11 – Setting up Blackboard Tests and Quizzes

In this video, we cover:

  • How to set up a test/quiz
  • The question types and how to assign points
  • How to set up and use a question pool

1 Setting up a Test or Quiz

 Let’s take a look at how you can create quizzes or tests in your module.

Hover your mouse on the separator between items where you want the submission and click on the purple plus icon that appears, then choose “Create” from that menu.

In the side panel that opens, choose the option for “Test”.

At the top of the page, the title will be given as default as “New Test” followed by the date. To change this, simply click on this title and start editing. Once you click out of this area, the name is saved. you can edit this at any time by repeating this process.

To the right of this, you can edit the visibility for the assignment, although you can always set this later.

Below that is an arrow to move into the submission box, but we’ll come back to that briefly later.

We’ll look at the full test settings shortly, as these can be quite complicated. First, let’s look at this main content area on the left. You can use the plus sign to add content into this space. We’ll cover how to add questions shortly.

Below that, you can see a box for adding text – this is what you will want to use to provide any instructions for the test.

The next two options are to upload a file. Do note that if you add a file from Cloud Storage, it will add a static file – this will not be updated if the original file is edited in the cloud. Due to this, we typically recommend adding a local file just to avoid any confusion.  Once you have selected the file to upload click on open, you will see a pop-up that will let you re-name the display name from the file name and decide if you want students to be able to access the file by viewing and downloading, viewing only, or downloading only. We recommend that you select view and download or download only.

The reason we strongly recommend using an option that includes “download” is because that will allow students to download the file in alternative formats using the Ally tool. If you choose “view only”, students lose access to these alternative formats, and it also doesn’t prevent students from saving or keeping your file as they can screen capture anything from your modules. One final note about uploading files – it can be helpful to upload the file in the original format that you created it in (for example DOCX instead of PDF). This can let students download the original file and change font size, colour contrast, and other elements that can help with accessibility. Once file options have been selected click on save.

2 Adding Questions & Question Types

To add questions, select the plus sign, and select a question type.  We’ll go through the question types shortly, but it’s important to note two things. First, you’ll need to save each question before you move on to create the next. Second, you will notice all questions have a default value of 10 points.  You can change points value by simply selecting the points box and typing in a new value, then click away from the box and your new points value will have been saved. There are some additional options you may have for allocating points based on the question type, we’ll discuss this along with a description of each question type.

Underneath each question type that allows automatic marking, you will have the option to select automated feedback for both the incorrect and/or correct answer.

The question types available when creating a quiz / test are:

Calculated formula

Calculated formula questions present students with a question that requires them to make a calculation and respond with a numeric answer.

Calculated numeric

With Calculated numeric questions students are presented with a question that requires a numeric answer.  The question does not need to be a mathematical formula. You can provide a text question that requires a numeric answer. In the top box you can type your question then underneath you have the correct answer box to type in your answer, note: the answer must be Integer, decimal or E notation allowed with a maximum of 16 digits.

For the answer you can specify an exact numeric answer, or you can specify an answer and an allowable range.


Essay questions require students to type an answer in a text box or upload a file, and you need to grade these questions manually as these cannot be automatically marked.

Fill in the blank

Fill in the blanks in a question consist of a phrase, sentence or paragraph with a blank space where a student provides the missing word or words.  In the box you can type your question, to format your question, type brackets around the answer and separate multiple answers with a semicolon.

For example: One of the primary colours is [red; blue; yellow] then click on Next Step where you will see Blank 1 is already filled in.  Here you can choose response type from the drop-down options by selecting exact match, contain match or match a pattern. You can also select the box for case sensitive. 

Questions can be created with multiple blanks. Click save once you have created your question.


Matching questions are where students pair items in the prompts column to items in the answers column.  In the top box type in your question, then you have the prompts and answers boxes below to complete.  You can select add answer to add additional answers.  The number of items in each column does not have to be equal as answers can be reused. 

Below that, you have the scoring options:

  • Allow partial credit
  • All or nothing
  • Subtract points for incorrect answers, but question score can’t be negative
  • Allow negative question score

Click save when done.

Multiple choice

In multiple choice questions students select one or more correct answers from several choices.  Students are not notified if they a required to choose one or multiple answers.  The test area opens allowing you type in your question then below you have four containers to type the answers.  Note you do not have to use all four containers and can delete ones that are not required by clicking on the bin icon. Alternatively, you can click on additional choice at the bottom to add additional answers. 

Beside the answers you will see small tick to select which the correct answer or answers. Remember each multiple-choice question must have at least two answer choices and one or more correct answers. Any empty answer containers must be deleted then click on save.

There is one odd thing to note about this question type. If you have a question that has multiple right answers, a student can select all answers and receive full points – even if they have also selected incorrect answers. We recommend using this question type if there is only one right answer.

True or false

True or false questions students choose either true or false in response to a question.

