Author Archives: Carla Hernandez

2017 Examsoft Assessment Conference

The Office of Assessment is proud to announce that we have been invited to deliver a 1-hour presentation titled, “Identifying Interprofessional Education Opportunities (IPE) Using ExamSoft Categories that Bridge Goals and Outcomes of Healthcare Programs” at the 2017 Examsoft Assessment Conference (EAC) in Denver, Colorado this June. For more information about the EAC sessions, please visit their site here. The College of Pharmacy and Health Science’s Assessment Team looks forward to connecting with colleagues from other universities nation-wide to discuss how their assessment efforts drive change at their institutions.

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Students & Softest: “How do I prepare for exam day?”

Whether students are sitting for their first exam via SofTest or they’ve been using it for multiple semesters, understanding exam day protocol is key to having a smooth exam (and not adding to those exam day jitters). SofTest is an Examsoft application used by the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences to administer computer-based assessments. To promote consistency across students of all programs, the Office of Assessment has outlined the College’s Softest exam-day process:

What should you do prior to exam day? Ask yourself the following questions:

“Is my laptop in good shape?” As a student, it is up to you to ensure your laptop is in proper working order and meets SofTest minimum system requirements- click here for specifics. If your laptop is having technical problems prior to using SofTest, it may not be fit for exam day use. Alert your professor immediately if this is the case. They may be able to request a loaner laptop on your behalf with sufficient notice.

“Are there any pesky computer updates I should take care of before the exam?” Ensure that all necessary updates are installed on your laptop before exam day, so that there’s no delaying the start of your exam.

“Is my exam available for download before exam day?” Professors tend to make exam files available for download sometime before exam day, so students are advised to download it at home the night before exam day. Remember that internet connectivity is required to download the exam file! Click here to learn more about downloading an exam file.

What should you do on exam day?

  1. Starting with the most obvious, bring your laptop & laptop charger on exam day. We recommend your machine be fully charged, just in case there is a temporary power outage.
  2. Anti-virus applications may effect SofTest performance during exams. When taking a secure exam, disable antivirus software(s) before taking an exam & re-enable it after exiting your exam.
  3. Put away cell phones, smart watches, notes, etc. Follow any other security protocols announced by your professor. During an exam, cell phones and any other forms of wearable technology left ‘on your person’ will not be tolerated (this includes your pocket, your shoes, etc.) – place them away from your desk.
  4. Open SofTest, click ‘Take an Exam’ and select today’s exam. Await instruction from the proctor to enter the Assessment Password and start the exam once you get permission. Good luck!
  5. Once you finish your exam and exit Softest, you must show evidence of the green ‘Congratulations’ screen to a proctor before leaving the exam room. This is a crucial step.

As an exam taker, is there anything else I should know?

  • Once in a blue moon during an exam, your SofTest may freeze or experience a technical issue. First step: remain calm. If your computer is unresponsive for more than two minutes, please alert your professor by raising your hand using two fingers. Most computer freezes usually just require a hard reset (hold power button down until laptop shuts off and then turn it back on). SofTest will automatically open up & you’ll continue right where you left off. No need to worry about losing your answers because SofTest saves them every 60 seconds. If you have any concerns about the issue you experienced mid-exam, contact Examsoft Tech Support after your exam to have the SofTest issue further investigated.
  • Your answer file has not been received by your professor unless you both see the green ‘congratulations’ screen. If your laptop has trouble reaching it, first check your internet connectivity. Many times your laptop has not yet reconnected to wi-fi and you simply need to try uploading your answer file again once it connects.
  • Lastly, it is best to contact Examsoft’s Tech Support if you ever have any issues using SofTest. Their team is best suited to troubleshoot the issue and provide you with a solution quickly. They can be reached at 1-866-429-8889.

Providing our students with the resources to feel confident taking computer-based exams is a top priority. Stay tuned for the Office of Assessment’s End-of-Semester Examsoft /SofTest Survey and provide the College with your feedback and suggestions.

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Examsoft User Development Initiative

As Examsoft use has continued to expand each semester at the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, the Office of Assessment launched the Examsoft User Development Initiative (ESUDI) during the Summer of 2016 based upon a recommendation from Dean Digate. The goal of the ESUDI is to provide hands-on faculty training workshops, as well as, other resources to ensure all users (new and returning) within the College are confident in Examsoft use. We aim to provide basic tutorials on how to use the Examsoft Portal and in-depth discussions with faculty (of all disciplines) on how they can utilize the reporting features to better track student learning outcomes and further engage their students throughout the semester.

The first ESUDI session was held June 28th, 2016. The session was well received and the Office of Assessment followed this up with a second summer session on August 18th, 2016. We will continue offering monthly workshops discussing different topics during the Fall 2016 semester available to all Examsoft Faculty users in the College. Future topics to be discussed will include Examsoft’s Reporting Tools; SofTest: The Student’s Perspective; Strategies for Team Taught Courses; Tracking Student Performance & Learning Outcomes via Categories; and many more workshop tailored to faculty’s needs here at the College.

