DOTS FAQs

General Information about DOTS

What is the DOTS?

DOTS (Drumcondra Online Testing System) is a platform that schools can use to buy and administer standardised tests to students.  It supports the administration and reporting of a wide range of ‘Drumcondra’ tests at both primary and post-primary levels, in both English and Irish.  Tests of English reading, mathematics, Irish and reasoning (verbal, numeric ability) are available.

After you get set up on DOTS, you will be able to manage all aspects of the administration of tests (purchase of tests, scheduling of test sessions, generation of individual student logins and passwords, downloading class- and individual-level reports of results) from within the system.

Where can I find information about the different online tests that are available?

You can find out about our different tests at http://trythetests.erc.ie/chooseyourtest.

How long do the tests take to administer?

The Primary online tests (DPRT and DPMT) take approx. 90-100 mins in total, including time for set-up and breaks. The tests themselves are structured in two sections of 35mins each.

The Post Primary tests are timed as follows:

  • DRT: Two sections: Verbal Reasoning (20 mins) and Numeric Ability (30 mins).
  • PPRT: 50 mins
  • PPMT: 60 mins
  • TLGG: 80 mins
What hardware/software do we need to run online tests?

The tests will run on laptops, PCs, tablets and iPads, and do not need a large bandwidth (i.e., they should run without problems on most internet connections).

DOTS works with keyboard or touchscreen, and with or without a mouse.

You can run a device check to make sure that your device is suitable for using DOTS here: http://trythetests.erc.ie/requirements

Getting Started on DOTS

How do I get set up on the DOTS?

Give us a call (from the school landline) or drop us a note (dots@erc.ie) with the name and email address of a nominated teacher who can act as a coordinator for the DOTS in your school. We will then contact you to set you up with access to the system.

Our contact details are available from: http://trythetests.erc.ie/contactus.

The system won’t open. What should I do?

For teachers, the URL is https://schooladmin.erc.ie (if you are new to DOTS please use the initial link email sent when setup on the system first).

I did not receive an email with my DOTS login and password. What should I do?

The email with your login details (from noreply@erc.ie) is probably in your spam or junk folder, please check there. If you are unable to locate this email please contact us at dots@erc.ie.

I can’t remember my password. What should I do?

Click Forgot Your Password on the login screen and follow the instructions.

My new password is not working. What should I do?

For security, new passwords must be activated from within your email account. When you change the password, open your Password Renewal Request email and click the link within. (Remember to clear your cached history if you are encountering problems).

I get a ’fatal error message’ when I login

Are you using Google Chrome or Firefox? These are the recommended browsers for test taking.  If you are using any other browser and get this error message, please try again using either Chrome or Firefox.

Note: https://schooladmin.erc.ie does not work well on MS Edge.

How do I access the DOTS User guide?

After logging in to the https://schooladmin.erc.ie website, go to the Teacher Resource Area (using the tab along the left-hand side of the screen) and download the DOTS User Guide using the cogwheel to the right hand side (as shown in the screenshot below).

How do I upload student information (such as names and date of birth) to DOTS?

See the Adding Students section in the User Guide, or see the video in the Teacher Resource Area: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3Pxk2Qk6lY

I pressed the Export Pupils Template button, but nothing happened. What should I do?

To use the template, you need to ensure that popups are not blocked on your computer.

If you have blocked pop-ups, you might see a notification. Click it to enable the pop-up to open.

I imported student details to DOTS but they haven’t appeared. What should I do?

Press F5 to refresh your screen. If the students are not visible, the upload has failed. The three most likely causes are:

  • Step 7 was skipped – in this case, repeat the upload following the steps given in the User Guide.
  • The Excel template was changed (e.g., deleted, renamed, moved a field) – in this case, export the template again, and only paste in first and last names. Make no other changes
  • Dates of birth were added in the wrong format – in this case, follow the instructions below (next query).
How do I change the Date of Birth if it is in the wrong format?

If the date of birth is in the ‘wrong’ format, you see a green mark in the top left of the cells in Excel (as shown in the screenshot). These students will not be uploaded successfully.

The simplest solution is to delete the date of birth. However, you may want to retain it for clarity (e.g., where two students have similar names). If you want to retain the dates of birth, select all cells with a green mark, click the yellow ‘warning’ sign that appears, and select Convert XX to 20XX (as shown in the screenshot).

Buying and Scheduling Tests

How do I purchase tests?

Once you are setup as a school coordinator for DOTS, login and Click the shopping trolley icon on the left side of the screen.

How do I purchase tests without access to a Credit/Debit Card?

Please send your order by email to tests@erc.ie, including the following information:

  • your school details;
  • a contact name and number;
  • a Purchase Order number for invoicing; and
  • details of the type and number of tests that you want to buy.

To request a quote for tests, please email dots@erc.ie with details.

How do I set up a test session?

Click the Test Scheduler (using the tab along the left-hand side of the screen).

You need to complete all sections that are marked with red flags.

I can’t save the new Test Session. What should I do?

Usually, this means that you do not have enough credits for the particular type of test that you want to administer (for example, DPRT or DPMT).

You can only set up a test session if you have enough credits for that test type. If you bought 20 reading tests and are planning a session for 22 students, you need to buy two more tests.

How do I check how many credits of each test type we have available to use?

