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The Note icon The De Montfort University guidance for taking examinations remotely May-June 2021 [DMU login required] outlines the full guidance relating to electronic exams. Section 4.3 “Should a problem arise on the day of the examination” refers to alternative pathways for students to submit should a technical issue arise.

The Note icon This guide describes the process required when providing a blank exam paper for students to download, complete and submit in lieu of attending a face to face exam using the File Response question type.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this guide you should know;

  • How to create a Test in Blackboard as an exam,
  • How to use the ‘double-timed’ technique to ensure students are timed, and
  • How to access and provide grades and feedback for submitted exams.

Watch a video of this guide.

The video contains the stock process and basic steps to set up and manage an online exam using a Blackboard Test. However, the text guide below does include notes and signposts that will help you deal with exceptions and potential issues outside of the stock workflow.

Download a transcript of this video.

1. From the Content Area move over Assessments and click on Test.

Selecting Test from the Content Area

2. Click the Create button.

The Create button

3. Provide a name and instructions, click Submit.

Typing the name and instructions

4. Move over Create Question and select File Response.

Selecting File Response

The Note icon The Essay question type could be used as an alternative but it is recommended that the File Response is favoured.

5. Complete the Question Title and Question Text fields, click Submit.

Authoring the question

The Note icon The Question Title is not visible to students – this is for staff reference only.

The Note icon Ensure that the blank exam paper is included in the Question Text only, alongside the further instructions.

The Note icon The students will only be able to upload and submit one file per question. Please ensure that they are made aware of this and if necessary, add multiple File Response questions where multiple answer sheets are required.

6. Ensure the Points field is set to 100 and click Submit and Ok.

Setting Points to 100

7. Select the new Test and click Submit.

Selecting and submitting the new Test

8. On the following screen set these options:

  • Show test description to students before they begin the test. NO
  • Open test in new window. NO
  • Make Available to students. YES
  • Add a new announcement for this test. NO
  • Multiple Attempts. NO
  • Force Completion. NO
  • Set Timer. YES
  • Minutes. THE AMOUMT OF TIME THE EXAM REQUIRES (e.g. 180 minutes for a 3 hour exam)
    • Please do not include any extra time for students who require adjustments or stop the clock breaks at this point, please see step 9. below regarding adding extra time.
  • Auto-Submit. ON
  • Display After. 8AM ON THE DAY OF THE TEST
  • Display Until. 6PM ON THE DAY OF THE TEST
  • Password. LEAVE BLANK.


The Note icon Students must be advised that they should start their attempt in time to complete it by 6pm to ensure support is available if required during their exam time.

9. Allocate any extra time requirements (for IEA and/or stop the clock breaks) using the Add User or Group button. Click Submit.

The Add user or Group button

The Note icon Click here to see how to create Blackboard Groups and manage students who require extra time and stop the clock breaks when taking online exams.

The Note icon When allocating extra time requirements please be aware that time should be allocated to those students who qualify for extra time and those who qualify for a stop the clock break, or both. Students for whom extra time has been added will not be aware of this – the timer will show their amended timer throughout the attempt.

The Note icon Extra time should be added to the initial exam time and the total typed in. For example; if the exam is 180 minutes and the student requires 25% extra, the figure ‘225’ should be typed.

The Note icon If an individual student does not see the correct exam time, advise them to click ‘Save and Submit’ and clear their Attempt in the Grade Centre. You should then edit the Test Options and add the student’s extra time and/or stop the clock allocation using the Add User or Group button; please do not make any other changes. Advise the student to Begin the Test again.

10. The Test is now deployed and will be available to students at 08:00hrs on the day of the exam. When students click the Begin button to start the Test, the timer will begin.

The deployed Test

11. If a student experiences a technical failure during their attempt and after the Display Until time has elapsed; you will need to Modify the Test Options in order to manipulate the Display Until date. This will make the Test link available to them once more in order for them to be able to continue their attempt. However, the timer will not pause and any time spent restarting/logging back in will be lost.

Accessing Modify the Test Options to manipulate the Display Until date

The Note icon If a student experiences a technical failure, provided the Display Until time has not elapsed they will be able to return and continue their attempt. However, the timer will not pause and any time spent restarting/logging back in will be lost.

11. To mark the completed exam papers click on Grade Centre>Full Grade Centre.

Selecting Grade Centre>Full Grade Centre

12. Students who have attempted the exam will show with the Needs Marking icon in the exam column.

The Needs Marking icon

The Note icon Where the submissions are to be marked anonymously, click the Edit Icon toward the top of the column and select Mark with Usernames Hidden.

Selecting Mark with Usernames Hidden

13. Click the Needs Marking icon and select ‘Attempt xx/xx/xx‘.

Selecting the Attempt

14. Next to ‘Given answer’ click the link to open the students’ completed exam paper.

Opening the submitted completed exam paper

The Note icon The submitted exam paper will open in the appropriate software dependent on your local computer settings. Do not close Blackboard or move away from the Attempt in the background.

15. Read/review the submitted exam paper. If an electronic marking grid is in use, complete this as usual.

16. Once a grade has been arrived at, click on Blackboard in the background to return to the student’s Attempt and type the grade into the Points box.

Typing a grade into the Points box

17. Using the ‘Feedback and notes for attempt’ section, type the feedback into the ‘Feedback to Learner’ section. If an electronic marking grid has been used, attach this using the Add Content button.

The Note icon By default, students will be able to see their exam mark in the Blackboard My Marks section, if this is not desired please hide the Grade Centre column from students.

The Note icon Do not use the Response Feedback section for administering feedback.

The Note icon Please do not write comments on the student’s submission, all feedback should be added to the Feedback to Learner section only.

Typing feedback into the Attempt

18. Click the Submit button.

The Exit and Submit buttons

19. You will be returned to the Grade Centre and should repeat from step 12 until all Attempts are marked with feedback.

The Note iconIt is not possible to batch download Attempts when using Blackboard’s File Response question type in this way. Therefore colleagues must be online to mark exams that have been conducted using this technique.

The Note icon At the end of each marking session, please remove the downloaded student submissions from the Downloads (or equivalent) folder on your computer.