Best Practices for Course Directors

February 26, 2016 Josh Neidish

Courtesy of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio Dental School

1. When entering questions, all symbols, such as degree sign, micron, etc., need to be retyped in ExamSoft using the symbol function.

2. For students who have been approved for accommodations, their increased time has already been set in ExamSoft. Course Directors must arrange for a room and proctor. Course directors can contact the office of Online Blended Learning to reserve the Testing Center and request proctoring assistance. If at all possible, their exams should start BEFORE the rest of the class so everyone can have the same exam end time and upload deadline. This will prevent the need to change the upload deadline at the end of the exam and prevent the need for students to miss the next class.

3. When making the assessment, the “Time Limit” for each exam needs to be set at 5 minutes before the end of the assigned time, e.g. if the time allotted for the exam is 50 minutes, the actual exam “Time Limit” should be set at 45 minutes to allow for 5 minutes of upload time, and to allow the next instructor to come in and set up.

4. Faculty should preview their exam using the “Preview” feature in the assessment before posting it for students. Make sure any symbols are correctly displayed. It is best to use the “Insert Special Character” function in the question editor for symbols. This will ensure that all symbols will be accurately displayed.

5. When posting the exam/quiz, remember to do the following:

a. Set an “Assessment Password” 

b. Set “Max Downloads” to “1”. If additional downloads are needed, that can be changed on an individual basis later.

c. “Download End” should be set to 10 minutes AFTER the start of the exam/quiz time in case extra downloads are needed. Students have been instructed that no downloads are allowed at the exam.

d. “Email Download Reminder” should be set to the earliest possible date. An email will be automatically sent by ExamSoft telling the students that the exam is ready for download.

e. “Upload Deadline” should be set to 10 minutes after the end of the scheduled exam time to allow sufficient time for exams to be uploaded and for any troubleshooting should that be necessary. Exams attempted to be uploaded after that time will be rejected by ExamSoft and should not be accepted by the faculty.

f. Post exams/quizzes at least 48 hours before the scheduled exam date.

6. Have at least one copy of the exam in hard copy. If there is a problem that can't be fixed in a reasonable time, allow the student to take the hard copy exam. Work with Dr. Whang after the exam to find out where the problem was. If it was the student's 'fault', points should be taken off the final grade (amount to be discussed at CD forum in July).

7. Before the exam, students should be directed to leave the exam room and wait outside with all of their belongings until allowed to enter by the proctor. Students should only be allowed to enter the exam room, one at a time, through a single designated entrance such as the front. When entering, each student should be handed a single blank, colored sheet of paper and directed to put backpacks, phones, jackets, hats, etc. in the front of the room, and to sit in their preassigned seats when applicable. Every effort needs to be made to individually hand out one sheet to each student.

8. Instruct students to write their names on the blank piece of paper and to hand it in at the conclusion of the exam before they leave the exam room.

9. Before the exam, tell all students to exit ALL programs, especially antivirus software. Then they can open SofTest. This is very important in minimizing the number of computer problems and delayed starts.

10. There must be a minimum of 2 proctors with 3 proctors preferred.

11. If students arrive late to the exam, they should be instructed to end the exam and upload at the same end time other students are given so they can upload before the “Upload Deadline”.

12. When students are finished, collect the students’ sheets of paper and verify that they have gotten to the green checkmark before letting them leave the room. Leaving the room without successfully uploading the exam and showing the green check mark is like leaving the room without turning in the exam.

13. Increasing number of downloads: Should a student need to redownload an exam, maybe because their computer crashed after they downloaded the exam and they are now using a loaner, the number of Max Downloads can be increased. 

  • Got to “Assessments”
  • Click “Exam Taker Activity” (icon with two people on right side of screen) of your assessment
  • Click the green arrow under “Max D/Ls” column for that particular student
  • Increase number for “Max Downloads” by 1, click “Save”.

14. Changing Upload Deadline:

  • Click “Assessments”
  • Click on the pencil icon under the “Post” column for that exam
  • Change “Upload Deadline” to desired time
  • Click “Save Post”.
  • Note: do NOT create a new post.


Q: What do I do if a student’s computer crashes while trying to start the exam or during the exam?

A: Simply have the students reboot their computer. If the student had not started the exam, they will need to relaunch SofTest. If the student was in the middle of the exam, SofTest will automatically go back to where the student left off.

Q: What do I do if a student does not see the exam in SofTest?

A: Verify that they downloaded it. Under SofTest, go to “Available Exams.” If they have not downloaded the exam, it should be visible and they just need to download it. If it is not visible there, click on the “Downloaded Exams” tab and see if it is there. Once the exam has been found, then they need to click “Previous”, then “Cancel”, then “Take an Exam”. If the assessment is not visible under both tabs, then allow a second download (see above).

Q: What do I do if the navigation bar on the right does not show that all the questions have been answered?

A: The navigation bar does not update in real time. To show the update, have the student toggle between the “Alarm” bar and the “Navigation” bar.

Q: What do I do if a student cannot upload the exam?

A: Wait a little. Sometimes it needs a little time to reconnect to the Internet. Then click “Upload Now.” If that does not work, click “Upload later” or “Manual Upload.” The student should have received an email stating that the upload failed. That email contains the instructions on how to manually upload the exam. Follow the instructions to manually upload.

Q: How do I accept exams that have failed to upload after the upload window has closed?

A: Go into “Assessments,” click the relevant exam, click “Post Assessment”, and put in a new upload deadline. Note: This should only be done in special circumstances because it will then allow all exams that were not uploaded on time to upload as well. 

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