Laptop Exams: FAQ

Academics at Iowa Law

Review exam information early to reduce the stress of the weeks leading up to finals.

Which operating systems is SofTest compatible with?

For a complete list of minimum system requirements, visit ExamSoft's website.

What should I do before exam day?
Check out the checklist that the I.T. staff has created to assist you. You can find the Windows installation instructions here and the Mac installation instructions here.

What should I know before taking a Law exam?
The Law Administration and I.T. departments have collaborated to create a "Top 10* Important Exam Information" list that is available online here.

Will my laptop work with the software?
If your laptop meets the minimum system requirements you should have no problems using the exam software. However, your laptop should be in good working order. Your laptop should NOT have any of the following:

  • A short or other issue with the power supply or battery that causes it to randomly shut down
  • Inability to run on battery power. Your laptop should be able to run at least 10 minutes on battery power.
  • Viruses, Trojans or other software that interfere with running the exam software.
  • LCD Screens with cracks, flickers, or other flaws that make reading your answers on screen difficult.

What if I need assistance with the exam software?
You can find the Student Computing staff in room 130 of the Law Library. Also, an installation guide is available here.

Exam Day Instructions
On exam day each student using a laptop to take the final exam will receive this handout. It contains information on computer setup, launching SofTest, formatting your exam and more.

I use a Macintosh computer. Can I participate?
Yes. Beginning in Fall 2010, ExamSoft has a SofTest Mac Client that can be installed under Mac OS X 10.6 or newer.

What do I need to do before downloading the software?
You must first visit the ISBA Bookstore in room 218 and purchase a license for the software. The Bookstore closes at 2:00 p.m. The cost of the software license is $25.00. The new licensing period begins September 1st each year and expires the following August 31st.

I have purchased my license from the Bookstore. Now what do I need to do?
Check your email for the receipt sent to you by LawMailHelp. Login to the Exam Takers section of the Law School's ExamSoft site with the username and password provided in that email. Once logged in, you can download and install the software on your laptop.

I would like to change my ExamSoft Site password to something easy to remember. How do I do that?
Login to the Law School's ExamSoft site, click on the "Change Account Information" link, enter your desired password in the "New Password" field, then confirm it and click the Submit Change button.

I don't know what my four-digit exam number is. How can I find it?
You can look up exam numbers online here. Login with your Hawk ID and Hawk ID password.

After using the software my sound doesn't work. How do I fix it?
SofTest turns down the Wave setting so that if/when your laptop reboots during the exam the startup sounds don't bother the other exam takers. Open your Audio settings in the Control panel and move the Wave volume to the top to restore it to normal.

After taking an exam my wireless doesn't seem to be working.
During an exam the software disables your wireless connection. It should come back shortly after exiting the exam software. If after five minutes your connection does not return, please visit Student Computing in room 130 of the Law Library.

I'm having trouble uploading my exam. It "locks" in the middle or I received an error.
Some third party Firewall and Anti-SpyWare programs can block the upload utility from working correctly. Known culprits are SpySweeper, Zone Alarm and MacAfee Security Center. In some cases you can simply close the software and try the upload again. If the upload doesn't work after closing the software, please see the Student Computing Staff in room 130 of the Library. Please see the Laptop Recommendations page for more information.

When do I need to finish all the steps?
The deadline to purchase the exam software is two weeks before exams begin. If you miss this deadline you may still purchase the software but you will pay a late fee of $25. This means in the final two weeks before exam begin the exam software cost will be $50.

Which courses are offering laptop exams?
A current list of courses offering the Laptop Exam option is available here.

How reliable is the exam software?
SofTest has a considerable number of safety features to ensure that answers typed into SofTest cannot be lost. They include:

  • An AutoSave feature that automatically saves your exam every sixty seconds.
  • Multiple encrypted backup copies of the exam answer file that are saved.
  • The ability to undo up to 50 of the previous actions per essay question window.

What if my laptop "crashes" during the exam?
If your keyboard and/or mouse stops responding you will first attempt a reboot. If the reboot is successful you will be returned to within 59 seconds of where you were before the "crash" and you can continue with your exam. If a reboot does not fix the problem you will immediately notify the proctor who will provide you with Blue Book(s) to finish your exam. The proctor will also notify the I.T. staff and they will attempt to recover your typed answers and bring them back to you in hard copy format to assist you with completing your exam. Extra time is not given for computer malfunctions.

Where will my exam be held?
For all exams, laptop users and writers will be in the same room for the exam. Due to space limitations, some exams may be split between multiple rooms. For more information please check the exam schedule posted on the bulletin board outside the Dean's Suite.

I participated in laptop exams in previous semesters. Do I still need to purchase and download the software?
You must purchase the latest version of the exam software every Fall. The software license follows that academic year, meaning it is valid for one Fall, one Spring and one Summer semester only. You will need to purchase it again each academic year. Please see the Student Computing staff if you have any questions.

How will exams be collected at the end of the exam period?
Students will submit their laptop exams via the Internet through an upload process. Instructions will be available in the exam room. Please note that you must complete this step within two hours of the completion of your exam, including Saturdays.

Do I need the University Wireless on my laptop for the laptop exam?
No. You will submit your laptop exams via the Internet but you can do this via any wired or wireless connection.  

Do I need to own a laptop in order to participate?
Students can provide their own laptop, or arrange to borrow a laptop from a friend, family member, colleague, etc. Be aware that you are also responsible for keeping your laptop or the borrowed laptop up to date on anti-virus software, Windows Critical Updates, and anti-spyware.

I've changed my mind; I'd rather take my exam in a blue book. Do I need to do anything or let anyone know?
Yes. Please email either Deb Paul (Registrar) or Apryl Betts so we can ensure that there are enough Blue Books in the exam room on exam day.

What if I normally have an accommodation for exams (Extra time, ESL, etc.)?
Please arrange a time to discuss this with Carin Crain, Dean of Students.

Can I open the software before the exam?
Yes, you can open the software as many times as you like. We encourage you to become familiar with the software and run it for an extended period of time (30+ minutes) to ensure there are no issues running the software on your laptop.

How should I test the software before exam day?
Before finals start you must take and upload a copy of the "Mock Exam". The Mock Exam must be taken after you register SofTest and you will be prompted to upload it after you close the exam.

When I try to open my exam it asks for a password.
All of the exam answer templates are password protected. The proctor will give you the password at the beginning of the exam. If you would like to practice with the exam software before your exam, please use the built in Mock exam.

I notice that there is a Spell Check option. Will I be able to use it during the exam?
Yes. Starting in the Spring 2013 semester the Spell Check option will be enabled.

What will I need on exam day?
Your laptop and your laptop power supply. Students will NOT be allowed to take their exams using laptops on battery power.

Can I look at my exam answers after the test?
The exam is saved in an encrypted format for security reasons. Students will not be able to view their answers after the test.

What do I need to do after the exam is finished?
You must submit your exam online via the Internet. There is an upload tool built into the software that you will use for your mock exam; the process to upload your final exam is the same. While you have two hours following the exam to upload your answer file, we strongly recommend you upload your exam immediately after you have finished it.

Do I need to be at the Law School to submit my exam?
No. You can submit your exam from anywhere with Internet access.

I'm leaving town right after exams. Is there anything I should do before I leave?
You must submit your exam file within two hours of completing your exam. Also, in rare instances, the exam file may become corrupted and we may need you to submit your exam again. We will contact you via email and/or phone if this is necessary. If you have borrowed a laptop computer, you should be able to access that laptop for two weeks following exams in case of a corrupt file.

What if I don't want to do this?
Participation is optional. You may still use the traditional blue book method if that is your preference.


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