Sakai Tips: A One Question Timed Exam in Test Center

Update: Talking to Vivie, she suggested an excellent improvement to this approach that I missed (doh). Instead of uploading the file and making a link in the text, simply add the Word file as an attachment to the question right below the question text. Much easier and an even cleaner user interface – thanks Vivie for the tip! I have updated the instructions below and will redo the video at some point.

This blog post talks about how to make a one question exam in Test Center (a.k.a Mneme). The basic idea is that you want to give an exam and give students flexibility in starting times but only give each student a fixed amount of time to complete the exam. Individual timers as it were.

I use this a lot for on-line finals where students have complex (often international) travel schedules so I open an exam for 48-72 hours and they can pick any 3 hour window. In addition, the exam is in a Word document so they do not have to be connected while they take the exam – they simply edit the exam on their computer and reconnect to upload their answer when they have finished editing. I like having a really low requirement for connectivity for something like an exam. If something goes wrong the students still have a copy of their exam.

Here is a video of me creating an exam using CTools (Sakai@UMich):

Here are the rough steps in the process:

Create an assessment

Add a single essay question – with the question text below

Upload your word document containing the Exam text as an attachment to the question. The attachment button is right below the question text.

Then save the question and back in the assessment screen set the points for the question and save the assessment.

Then switch to ‘Test Drive’ and begin the test. Once you get into the test, you should be able to download the Exam document. At this point you can log out of CTools (or press ‘Finish Later’) and edit the exam document on your computer.

Once you finish the exam on your computer, log back into Sakai and go back into Test Center and press ‘Continue’ to go back into the test. You then upload your edited exam to Test Center and press ‘Finish’.

Once you like the test, you can publish it. Make sure not to publish it until you test it because publishing locks the test for future editing.

Then you go into ‘Publish’ and set the open, close, and late dates, set the time limit for the test (i.e. 3:00), set the number of tries on 1, set the honor code, and anything else you like and then press ‘Publish’. Make sure the number of tries is set to 1. As an example, if you set the tries to two it will let the students have two three-hour test attempts.

If a student makes a mistake and presses ‘Finish’ before they upload their answers, simply use the ‘Special Access’ feature of Test Center to give them one more try.

At the designated time – the test opens up and students can start taking the test.

I am curious if you find this useful. Here is some text I use for the test.

Question Text

This entire test is in a file which you edit. You are to download the test and insert your answers to the questions in the document and then save and upload the document. This file should open in any word processor. When you upload the file you can upload a Word Document, or PDF (preferred).

You have now entered the test and so the timer for you to take this test has *started*. You should download the test and begin working so you can finish and re-upload your answers within the time limit for the test.

The file may open in your browser – in this case you use Save As. Or the file may download to your computer – in this case you go and find the file on your computer.

If you have technical difficulties – send a note to – in a pinch send a text message to +1 517-xxx-yyyy – please include a callback number in your text message.

Once you have downloaded the file, you can leave this screen by pressing “Continue Later” and then come back *within 3 the time limit* and upload your answers.

When you have finished the exam – come back and upload your modified document as an attachment to this question below. Press ‘FInish’ only after you have uploaded your answers.