While you are logged in as School Coordinator, click on the Credits tab.

  • Balance gives you the number of credits for each test type that you have purchased.

Allocated tells you how many (if any) of these credits have already been assigned to an upcoming test session.

DOTS Testing

What do I need on the day of testing?

Please ensure that you have the following ready before beginning your test session:

  • Printed passwords for all students.
  • The Test ID and section password if required (printed on cover page of student passwords)
  • Printed Test Administration Manual for the test you are administering.

To access the manual, go to the Teacher Resource Area (using the tab along the left-hand side of the screen) and download the manual for your selected tests (e.g. DRT Test Admin Manual, as shown here).

When I Print passwords, nothing happens What should I do?

Check that pop-ups are enabled. Depending on which internet browser you are using, you might see a message like one of these below. You need to enable pop-ups to allow the file to open.

Passwords appear as PDF files in your download centre. If more than one class are testing in the same session, separate PDFs will appear for each class.

I have printed passwords for a test session but there are no passwords shown on the sheet. What should I do?

There is no class selected or no students in the test session. Go to the test scheduler, and edit as needed.

For example, if we go to the Test Scheduler for the class ‘Places D’, but the Student box is blank, as shown below.

If you added the class to the test session before it was populated with student details, you will have to remove (click on the X to the right of the class name in School Classes) and then reselect the class (making sure you have populated the students to this class).

How do I add a new student for testing (before the test session start date)?

Go to page 4 of the User Guide and follow the steps outlined there.
Note that if you have already set up a test session for this class and wish to include a new student you will have to:

  1. Delete the test session completely, and set up a new test session with the updated class list. 
    OR
  2. Set up a separate test session for just this new student, following the steps in the User Guide section on How To Exclude students (in this case, excluding all students except the new student).

During Testing

A student login screen looks funny | My student can’t see part of the question. How can I fix this?

Adjust the zoom setting on the screen. If the problem persists, change browser or change device.

A student logged out of the test early or was disconnected from wifi. What should I do?

Log back in. All completed answers are saved, and the student will be returned to their last location on the test.

A question in the test has froze | A student is stuck on a question | A student can’t access part 2 of the test. How can I fix this?

This problem can be caused by repeated clicks on the browser back arrow (i.e., not within the system).

In this order, try:

  1. Refreshing the page (press F5 or CTRL + F5).
  2. If the problem persists, logout and then log back in again.
  3. Change to another browser (Firefox, Chrome) and log in.
  4. The device may be too old or its screen resolution too poor. If so, try logging in on another device

Note: It is ESSENTIAL that you logout from the old device before logging in on a new one.

If all else fails, set up a new test session for the school with the affected student as a sole occupant.

The school internet crashed during testing | All screens are frozen. What so I need to do?

Ask all students to log out of the test and to close all browser windows.

Then, when the internet connection has been re-established, ask them to re-open their browsers and to log in as normal.

Please be assured that all questions answered before the crash have been saved to the system.

There is an additional student who needs to be added to the testing session, but testing has already started. What should I do?

Please do not alter a test session once testing has started.

If you contact us (dots@erc.ie or 01 8065 223) we can advise you on what to do in this situation.

We need to test a student who was absent on the day that tests were administered, but now the test window has closed. What can I do?

You can arrange a new test session yourself from within DOTS - simply set up a new session for the student who was absent (i.e., excluding all the students who have already tested).

Alternatively, we can extend the test window for a particular testing session if you email dots@erc.ie. Make sure to include details of the class name, Test ID number of the student(s) concerned, and your planned follow-up test dates.

Any test credits that are not used during a session become available again to be re-assigned once a test session’s end date has passed.

Editing Classes & Students

How do I delete a student who has never been assigned a test?

You can delete student details from within the Students tab. Click the box to the left of the student (or multiple students, as appropriate). The row will be highlighted and the Delete button enabled. Click Delete.

Press F5 to refresh the screen to confirm the deletion.

I can’t delete a student. How can I fix this?

You can’t delete a student if she or he has completed a test, or has been scheduled to take one. For example, if Joan is in a class that is scheduled to do the DRT next week, she can’t be deleted. You will need to delete the test session, delete Joan’s details, and then create a new test session.

(This is one reason to delay setting up test sessions until close to the time (e.g., the week before testing).)

If a student (or their parents) want their data to be completely removed from the system for data privacy reasons, they can send a Subject Access Request to delete their data to data.protection@erc.ie.

How do I move a student who has left the class or changed class?

You can reassign a student to a different class or create a fake class (e.g. ‘No longer enrolled in school’) for students who have left the school. 

  1. Click the School Classes tab and then click the Quick Add Anything in the pop-up with a red flag is a required field. The school level details are pre-filled.
  2. In the Student tab, select the cogwheel to the right of the student name and edit as appropriate.

You can choose the new class from the dropdown list in the Class field.

Reporting after Testing

There is some content missing from our reports, or the formatting is incorrect. How can I rectify this?

Please contact the DOTS team in the ERC (dots@erc.ie) with a description of the problem (and, ideally, a screenshot). We will rectify the problem.  Please be assured that there will be no loss of data.

Reports are not showing all tested students. How can I fix this?

Please check that your test window has closed (i.e., that you have passed the last date scheduled for testing on the system), and that all students have completed the test.