Type your question in the top box then select either true or false as the answer below

Those are your question types! To edit or delete any questions, you can go to the three dots beside the question and either choose “delete” to remove the question, or “edit” to go in and change anything in the question.

You can see a tick box for “Allow students to add content at end of assessment” that is on by default if you have not added any questions. This space will allow students to upload files and/or type in a text response. For most tests, you will want to turn this option off unless you want students to be able to upload a file at the end of the test, separate from any specific question. Finally click save.

2.1 Reusing Questions

You can reuse questions from all existing tests, assignments, and question banks in your course.  You can also copy question banks from other courses and import questions into your course to add to your assessments.

You can’t reuse questions when these settings or conditions exist:

  • You’ve added a rubric to your assessment.
  • You’ve chosen to collect submissions offline.
  • Students have opened the assessment.

In an assessment, select the plus sign wherever you want to reuse questions. Select “Reuse questions” from the menu. Select the check boxes for the questions you want to copy. You can view how many items you’ve selected at the bottom of the screen.  You can also use Select all and Clear all options at top of the page to choose all and remove all questions.

Once you have selected the required questions to be reused click on “Copy Questions” at the bottom of the page and the copied questions are inserted at this point in the assessment. You can edit the copied questions in your assessment without concern as the changes you make to one instance of the question is not reflected in other instances of the question elsewhere. You can also edit the number of points for each question individually so each question can have a different bearing.

In addition to setting up specific questions, you may want to set up a “Question Pool”. This is a feature that can allow you to create a pool of questions that you can draw on to randomly pull from.

2.2 Creating a Question Pool

First, you will need to set up a new test just for the Question Pool, and you will want to keep this as “hidden from students”. Follow the steps for creating a test, and make sure that the name is clear for you and any other instructors who may want to use the pool.

Create the questions in this test area that you want in your pool.

Once you’ve set this up, go back into the test that you will give to students where you want the question pool to be.

Click on the plus sign icon to add a new question, but this time select the option for “Add Question Pool”.

This will open a new window that will show you all of the tests and question banks in your module. Use the panel on the side to find the assessment you just created for the question pool. Note that you can also search for questions and use the filters to find by question type and within an assessment or sets of assessments.

Select the check boxes for the questions you wish to add then select “Add Questions”.

This will then open to a new page where you can edit the number of points however you can only edit the number of points which will apply to all the questions meaning you cannot have questions with different bearings.  Below this is a box “Number of questions to display to students” here you can select any number providing this does not exceed the number of questions in the pool.

Select “Save” to add the Question Pool to your assessment.

Now that the question pool has been created, you have the option to click on “View Questions”. This lets you use the three dot menu on the right, which will allow you to “Edit/Remark” and “Remove from pool”. If you select “Edit/Remark”, this will allow you to edit the question, answer, or points; however, remember any edits to a question in a question pool will apply to every assessment that contains the question or questions.  Remove from pool does exactly what is says

3 Test settings

Now that we’ve got the main points in the submission area sorted, let’s take a look at the settings. There are a few things set up here by default, but to see the full range of options, click the cog wheel to the right of the “Test Settings”.

Details and Information

In the “Test Settings”, the first section we can see is called “Details and Information”. The first item here allows you to enter the due date and time. The two tick boxes below can be used to control submissions past the due date. You can use the first box if you want to prohibit late submissions – you can see the text here lets you know that all in-progress attempts will be submitted automatically at the due date and time. This can be a useful setting for tests where students may be entering answers in multiple questions but be sure you let students know what will happen. All submissions are time-stamped, so you’ll still be able to identify any submissions which come in after the due date.

Below this is the option to prohibit new attempts after the due date – if a student has already started an attempt earlier, or an attempt is in-progress, they will still be able to submit after the due date has passed but students can’t start new attempts once the due date and time has passed.

The next option is to allow class conversations – this is essentially a discussion board linked just to this assignment. If you want students to have a linked chat to this item, you may want to turn this on.

Presentation Options

The first option here is display one question at a time, this is where the student answers one question then continues to the next question.  If “Display one question at a time” option is selected, then the next option which is “Prohibit backtracking” can be selected which prevents students going back to questions they have already answered, and questions are presented one at a time. If a student skips a question, an alert informs the student that they cannot go back to the question.  

You then have the option to “Randomise questions” which shows questions to students in a random order.

Finally, you have “Randomise answers” where Multiple Choice and Matching answer choices are randomly ordered for students.

Marking and Submissions

The mark category will be set as the default of “Test”. You can use the drop-down menu to change this. The mark category is currently only relevant if you set up the overall mark in the gradebook – for more information on this you can review the dedicated session on gradebook.

After that is the number of attempts allowed. It can often be a good idea to set this to at least “two” so that students have a back-up in place should they have any technical difficulties when they try to submit. However, you can also add an extra attempt to a specific student, so if you do keep this as “one”, you still have the ability to allow more submissions on a case-by-case basis.

