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FAQs for Staff using Top Hat for online time limited assessments (OTLA) - Staff Guide

General Guidance

Schools are encouraged to conduct a practice test before any summative testing so that students know what to expect and are familiar with the test environment. This will also ensure students have a Top Hat account set up ahead of any high-stake tests.

Q1: Some of my students have Assessment Access Arrangements, can I accommodate them?

Yes, however this should be organised before the day of the assessment.

When you are assigning the test to your students, check the Set time limit & accommodations box.

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Once this is selected you will be able to set a time limit for how long the assessment will be available to students. Make sure you define the standard time limit (in minutes) - this is what your students without Assessment Access Arrangements will get.

To the right of this, there is an Add Accommodation(s) button. Select this and a pop-up window will appear. Then search for the student(s) you want to give extra time to. Under the Time Accommodation column click the drop-down menu and select Give Additional Time. A box will then appear to the right allowing you to enter the number of additional minutes you would like to assign to that student.

N.B. The test needs to be assigned and available from and until every one of your students' time has lapsed

For example, your assessment time limit is 60 minutes and starts at 9am, one student is given 30 minutes extra at the end, another 40 minutes. Set your time limit for 60 minutes, add accommodation(s) for the students who get the extra time and then ensure your Available from time is 9am and your until time is 10:40am (60 + 40 = 1 hour 40 minutes).

Q2: How do my students find/start a test?

Once logged into Top Hat, students need to go to the Assigned tab to see the test.

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Students select the test from the left hand content tree and then click Start Test to begin. If your test sits within a folder (which it should, as this is the ideal way to structure a test), we would recommend you give clear instructions to students on the name of the folder to click to locate the test.

Once they have started the test, students will see an index of all the questions in the test along the left of the screen.

Students can scroll through the test and answer questions, or jump to specific questions by selecting them in the index on the left. A progress wheel at the top of the test page shows students how many questions they have answered out of the total number of questions.

Screenshot of the Top Hat platform

Q3: My student can’t see the test, what reason could there be for this?

Tests will disappear from a student's view under the following conditions:

  • The student clicks Hand In at the bottom or upper-right corner of their test window.
    If there are any unsaved responses on the test, the student will be notified before completing the hand-in.

Screenshot of Top Hat platform

  • The test timer runs out.
    Students will be notified that they have run out of time and that their saved responses have been submitted.

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  • The professor or other member of staff has ended the test manually.
    Students will be notified that they have run out of time and that their saved responses have been submitted.

Q4: What if the student’s internet connection is interrupted during the test?

Top Hat loads the entire assessment when a student first accesses the test, instead of loading one question at a time. As a result, intermittent losses in signal/WiFi will not stop them from reading the questions or entering their answers. The student FAQ's advise them that if they lose internet connection during the assessment, they should not leave or refresh the page if they have unsaved answers, they should wait until their internet connection is restored and answers are auto-saved.

Q5: Is there a timer?

If a test has been set up with a time limit, students can show/hide the countdown timer in the upper-right corner of the test window. Students will be able to leave the test environment to access any additional web pages, tools or programs they may need. If a timer has been applied, it will continue to count down if a student navigates away from the test (or exits Top Hat entirely).

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Q6. Are there timers on questions?


Q7: I’ve set my questions up so that they are auto-graded, when will students see their marks?

Schools should not release assessed test/assessment marks through Top Hat. Grades/marks must be approved at the Assessment Boards and sent to A&P. A&P then release the final marks. Schools can release semester marks as provisional but it must be clear that the marks are subject to approval.

To ensure grades/marks are not automatically released to students after the Test closes, click on the Course Settings button.

You will then see the Account and Course Settings page. Choose the course you want to adjust the settings for from the left-hand pane. Click on the Grading tab and uncheck: Enable gradebook for students. Click Save to ensure this option is applied to your course. This will ensure that the grades are not visible to students after the test closes:

Q8: What does ‘test details are hidden for this course mean’?

This feature is enabled to ensure that test material is not shared beyond the test. If you have questions around the policy of sharing test material for review please contact the assessment team for your school.

Q9: What happens if the test ends before the student saves their answer and hands-in the test?

Students that have not yet submitted their test will see a pop-up message like this:

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All the answers that the student have entered will be submitted.

Further Help and Support

You can access help and support from within Top Hat once you are logged in:

  • Live chat by clicking on the speech bubble icon next to your name, this is available between 2pm to 8pm GMT on weekdays.
  • Raise a support ticket by clicking on the question mark icon.

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Support is also available via the Leeds IT website. Please remember to log in as this will give you additional support options.