The Candidate Experience

About: This article will a give an overview of Surpass from the candidate's perspective.

A candidate can take a test by following these steps:

Step 1: Enter Keycode

In the 'Keycode Entry' screen, the candidate enters their unique eight digit keycode and selects ‘OK’ to start the test. 

Step 2: Confirm personal details

The candidate is then presented with a dialogue box containing their personal identification details. They must confirm their details in order to take the test.

Note: The details displayed here may differ if a customised Test Profile has been applied to the test.

Step 3: Agree to terms

The candidate may be presented with a screen asking to confirm that they adhere to the awarding organisation's code of conduct, depending on whether or not this option has been selected at Test Creation level.

Step 4: Enter a PIN 

  The candidate will then be prompted to enter a PIN if the test is invigilated and a PIN has been set.

Step 5: View the Introduction Page (if one is used)

Next, candidates will be directed to the Introduction Page (if one has been included in the test). Candidates should read the Introduction page prior to starting their test.

Note: The test timer will not start to count-down until the ‘Start Test’ button is selected. The ‘Introduction’ button can be selected once the test has started. However, the test timer will continue to count down.

Step 6: Answer questions

Once the candidate has selected the 'Start Test' button they will be presented with a screen which allows them to answer each question and navigate their way through the test. The 'Next' and 'Back' buttons can be used to navigate between questions. The candidate can also click directly on a question button to jump to that question.

Note: The look, feel and layout of the screen may differ depending on the navigation settings. However, the functionality available is identical irrespective of the layout.

The 'Flag' button can be used to highlight questions which the candidate wants to revisit, before submitting their test. To flag a question a candidate should select the question and then select the 'Flag' button.

Depending on the settings configured in 'Test Creation', candidates may be able to see a progress bar at the top of the screen. The progress bar will indicate, visually, how far the candidate has progressed through the test. The progress bar will increase according to how many question items a candidate has answered or according to how many marks those questions they have answered are worth.

Depending on the 'Test Profile' applied during 'Test Creation', the delivery window for the test can be docked either to left, centre or right of the screen. This is particularly useful if a candidate needs to work on a question and view a pop up simultaneously.

This must be configured in a Test Profile which must be applied during test creation.


Candidates can access the 'Preferences' button  in the bottom-left of the screen to change the colour settings of their test. The 'Preferences' button is available on every screen, so the options can be changed at any point during the test. The different options are designed to improve accessibility for candidates with a visual impairment e.g. colour blindness. Each option text is shown in the style which it represents. Candidates should select the option in the list which they find easiest to read.

Highlighting Tool

The candidate has the option to highlight passages of text by simply using the left mouse button, dragging over the relevant text and selecting the highlighting tool that appears. The text will then remain highlighted, unless the candidate chooses to remove it by left clicking on the highlighted text.

The candidate may also strike out item response options in multiple choice and multiple response questions. This can be achieved by right-clicking the desired response option, and can be used as a visual tool to help candidates eliminate certain responses.

Candidate breaks

If they have been applied during Test Creation, the candidate could be entitled to breaks during their test. A candidate break will pause the test timer and the candidate will not be able to see or interact with the test questions until they resume the test, or the break time has elapsed. Breaks can either be scheduled or unscheduled. A scheduled break occurs at the end of a section, whereas unscheduled breaks allow candidates to choose when to take breaks during their test. To learn more about setting up candidate breaks, take a look at the Candidate Breaks Overview article.

Item Comments

If item comments have been set up in Test Creation, the candidate will be able to add a comment on an item. This is useful for pretesting and review purposes. To learn more about item comments, take a look at the article on How to Enable Candidate Comments.

Navigating between Sections

If a Test has been created with timed sections, once a candidate has moved on from a timed section they are unable to return. When a candidate has finished their current section and would like to move on to the next section, they can select the ‘Finish’ button in the top-right corner of the screen. This allows the candidate to move on to the next section.

Step 7: Submit test

When the candidate has finished the test, they should select the 'Finish' button in the top-right corner of the screen. The system will display a request asking the candidate to confirm that they wish to finish the test. They will also receive a warning if there are any items that have not been attempted, but that have been flagged.

Depending on how the test has been set up, the candidate may get immediate feedback on their result. Immediate feedback is available only if the test has been set to give feedback (such as score and pass/fail). Tests containing human-marked questions will not have instant feedback.

For information on the candidate experience when a test is delivered on a tablet, view the article SurpassDelivery Application: The Candidate Experience.

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