Due Dates, Durations, and Availability

Blackboard assessments have three time factors -- due date, duration, and availability. The interactions between these often causes confusion for faculty.


The window of time during which the link to the assessment is visible (and clickable) to students inside the course site. Students cannot launch an assessment before or after the availability window, as the link either is not visible, or is locked (an option in ultra-style courses).

Once an assessment is launched the duration clock starts.

Duration (Time Limit)

The amount of time a student has to finish the assessment, once it has been started. Tests may be set to auto-submit when time expires, or simply be marked late.

Due Date

The date and time (EST) an item is due. If an item is submitted after the due date, it is marked late. Ultra-style courses have a "prohibit late submissions" button that automatically submits in-progress assessments when the deadline is reached. Ultra style courses also have a checkbox to prevent students from beginning an assessment after the due date (and time) has passed. In classic-style courses, items submitted after the due date are simply marked late.

Though many students will find seeing the late flag on a submission stressful, it does not automatically impact their score. It is up to the instructor to determine and apply appropriate consequences for a late submission. Consequences should be made clear either in the assessment instructions or in the syllabus.

How They Interact

Each of the above controls a different piece of the overall time a student has to launch, complete, and submit an assessment. Depending on how you apply these restrictions and how clear you are in communicating them to your students, you may create a situation where it is easy for a student to unintentionally turn their assessment in late. 

Let's look at some different set-ups for an exam. We want the students to have an hour to take the exam, and we'd like it turned in by about 11 AM on 5/15.


Example 1 - Availability Window Equal to Time Limit

Availability: 10AM - 11AM Monday 5/16; Time Limit: 50 minutes; Due Date: 11:00AM 5/16, no auto-submit.

This exam can be launched between 10 and 11 am on a single day. When the exam is launched, the 50-minute timer begins. This means a student can begin their 50-minute test window at 10:59. When they submit their exam (at 11:49), it will be marked late, because will have been turned in after the 11:00AM deadline.

However, if a student is kicked off their exam for whatever reason during that 10AM - 11AM window, they will be able to continue from where they left off by re-opening the exam (provided the classic-style setting "Force Completion" has not been turned on).

Example 2 - Restricted Availability Window

Availability: 10AM - 10:15AM Monday 5/16; Time Limit: 50 minutes; Due Date: 11:05AM 5/16, no auto-submit.

This set up is intended to force students to take the exam as synchronously as possible (note, LockDown Browser + Monitor with Live Proctor enabled lets you enforce synchronous online testing). We do this by setting the exam so it has a 15-minute launch window. After the 15 minutes expires, the test link will no longer be accessible to students in the course. Once the test is launched, students will have their 50 minutes to complete the exam. By setting the deadline to 5 after 11, we allow students who started the exam at 10:15 their full 50 minutes of exam time without being marked late. 

However, if a student is kicked off their exam after 11:15, an availability exception will be necessary for them to be able to get back into the exam.

Example 3 - Extended Availability Window

Availability: 10AM Sunday 5/15 - 10AM Monday 5/16; Time Limit: 50 minutes; Due Date: 11:00AM 5/16, no auto-submit

This test has a more permissive availability window, which is common with lower stakes assessments or in asynchronous classes. Here, we give the students a full 24-hours to launch their exam. Once started, each gets only 50 minutes of test time. By setting the availability window to close an hour before the due date, we ensure students will have their full testing time completed before the exam is due.

However (again), if a student begins their exam right at 10AM and has an issue that results in their getting kicked off, they will need an availability exception to pick up where they left off.

Factoring Accommodations

Appropriate accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis and all questions or concerns should be directed to Disability Support Services. That said, when planning an exam, we strongly encourage you to set a time limit. Do not rely on the availability window as your time-limiting factor. This will help DSS determine an appropriate accommodation for students in need, and also work best with the accommodation tools available in both styles of Blackboard course site. 


As with most potential issues with instructional technology, clear and simple instructions are your greatest ally. To that end, we recommend that your instructions to students should indicate:

  • When the assessment will be available to start ("The final exam will be available to start from 10AM 5/15 - 10 AM 5/16")
  • How long students will have to complete the assessment ("Once started, you will have 1 hour to complete the exam")
  • When the assessment is due ("You must submit your exam by 11AM 5/16 or it will be marked late")
  • Include a note that a late start does not extend the due date ("Students who begin the exam at 10:45 will have 15 minutes to complete the exam before it is marked late").
  • If the exam does not automatically submit when the Time Limit or Deadline expires, indicate the consequences for a late submission. Sample consequences include a flat number of points docked at intervals (2-5 minutes overdue, 5 minutes overdue, 5-10 minutes overdue, more than 10 minutes overdue)