If you do allow multiple attempts, you’ll see a new drop-down menu appears that lets you choose which attempt will be marked.

Below that is the mark using drop-down menu where you can decide between points, percentage, and the 23 to Alphanumeric scale. If you have watched the assignment set up for Turnitin, you may be aware that the 23 to Alphanumeric scale marking schema does not work with Turnitin assignments. There are no such known issues if you use this marking schema with Blackboard assignments.

Below that area  few options which will be greyed out as they cannot be used with tests. These include the maximum points, as the points are allocated per question and the maximum points is the sum of all of the question points.

Anonymous marking, multiple markers, and peer review are all also options which cannot be used for automatically-marked tests.

The last part in this section is “Assessment mark” which gives the option to “Post assessment marks automatically”. This does exactly what is says – assessment marks will automatically appear to the student. We strongly recommend not using this setting for any summative assessments as it will show students their marks immediately. You can always manually release the marks by clicking on the “post marks” button once you are ready.

Assessment Results

Next is the section which allows you to customise when students are able to see their submission, view automated question feedback (you can enter this on each question individually), question scores, and correct answers.

When you click on the link below each option, you will be able to turn each of these features off or adjust the timings of each. They each have a drop-down menu attached which will let you choose between:

  • After submission
  • After individual mark has been posted
  • After due date
  • After all marks have been posted
  • On specific date

Do note that “show correct answers” is off by default, so you will need to tick this on to see the options. Turning this on will also lock “show question scores” as on, although you can still customise when question scores are released to students.

Assessment Security

The option in the assessment security is to add an access code to control when students and groups take a test. This will generate a random six-digit code that students will have to enter before they can access the test. This is useful if you have not set up any restrictions on submitting or starting late work, you have the anonymous setting enabled, and you want to provide a single student with an additional attempt.

For this specific use case, you can change the attempts from “1” to “2”, turn on the access code, and only provide the code to the student who you would like to have the additional attempt.

As this code will lock the test, this is best used after the assignment due date has passed so you don’t restrict students who are trying to submit normally. And that is also why you will need to make sure that restrictions for late work are not applied. We realise this can be a bit confusing, so if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a shout through Help4U.

Additional Tools

In the additional tools section, you can add a time limit. This will start from the moment students click “start attempt”. If you set up a timer, you will see a new side panel that lets you enter the time and will also let you decide if you want work to be automatically saved and submitted at the end of this timer or if you want to add additional time. The additional time added is very constrained at the time of recording – you have the options of allowing 50%, 100%, or unlimited extra time.

If you set this up accidentally, you can hover over the time limit link and a bin icon will appear. Clicking on that icon will remove the time limit.

You can use the next link to create and use a marking rubric. We won’t cover the details of this session, but you can read guidance on how to use rubrics below.

Goals are set up as a university, and as we don’t have these set up, we will skip this option.

Below that is the option to turn this into a group assignment. If you click the “assign to groups” link you can use the drop-down menu next to “Group Students” to find any already-created groups, or you can create a new group set from this window. To find out more information about using groups, you can view our session on creating and using groups.

Finally, the last option is to set up a SafeAssign report, this does not work well with tests, so we recommend only using this setting in Assignments. For more information on Safe Assign, view our 101 video on Setting up Blackboard Assignments.

Once you have gone through all of your settings, click save!

4 Additional Attempts and Hiding Marks

Given the variety of test settings, we strongly recommend that you use your Student Preview account to take the test and check any settings to make sure that the test is set up and functioning as you would expect. As you saw, there are many settings and adjustments to one setting can impact another setting.

There are two last things we want to cover in the session now that the test has been set up.

The first is to allow an individual student an additional attempt, as that was something we said you could do for non-anonymous test! To do this, open the test and use the arrow on the top right-hand side to navigate to submissions.

We’ll cover this page in detail in the session on marking and feedback, so for now we’ll just focus on how to give more attempts to a student.

Find the student who will need an additional attempt and click on the three dots at the far-right column for that student. Click on the only option “add or edit exceptions”. In the side panel that appears, you see you can have a few fields you can edit that will only impact this student, including when the item will show or be hidden. Below that is the “Attempts allowed” drop-down menu that you can use to allow additional attempts. There is one field in this panel that you actually cannot edit – the assessment due date. Although this appears as though it would be an option you can adjust, it is currently not anything you can change.

The final thing we want to cover here is how to hide marks. If you accidentally post grades, or use a setting which will immediately release grades, you cannot undo this. You can, however, change the visibility of the item to “hidden from students”. This will hide the submission point, but it will also hide any and all marks and feedback. Once you’re ready to release grades, you can change this back to “visible to students”.



Blackboard guide on using rubrics

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Updated on 09/09/2022

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