ExcelAssess: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get the software?

We check that everyone asking for the software is a staff member in an educational institution. Go to the ExcelAssess home page and enter your work email address.

What is the current version of the software?

Question Update 1, released 12th October 2005. This differs from the previous version in correcting a few errors in the initial release of questions and supplying some extra questions.

What are the hardware/software requirements?

ExcelAssess requires a Windows PC with Excel. We have tested the system with Excel 2003 and 2000, and it should also work with earlier versions. You will need WinZIP, PowerArchiver or a similar program to open the .zip file.

How do I install the program?

Opening the downloaded .zip file in PowerArchiver will install the program. In some similar programs you may need to click on setup.exe after opening the .zip file. After installing, you will have to reboot your computer.

How do I install new questions?

Just save them in the \Program Files\ExcelAssess\questions directory. The next time you run the program, they will appear in the list.

How do I uninstall the program?

Just use the normal procedure for uninstalling programs. Click on "Start", "Settings", "Control Panel", "Add/Remove Programs", then select ExcelAssess and press "Change/Remove".

Can I change the order in which questions appear in an exam?

The order of the questions is determined by their file names. It cannot be changed in the program, as we wanted the program to have no more controls than are necessary.

Where are my assessments?

All the assessments made by the program are saved in \Program Files\ExcelAssess\assessments, using the filename that you select (the .xls being automatically added). Once you press "Compile", the final text message in the bottom window will give you the exact location of the file.

Can I make the program open more quickly?

When it starts up, the program examines all of the files in the questions folder. Hence you can speed up the program by moving any questions you won't be using out of that folder. The first letter of each filename indicates the topic:

  • A = Elementary Microeconomics
  • B = Intermediate Micro
  • E = General Business
  • F = Financial Arithmetic
  • G = General Excel
  • S = Elementary Statistics
  • T = Elementary macroeconomics
  • U = Intermediate Macroeconomics

For example, if you won't be setting macroeconomics tests, move all files starting with T or U out of your \Program Files\ExcelAssess\questions directory

Where do I get additional questions?

New questions will be announced on this web site and on the Econ-Excel mailing list. An experienced Excel user should be able to make their own questions from a template. Documentation of how to create questions will appear on this site.

Can I use this software to run summative exams?

These questions have been used to run formal, invigilated university examinations, but it is essential to keep certain issues in mind if you plan to do this:

  • Can the students get advance copies of the questions? We will make every effort to restrict distribution of the program to lecturers and trainers but we cannot control what the users do with it once they download it, so we cannot guarantee 100% that students will not get a hold of the question files. One way to get around this is to adapt the questions yourself.
  • When a student puts the right answer in the wrong cell, they will not get the marks. Answer cells are clearly marked with colour, but still there may be issues with students complaining that their right answer was not credited. One of the roles of the invigilator in such an exam is to get the student to sign off that they agree to the mark given by the exam.
  • If email is available to the students during the exam, a high-scoring student can transfer their exam to other students by email, and this can be hard for an invigilator to detect. Ideally, email should not be available during the exam.

What license applies to the software?

CC-GNU GPL This is open-source software released under a Creative Commons-GNU General Public License. You are free to make changes to it and to redistribute it, but you must distribute the result under the same terms and provide the amended source code. If you make a product which you distribute to other people, please credit the authors David Whigham and John Houston.

Are there viruses, adverts or spyware in this software?

No. ExcelAssess will not do anything malicious to your computer. If for any reason you want to reverse all the changes made by the installer, just run the uninstall procedure and then manually delete the ExcelAssess directory. You can view the source code to see exactly what the program does.

Who paid for this software?

The question content has been donated to the education community by its authors, David Whigham and John Houston. The assessment compiler and installer were created thanks to a small grant from the JISC/Higher Education Academy's Distributed eLearning programme.

Who can I ask for support?

For any problems downloading or installing the software, contact the Economics Network. To discuss the content of the questions or to make other comments, contact David Whigham, dwh@gcal.ac.uk . If you're an economist using this software, we recommend subscribing to the Econ-Excel mailing list.