The Office of Assessment will also be utilizing Blackboard tools to provide faculty with other interactive resources. Further communication will be provided once ready for faculty use.

Examsoft faculty users can expect their invitations to the Fall 2016 workshops shortly with specific time/location information. We hope to see you all there!

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Fall 2016 PA Assessment Workshop

The Office of Assessment (OA) presented its Assessment Workshop at the Physician Assistant’s Didactic Orientation on August 30th, 2016 where Dr. S. William Zito, Dean of Assessment, discussed the importance of Assessment at the College. The OA administered a Pre-Assessment Workshop survey to the incoming didactic students one week prior to the Assessment Workshop (receiving a 64% response rate) and its results were then shared with students.  Following the Assessment Workshop, a Post-Assessment Workshop Survey was sent out. After being open 5 days, the survey closed with a 35% response rate.  In summary, results of both surveys show that after the Assessment Workshop:

  • Students’ awareness of the assessment process in the College more than doubled from 41% to 92%
  • A higher percentage of students are willing to participate in assessment
  • 88% of students now know what the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences (CPHS) assessment plan is (compared to 28% in the Pre-Workshop Survey)
  • Almost 100% of respondents now know that the CPHS has an Assessment Office and a separate Assessment Committee
  • 92% of respondents agree that students are involved in improving the culture of assessment, compared to 54% in the Pre-Workshop survey

The Office of Assessment will continue promoting the Culture of Assessment by continuing to participate in future student orientations and in any other opportunities to share the importance of Assessment.

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UPDATE: SofTest Version 12 Rollback

Although all of us in the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences looked forward to utilizing the new features of SofTest Version 12, the Office of Assessment was notified by Examsoft that all clients must temporarily rollback from SofTest Version 12 (v12) to SofTest Version 11 (v11) while continued improvements are made to the v12 platform. All faculty and student Examsoft users must use SofTest v11 until otherwise instructed to update. The College has been using SofTest v11 since rolling out Examsoft in early 2015, so there will be little to no impact on the student experience this Fall 2016 semester.

If needed, please click here for the links to reinstall SofTest v11 and to access Examsoft’s FAQ section regarding their decision to rollback. Examsoft’s Tech Support can also assist with the installation process at 1-888-792-3926.

If faculty have any questions on Softest v11 use, please reach out to us at the Office of Assessment. We expect an update from Examsoft on SofTest v12’s re-release in the near future and look forward to utilizing this newest version once it is ready.

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Fall 2016: SofTest Version 12

Examsoft announced its first official, non-beta release of SofTest Version 12 (v12) this past month. All St. John’s University College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences Examsoft student users can expect to use this new version during the fall 2016 semester. SofTest v12 will be available for installation August 8th. As a student, if you are unsure whether your course will be utilizing Softest, please contact your instructor for confirmation. Resources on SofTest v12 use are now available at the Examsoft University site (click here to view). The minimum system requirements to use Softest v12 are listed here.

SofTest v12 contains a variety of improvements. Its interface has been updated with a simpler, more modern layout. Windows and Mac machines’ have a more consistent layout and each includes improved word-processor options for essay questions.  Based on student feedback, Examsoft is offering more features during exam administrations and exam reviews. Exam reviews will now allow exam takers to review their notes (written during the exam) at the time of the review. Exam Takers can also view which text was highlighted and which questions they flagged (during the exam’s administration) at the time of the review. The ability to cross out answer choices, highlight in different colors, and view Quick References Guides directly from the SofTest application is another improvement. Other features in SofTest v12, such as zooming in/out on a question stem, suspending an exam, or use of a download password will be released by the end of 2016.

Exam Takers within the St. John’s University College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences will receive communication from the Office of Assessment’s Ms. Carla Hernandez in early August with instructions on how to install SofTest v12 and other pertinent information for its use in the upcoming fall semester. SofTest version 11 will no longer be supported as of September 8th, 2016 and exam takers will be expected to uninstall the application from their machines.

Following the release of SofTest v12, Examsoft also anticipates an update to the Examsoft Online Portal in 2017. Faculty and administrators will be alerted once more information is available.


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Examsoft: Strength & Opportunity Reports

Compared to traditional paper testing, Examsoft offers an engaging resource for faculty to share assessment information with students following exams. Feedback received from students via the Examsoft Experience Survey (disseminated by the Office of Assessment) after the Fall 2015 semester demonstrated that 78% of respondents from the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences were interested in receiving more individualized reports on their performance. Use of the Strength & Opportunity Report can impact student learning as it provides exam takers with a visual aid to identify areas of strength and areas of concern following an assessment.  Reviewing the Strength & Opportunity Report can help a student prioritize studying as they can gauge their performance broken down by category.                EXAMSOFT_S+O_Report

Faculty in the College has the option to share the Strength & Opportunity Report with every student in the course by posting it directly to their Examsoft Portals after each assessment. Others have also used it during one-on-one student meetings to offer other strategies for improvement. Resources, such as the Strength & Opportunity Report, are encouraged as it enhances student engagement and can help meet the ultimate goal of improving student performance.

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