Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I have to take this test?
Since teachers must know how to use technology to optimize teaching and learning, the professional education programs will prepare professional education candidates [candidates] to apply knowledge of essential tools of technology to the teaching/learning process; but, first, the candidates must enter the professional education programs with a working knowledge of basic computer applications.
The Professional Education Council, the policy-making body for the professional education programs at The University of Southern Mississippi, has mandated that all students entering professional education programs must demonstrate basic technology literacy. This requirement provides a “more level playing field” among the candidates allowing the professional education faculty to build on technological skills that will assist the candidates with integrating these skills into the instructional framework and teaching.
Since the fall semester 2003, all students applying for admission to Professional Education at The University of Southern Mississippi have been required to obtain a passing score on each of the five modules of the Basic Technology Literacy Exam (BTLE). The five modules consist of word processing, spreadsheet, telecommunications, presentation, and database.
The competencies assessed by this test are based on the National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS for Teachers) from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).
What will I be tested on?
The competencies on which the test modules are based are listed at http://www.usm.edu/btle/entry-level-skills.
What is the test like?
The test is completely performance-based, which means you will be given certain tasks and will be evaluated on your ability to complete them successfully. The test will be administered in a Microsoft Office environment and consists of five modules: word processing (Word); spreadsheet (Excel); telecommunications (Internet Explorer); presentation (PowerPoint); and databases (Access).
How do I register for the test?
You must register online at http://www.usm.edu/btle/initial-test-registration. Before you register, you will need to have a USM e-mail account. All Southern Miss students can obtain a free usm.edu E-mail address by contacting the iTECH Help Desk at 266-HELP (266-4357).
You MUST have an active USM e-mail account to register for the BTLE. You will get an “invalid ID number” error message if your e-mail account is not activated. Call the Help Desk at 266.HELP (266.4357). You will be able to register after 7:00 a.m. the following day.
How long does it take?
The test is scheduled for a four-hour block for the completion of all five modules. Most students use all the allotted time to complete the assigned tasks.
Is there a time limit for each module?
No, the 4-hour limit is for the entire test. Students will be given all five modules at the beginning and can work through them at their own pace.
How can I prepare for the test?
Begin by reading the list of entry-level technology competencies which the test is designed to assess. You can also take the BTLE Practice Test.
Training classes may be available from Expanding Excellence through the Learning Enhancement Center (LEC). These classes are free, but all classes are not offered every semester. Please visit the LEC website to check for sessions and availability.
If you have some basic knowledge of all of the applications but would benefit from a review, take advantage of the free online tutorials provided.
Is there a charge for the test?
The cost for initial testing is $25.00. FEES ARE NON-REFUNDABLE. The appropriate amount will be charged to the student's account upon registration. If a student does not test on the registered date, or if the student registers for a second testing date, an additional testing fee will be charged. The cost for retesting is $5.00 per module and will be charged to the student's account upon registration. Again, if the student does not retest on the registered date, or if the student registers for a second retesting date, an additional $5.00 per module retesting fee will be charged.
Do I need to bring any materials?
You will need to bring your USM ID card to prove your identity, a set of headphones, and an active USM e-mail address. (Please know your password before you come to take the test!)
Do I need an e-mail address?
Yes, and it must be your USM e-mail address. You will not be able to register without that e-mail address and some of the tasks on the Telecommunications part of the test require that you use your USM e-mail account.  Please know your password before you come to take the test.
Where are the tests usually held?
The BTLE is administered in computer labs on the Hattiesburg and Gulf Coast campuses. For the current dates and locations, click http://www.usm.edu/btle/exam-dates.
What if I know some applications but don't know others?
If you are familiar with the Windows environment and you know some of the Microsoft Office applications, you can probably develop sufficient skill with a new program by working through one or more of the free online tutorials.
You can also take the BTLE Practice Test.
What if I pass some modules but not others?
Because the test is modular, it is possible to bank your passing performances for the re-test. The first time you take the test, you will take all five modules. Students who are unsuccessful in obtaining a passing score on any of the five BTLE modules will have their passing scores "banked" for the semester in which they took the test. If a student is unsuccessful in passing all five BTLE modules, the student will be required to take IT 201.  The test and the retest have to be completed in the first semester of Gold Card classes or the first week of the second semester.  Scores will not be banked pasted the semester in which the test was first taken.
What if I don't pass the test?
Can I still be admitted into a professional education program? No.
The Professional Education Council, the policy-making body for the professional education programs at The University of Southern Mississippi, has mandated that all students entering professional education programs must demonstrate basic technology literacy. Since the fall semester 2003, all students applying for admission to Professional Education at The University of Southern Mississippi have been required to obtain a passing score on each of the five modules of the Basic Technology Literacy Exam (BTLE). The five modules consist of word processing, spreadsheet, telecommunications, presentation, and digital citizenship.
I'm a Mac user—can I take the test in a Mac lab?
The assessment is administered in a PC environment because that is the most frequently used operating system in the public schools. As you prepare for the test, you should visit one of the open PC labs on campus to familiarize yourself with the PC.
I learned Corel instead of MS Office—what do I need to do to prepare to take the test in an Office environment?
The applications and task demands evolve around fundamentals of cut, copy, paste, and format. While we acknowledge the differences between the two platforms, the similarities far outweigh the differences. Technology use requires the ability to adapt. You are encouraged to practice in a MS Office environment if you have concerns about your ability to generalize to similar systems. You can also take the BTLE Practice Test.
You can also take advantage of the free online tutorials provided.
When are the testing dates?
You can see the current testing dates and locations at www.usm.edu/btle/exam-dates.
Is there a class I can take to prepare for the BTLE?
Yes, you can take IT 201. The BTLE is the final exam for this class. All passing scores will be sent to Educator Licensure. The class is offered every semester on the Hattiesburg and Coast campuses.