but the bullets or numbers themselves aren't included
  • Superscript and subscript text not part of another word

These items and formatting elements don't affect the word count:

  • Images, videos, and file attachments
  • Math formulas
  • Blank spaces and lines
  • Alternative text

When you use punctuation to attach words or numbers, the count is affected. For example, "We went...without you" is counted as three words. The words or numbers on either side of the punctuation are counted as one word.

Edit your content

After you add content, open the menu and select Edit to make changes or add more content.

You can edit settings for the files you've added. Select a file in the editor and then select the Edit Attachment icon in the row of editor options. You can add a Display Name and Alternative Text. Alternative text describes the image for people who use screen readers or visit web pages with images turned off.

You can also choose to insert the file as a link in the editor or embed the file directly so it appears inline with other content you've added.

Reorder your text and files

Point to a text block or a file to access the Move icon. Press and drag the text block or file to a new location.

You can use your keyboard to move an item.

  1. Tab to an item's Move icon.
  2. Press Enter to activate move mode.
  3. Use the arrow keys to choose a location.
  4. Press Enter to drop the item in the new location.

View attached files

Your instructor may attach files that you need to read or use to complete a test. Your instructor decides how files appear, such as inline or as attachments.

For video and audio files that appear inline, select the title to open them in new windows. You have controls for play, pause, and volume control. For video files, you can view the video in full screen. You can also download the file.

For media files that appear as attachments, open the menu. Select Download Original File to download images, Word documents, PDFs, or slide presentations to your computer. Select Preview File to open the file on the course page, such as an image.

For image files that appear inline, you can select an image to view it separately.

View the rubric

If your instructor added a rubric for grading to a test, you can view it before you open the test and after you start the attempt. Select This item is graded with a rubric to view the rubric.

This is how students view a rubric before they open a gradable item or after they start the attempt.

If you want, you can view the rubric alongside the test instructions. You can expand each rubric criterion to view the achievement levels and organize your efforts to meet the requirements of the graded work.

Timed tests

Your instructor may limit the amount of time you have to submit your test. If you have a time limit, it appears alongside other test details on the Course Content page. You'll also see the time limit on the test's Details & Information panel and within the test, as you work. You'll find a countdown at the top left corner of the screen that will let you know the remaining time in minutes and, during the last minute, the time you have left down to the last second.

Missing media item.

When you select Start attempt, you'll receive a pop-up window to start the timer before you can access the test. If you're not ready to start, select Cancel.

If you see View assessment instead of Start attempt, the test isn't timed. You don't have to submit a test with no time limit when you open it.

Start the timer pop-up window with options to cancel timer or start timer.

If your instructor allows you to submit multiple attempts, the time limit applies to each attempt.

The timer keeps running whether or not you're actively working on the test. If you save a draft or leave the test window, the countdown continues and your work is saved and submitted when time is up. When you select Save and Close to return to the test later, you're reminded that the timer will continue.

The timer appears at the top of the window to let you know how much time is left. Your work is saved and submitted automatically when time is up.

Students can see a test's time limit and the time remaining for the test to end.

Anonymously graded tests

When you open a test, you're informed if your submission is set to be graded anonymously:

This assessment will be graded anonymously. Don't include any personal information, such as your name.

Your instructor won't see your name during grading. Your instructor may choose to grade anonymously to eliminate bias. Your instructor can't enable anonymous grading for group tests.

You shouldn't include any identifying information with your submission. Don't add your name to files you upload or use your name in any text you add.

You won’t see any indication of anonymous grading on your Grades page. Until your instructor posts grades, you'll see Not graded in the Grade column. If your instructor allowed multiple attempts, you'll also see Not graded for each attempt you've submitted.

The Submission page from the Student's view is open with two attempts on screen. One of it has a "Not graded" message and the other one has a "100/100" grade.

Respondus LockDown Browser

Student - Secure Assessment

Your instructor can deliver assignments and tests securely. Secure assessments help promote academic integrity and honesty in student submissions. Your institution may use Respondus tools to administer secure assessments.

About Respondus

Respondus LockDown Browser prevents your access to any other materials, including internet browsers or other software, while you have an assessment open. You can’t refer to external information or copy material from these sources while you take the assessment. Within the LockDown Browser window, the assessment appears like any other Ultra assessment.

Respondus Monitor uses your webcam to prevent your access to physical materials during the assessment. Your instructor may also require you to enable your webcam or show your ID to verify that you're who you say you are.

Visit the Respondus Knowledgebase for help

What can't I do during a secure assessment?

If your instructor set up assessment security, you can't perform these actions:

  • Open the assessment in a standard browser window
  • Open other programs or browser windows
  • Visit other websites
  • Copy and paste
  • Print
  • Add files, links, or videos to your submission content
  • Use certain keyboard shortcuts
  • Use your phone to submit attempts

    Your instructor may allow you to use the Respondus iPad app. Otherwise, you need to submit a secure assessment with the desktop software.

Download the tools

You need to have Respondus LockDown Browser downloaded on your computer to open a secure assessment in Blackboard Learn. If you haven’t downloaded the tools and try to open the assessment, a message appears with links where to download. Select the link to get started.

