For Prospective Faculty

The Facility

The CBTF has two locations in the Engineering Quad. The Grainger Library location has 89 seats and the Digital Computer Laboratory (DCL) location has 35 seats. The systems are Windows computers.

The workstations do not have access to the Internet, any shared storage (like EWS home directories or Box), or any removable storage (flash drives). They do have web-browsers to connect to the exam servers. Scratch paper is provided but is not allowed to leave the room.

The room is secured and live proctored by staff who verify identity and student reservations, assist the students getting access to their exams, and monitor for cheating.

The testing facility supports distraction-reduced environments and extended testing time accommodations.


Courses schedule exams to be available over multiple days. Students select an available timeslot within that date range to take the exam. Testing over a range of dates allows large classes to share the limited seat facility, and student choice of testing time eliminates the need for conflict exams.

Reservations are made through a web-based CBTF scheduler application, PrairieTest. Students self-select their exam times and can delete or change their reservations. All of this happens without instructor or CBTF staff intervention.

The CBTF is open about 80 hours a week, including popular student times like evenings and weekends.

The Exam Servers

Exam servers are the (typically web-based) learning management systems that students visit in the CBTF to deliver and score their exams. PrairieTest is the main exam server used in the CBTF.

The exam server typically does two things ‘special’ for the CBTF:

  • It knows CBTF IP addresses and may present different content to the student when visited from inside the CBTF compared to outside. (Exams only visible in the CBTF, homeworks not visible in the CBTF)
  • It randomizes the exam contents so each student get a personalized exam. This could mean question pools or unique parameters (coefficients, etc.) in the questions.


Because of the automation in the CBTF/PrairieLearn system, instructors are freed from exam logistics and grading time. It is no more effort to run more frequent, smaller exams that reduce student anxiety and better represent student learning. Offering second-chance exams reduces failure rates by allowing struggling students an opportunity to review and demonstrate mastery of concepts that they missed on an exam.


The CBTF grew out of multiple years Strategic Instructional Innovation Program grants and is now funded directly by the Grainger College of Engineering.

Is the CBTF right for your course?

How would you answer the following questions?

  • Is your course meeting in person?
  • Are you using PrairieLearn?
  • Are you comfortable letting the CBTF staff take care of all exam logistics for your course, including DRES time extensions and conflict scheduling?
  • Are you amenable to adapting your exams to CBTF standards such as 50-minute exams, limited allowed exam materials, and asynchronous exam delivery?
  • Are you comfortable locking in your exam schedule at the beginning of the semester?

If you answered “yes”

Answering YES to all these questions is a good sign that the CBTF may be the right fit for you.

To find out more about getting started with the CBTF, contact Jim Sosnowski.

New and current users are welcome to a weekly CBTF/PrairieLearn "Office Hours" where faculty users come together to work on test items in an open-office-hour format. Contact Dave Mussulman (Engineering), Mariana Silva, (Engineering), or Julie Baker (LAS) for more information.

If you answered “no”

Answering NO to one or more of these questions may mean proctoring your own exams is a better option for you. We have a “DIY” service called CBTF Online Best Practices in which we share resources and recommendations for online proctoring based on our experience. You can access all of this, including the workshop recording, in our shared Box folder.