ITS Online»Exams»Prepare Your Laptop

Exams: Prepare Your Laptop

Please read this page thoroughly if you plan to take any exams using a laptop this semester.

IMPORTANT: You will not be able to log into SofTest until you receive your account information in an email from ITS. This information will be sent at least a week prior to the exam period.

Required Laptop Specifications

You must use a laptop that meets or exceeds these specifications. If you need a laptop, you may rent one.

  • Functioning wireless Internet connection for installation, exam download, and exam answer upload.
  • Windows XP (32-bit), Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10, Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion), Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion), Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks), Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite), or Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan).
  • Screen Resolution must be 1024x768 or higher
  • At least: 2GHz CPU, 2 GB RAM, 1 GB free hard disk space
  • Sufficient system stability to run the SofTest program (see FAQ below).

NOTE: Not all Ultrabooks meet the SofTest minimum system requirements.

ExamSoft has officially announced support for both Windows 10 and Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan, so feel free to upgrade your laptops!

Preparing Your Laptop

To prepare your laptop, you will be installing the SofTest program, made by ExamSoft (the company).

  1. Download and install SofTest. The latest version (11) is required! 
    • Navigate to
    • Log in under the Exam Takerssection using:
      • Student ID (LawKey Username)
      • Password (Penn ID — middle 8 digits on your Penn Card)
    • On the following page, click Download to download SofTest.
  2. Open the installation package and proceed through the installation. This will take a few minutes and you need to stay connected to the Internet.
    • Windows users may be prompted to install .NET4 as a prerequisite; please proceed with this (which takes about 30 minutes to complete) and then re-launch the SofTest installation file.
  3. After restarting connect to the internet and register SofTest with the following information.

    • Institution ID: pennlaw
    • Student ID: LawKey Username
    • Password: Penn ID (middle 8 digits on your Penn Card.)
  4. Immediately after registering SofTest you will be notified that there are exams available for download. Please download the necessary exams by selecting it and clicking Download, then clicking Done.

Practice Taking an Exam

Practice the exam-taking procedure a few times to become comfortable with the process and to ensure that SofTest functions properly on your laptop.


See also: Examsoft’s SofTest FAQ.

I already have SofTest on my laptop. Do I need to reinstall?

Yes, you need to install this semester’s version of SofTest.

How can I help ensure that SofTest will properly function on my laptop?

  • Practice taking several exams by following the instructions here for Mac or Windows.
    • Enter “000” as your Exam # and “test” as the Exam Name, Instructor, and Exam Code.
    • Give yourself enough time to seek help from ITS before exams begin.
  • Quit background applications, such as those in your “system tray” or “Dock”, such as: instant messaging, internet radio, and desktop customization programs. Disable these using the preferences of each program, or consider uninstalling them until after exams are done.
    • NOTE: Even if SofTest works with these installed, they will tend to slow SofTest down.
  • Verify that you do not have spyware on your system, by doing a full scan with AntiVirus Software.
  • After you have installed and tested SofTest, do not remove any programs or files, defragment your hard disk, perform a system restore, or otherwise change your system configuration in any significant way until you complete your last computer exam. These tasks may interfere with SofTest’s ability to function normally.

What do I do if I experience a lag when typing my answers?

  • Verify that you followed the steps in the previous question.
  • Disable your firewall and/or antivirus (Remember to re-enable after your exam).
  • Disable background services, such as Skype, DropBox, etc.
  • Clear Windows problem reports. You can find this by searching “View all problem reports” in the Start menu.

For more information on this issue, please visit this ExamSoft FAQ page.

Isn’t this procedure rather complicated and annoying?

Unfortunately, yes. However, we have worked to simplify the procedure as much as possible. If you still feel uncomfortable with laptop exams, you may write using bluebooks.

Will exam questions appear on my laptop screen?

No, they will be given to you on paper.

After running SofTest on Windows my desktop background image has been changed.

This is a known bug with SofTest. Please manually switch it back to your desired image.

Can I use spell-check during the exam?

Students will be permitted to use spell-check if it has been approved by the faculty member.  You will be notified of this before the exam.

I am a student with special needs.

Check with the registrar’s office ASAP to see if you will have special accommodations.

Can I access files on my computer for open-notes exams?

SofTest locks you out of all other programs and files. If your exam is open-notes, bring printed material to the exam.

What happens if my laptop crashes during an exam?

Please take your laptop and exam materials to the Registrar’s Office.  A technician from ITS will be there to troubleshoot issues with SofTest.  If ITS cannot get your laptop to a usable state within 10 minutes, you will need to use another laptop or hand-write the remainder of the exam. Your time limit will be adjusted accordingly.

Can I prepare a backup laptop in case mine fails during exam weeks?

Yes, some students rent a second laptop to use for exams and install SofTest on both. This is fine, but be sure to follow all preparation steps for each laptop.

Will ExamSoft interfere with normal computer operations?

SofTest only puts restrictions on word processing while the program is running. As long as the SofTest program is not running, your computer should function normally.

Latest Tips