Respondus Monitor is included in the LockDown Browser software. Your institution uses a unique LockDown Browser download link and application. Your instructor or your institution's help desk can provide you with the download URL.

Open a secure assessment

On the Course Content page, you can see the tools you need to open secure assessments and submit attempts. When you open a secure assessment, the Details & Information panel appears to provide more information about the grade, number of attempts, and other settings. You see which tools you need to continue.

Before you begin an attempt, be sure to download the required software. Reminder: If you haven’t downloaded the tools and try to open the assessment, a message appears with links where to download.

Select View assessment. LockDown Browser launches in a new window. If your instructor required Respondus Monitor, the startup sequence begins.

Add text and answer questions in the assessment just as you do in a standard browser. You can save drafts of your work and return at later points to continue work or submit. Reminder: You can't add files, links, or videos to the editor when you submit a secure assessment.

View an attempt

You'll also need Respondus LockDown Browser to view submitted attempts for secure assessments. After your instructor posts your grade, you can find it in multiple places without additional software.

To view the correct answers for your submission, you need Respondus LockDown Browser. Open your attempt and select Review results in Respondus LockDown Browser to launch the tool.

Watch a video about Test Review and Feedback

The following narrated video provides a visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.

Video: Test Review and Feedback


Grades and feedback

Your instructor may choose not to reveal the correct answers to automatically scored questions immediately. A banner appears at the top of the assessment with this information. Check back later to see if answers have been revealed.

Your instructor must manually grade some question types such as Essays, and then post the test grade and feedback.

When grades are posted, you'll find them in your activity stream. Select View your grade to display your grade. If your instructor added feedback, you'll see it after the test title.

Students can view their grade by clicking on View my grade on their activity stream.

More on the activity stream

Your grades also appear on your global and course grades pages.

More on accessing grades

You can also open the test in your course to review your grade and feedback in context. Select the test title on the Course Content page and the Details & Information panel opens. Select anywhere in the Grading section to review what you submitted, available correct answers, and your grade and feedback. If your instructor left feedback, select the speech bubble icon to view it. If your instructor left feedback for multiple attempts, you can read each attempt's feedback.

More on feedback recordings

For questions where you chose from more than answer, you can select Show other options to review the answer choices.

If your instructor needs to grade questions in your test, Not graded appears in the Grading section in the test's side panel.

More on grade pill colors

Why can't I see my submission after I submit it?

Instructors decide when assessment results become available. As a result, you may not be able to view your submission right away. 

Scoring options

Your instructor determines how Matching and Multiple Answer questions are scored.

Example: Graded Matching question

Submitted question with visible grade and feedback on correct answer and overall matched pairs.
  1. The question's grade pill displays the points earned. Matches are scored based on the scoring option your instructor chose.
  2. A summary of how many pairs you matched correctly appears above the prompts and answers.
  3. Correct matches appear with a check mark icon and have a green background.
  4. Incorrect matches appear with an X icon and have a light red background.

Matching questions

Partial credit. You receive partial credit if you answer part of the question correctly. Pairs are equally weighted.

All or nothing. You must match all pairs correctly to receive full credit. One or more incorrect matches = 0 points.

Subtract points for incorrect answers, but question score can't be negative. You lose points for incorrect matches or empty answers. Pairs are equally weighted. The question score can't be less than 0 points.

Allow a negative question score. You earn points for each correct match and lose points for each incorrect match or empty answer. The total question score can equal less than 0.


A question has 5 pairs worth 2 points each for a total of 10 points. You match 2 pairs correctly:

You earn 4 points for 2 correct matches and lose 6 points for 3 incorrect matches for a negative score of -2 for the question.

Multiple Answer questions

  • All or nothing: You must choose all answer choices correctly to receive full credit. One or more incorrect answer choices = 0 points.
  • Allow partial credit: You receive partial credit if you answer part of the question correctly.
  • Subtract points for incorrect answers: You lose points for incorrect answer choices. The question score can total less than 0.

Score changes on questions

Your instructor can make changes to points for a question after grading is complete. Your updated grade also appears in the activity stream and on your Grades page.

Your instructor may also give full credit for a question that wasn't fully covered in the lecture or explained well. After grading is completed, you can see which questions your instructor awarded full credit. Full credit given appears next to the grade pill and is also noted in the answers section.

This is how students view full credit given for a question.

Offline Submissions (Student)

Offline submissions

Your instructor can add assessments that don't require you to upload a submission.

Examples of offline work:

  • Oral presentations
  • Science fair projects
  • Acting performances
  • Artwork delivered in person
  • Face-to-face team building exercises, panel discussions, and debates

You can view the assessment alongside other content on the Course Content page and on your global and course grades pages. When you access the assessment from these course areas, you're informed you can't submit work online. Your instructor can add instructions, files, a rubric, and goals to help you prepare for the offline work. You can also participate in the assessment's conversations if enabled.

The Course content panel from the Student's view is open with 1) an example assignment selected and 2) the "Grading rubric" and "Goals standards" options highlighted.

For offline submissions, you can't submit multiple attempts and your instructor can't add a time limit.

When your instructor assigns a grade, you're notified in your activity stream.

On your Course Grades page, your grade appears with Submitted offline. If your instructor used a rubric to grade, the grade pill displays a rubric icon.