3/23/17: Best Practices for CBT sent to Operational ELA Schools

Best Practices for Successful Computer-Based Testing Administration

  • Ensure Students Have an Optimal Testing Environment: As with paper testing, you should provide a well-lit, well-ventilated, and quiet testing room. You can find more details about preparing your exam room and testing environment in the School Administrator’s Manual and Teacher’s Directions (links to manuals below).
  • Proctors Should Have Print Copies of Teacher’s Directions for CBT: Proctors should have print copies of Teacher’s Directions on hand at the testing location and be familiar prior to testing with the testing directions for CBT. The Teacher’s Directions for CBT were mailed to schools and are also available from the Office of State Assessment website. You can you can find on the CBT Support website, the Testing Materials that Should be Available at the Student-Testing Location article.
  • Provide Scratch Paper to Students: All students may be provided with scratch paper during CBT exams. The scratch paper will not be graded and will be collected at the end of testing for destruction purposes. For guidelines on scratch paper for operational CBT ELA exams, consult the Teacher’s Directions.
  • Download, Install, and Test the Questar Secure Browser on all Student Testing Devices: Test Coordinators have access to Nextera Admin where the Nextera Secure Browser can be downloaded and installed on student testing devices. All installations of the Nextera Secure Browser should be tested prior to Monday for operational CBT ELA exams. 
  • Be Familiar with the Process Students Will Take to Start the Test: Be aware if students must first log into the testing computer before accessing the Nextera Secure Browser. Be ready to assist students with logging into their test sessions with their NYSSIS ID and passwords. Passwords are not case sensitive and can be unmasked on the student login screen to assist with access. Make sure all students know the test Session Access Code for the day’s test session. (See diagram below for student test session access process flow.)
  • Staggering Student Testing Start Times: During the January CBT Roadshows, we shared the best practice of staggering student-testing start times within a large group of students so that not all students within a large group are downloading the test at the very same moment. We recommend staggering groups of 25-30 students to download the test (Select the Test Session) every 2-3 minutes. This will allow for seamless and complete test download that works well with most standard school internet/network speeds.
  • Proctor PINs: Develop a communication plan for managing any changes to the Proctor PIN, which allows access for students to any paused tests, such as a test that is paused for a student bathroom break. You can find more information on CBT Support about the Proctor PIN.
  • Contact Customer Support: For operational CBT, we have established a multi-level support structure where Questar, NYSED, and the district’s Regional Information Center (RIC) are ready to support your schools with any CBT issues. Additionally, Questar has technical support personnel situated in four different RIC locations throughout the state to be on-call if any technical issues arise during testing that need on-site investigation. Customer Support contact information is below. 
  • Paper Tests Are Available at Regional Centers: If there is any need for paper test copies, as with paper operational tests, additional copies are available at the Regional Centers. Schools will obtain print answer sheets, if needed, from their Regional Information Center (RIC). On the Office of State Assessment website, the complete list of Regional Centers is available. 



Customer Support Contact Information:

Questar Customer Support

Phone: 866-997-0695

Questar Customer Support Email

NYSED CBT Customer Support:

CBT Support Email

Support Website


Additional Helpful Links:

The Office of State Assessment

CBT Support Site for Grades 3-8 ELA and Math

CBT Video Tutorial Library

CBT Training Documentation and Resources

Online Question Sampler with Practice Tests

Nextera Admin

All Testing Manuals are available from the Office of State Assessment Website


The School Administrator's Manual (SAM) that provides test administration guidance is available in two volumes, where volume 2 provides specific CBT Guidance:

SAM, Volume 1

SAM, Volume 2

Teacher's Directions for Grades 3, 4, 5

Teacher’s Directions for Grades 6, 7, 8

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