online ise exam instructions

The essay portion of the ISE Exam will be given on Blackboard, and the oral portion of the exam will be given using Zoom. Please note: the oral portion of the exam is often given on the day after the essay portion of the exam, or in the case where the essay portion of the exam is on Friday, the oral portion may be given on the following Monday.

After you register for the ISE Exam, please follow the instructions below:

Preparations for the essay portion of the ISE Exam before the time of the exam:

  1. Be sure to have your USC network ID set up to access Blackboard via myUSC and make sure you are able to sign in with the USC SSO for Zoom.
  2. You will need to have Windows 10 (not 10S) or later for a PC, or macOS 10.12 to 11.1+ for a Mac in order to run LockDown Browser.
  3. Download and install LockDown Browser from this link:
  4. Be sure to have a working webcam (built-in or directly attached in front of you) for the exam.
  5. There is a “Practice Exam” link on the Blackboard site. This is for you to take a short practice exam to make sure you have access through LockDown Browser and that everything is working for you. You are strongly advised to try this ahead of time using the actual instructions below.

Instructions for the essay portion of the ISE Exam at the time of the exam:

  1. Open the LockDown Browser (which should automatically take you to USC’s Blackboard homepage).
  2. Login to Blackboard (You will be asked to enter your USC net ID and password).
  3. Select the ALI ISE Exam 15 minutes before the start time. (You may access the practice exam anytime before the actual exam).
  4. Click on the ISE Essay Exam (or the Practice Exam) . Take time to read the instructions.
  5. Click “Begin” to start the test.
  6. DO NOT CLICK ON “LAUNCH MEETING”. Instead, click on “Join from Your Browser” then follow the instructions.
  7. Once you enter the Zoom room for the actual exam, the Testing Proctors will be waiting for you. They may put you in the waiting room during the check-in process. Please wait for your turn to be checked in and called back in to begin the Essay Exam.
  8. For the practice exam, when you successfully navigate to the zoom testing room, you will see the message, “This meeting has not started”. At this point you may click on the Blackboard tab (upper left of screen) to view the sample exam, and then close the browser. You have completed the practice exam.
  9. For the actual exam, once all the test takers are in the Zoom room, the Testing Proctor will provide the essay topic choices.
  10. From the time you are given the essay topics, you will have 50 minutes to complete and submit the exam on Blackboard. Be sure to submit on time as you will NOT be able to submit it late.
  11. Please “Leave” the Zoom Meeting and close the LockDown browser to exit the test.

IMPORTANT: You will be monitored and recorded for the entire duration of the exam. Turn off all other devices (e.g. tablets, phones, second computers) and place them outside of your reach. Clear your desk or workspace as no outside material is allowed. Remain at your computer for the duration of the test and ensure that your face can be fully captured by the webcam. It is imperative that you follow instructions and not engage in any forms of academic dishonesty which can result in exam invalidation and other consequences permitted under University policy.  

If you have any difficulty downloading Respondus Lockdown Browser or signing into Blackboard, please email

Instructions for the oral portion of the ISE Exam:

Please note: If you are an International Teaching Assistant (ITA), you will not take the oral portion of the ISE Exam. You will need to take the ITA Exam instead. You can request an appointment for the ITA Exam at

The oral portion of your ISE Exam will be given on Zoom during the scheduled time.  This will often be on the day after the essay portion of the exam, or in the case where the essay portion of the exam is on Friday, the oral portion may be given on the following Monday. You will receive an email on the day of your exam with your exam appointment time and the Zoom link.  Please be available for at least 90 minutes from your appointment time and make sure that you have your photo ID (e.g., USC ID, passport) ready to show. Be sure to sign into your USC Zoom account, and not a personal Zoom account. You can ensure that you are signing in correctly by using this URL ( Once on this page, click “Sign in” which will direct you to sign in using your USC Net ID.

When you enter the Zoom session, your testers might not be in the room. Don’t worry if you don’t see them right away or if, instead of entering the room, you receive a dialog box that says “Waiting for the host to start this meeting” or “The host has another meeting in progress”. This is normal and expected. Please DO NOT leave the room. Your testers will join you as soon as they become available. This may take up to 60 minutes. Please wait in the Zoom meeting room until they arrive. The interview will last approximately 12-15 minutes.