Adapted Digital Exam Papers


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This presentation explores Digital Exam Papers, a project led by CALL Scotland to support learners with additional needs in exams.

Can you be a:

- Successful learner - if you can’t read books, learning materials and examination papers?
- Confident individual - if you depend on others to read to you or write for you in assessments?
- Responsible citizen - if you don’t have access to information?
- An effective contributor - if you can’t speak, write or communicate independently?

By using digital papers in examinations, and by using accessible digital learning materials more generally in schools, we can help young people become:

- more successful learners - because they can read learning materials when they want, where they want;
- more confident individuals, because they don't have to rely on a reader or scribe;
- more responsible citizens, because they are learning to be independent and self-reliant, rather than learning to depend on readers and scribes;
- more effective contributers, because they will know more, will have learned that they can contribute, and have the ways and means to contribute themselves.

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  • Idiot’s guide to public speaking says start your talk with a joke – so here’s some amusing answers to exam papers (not the digital ones)
  • SQA has policy and procedures for candidates with disabilities and additional support needs, including those with dyslexia, to demonstrate their abilities in SQA exams.
  • Some background – numbers of candidates and requests for assessment arrangements in 2006
  • Demo of digital papers: Single paper question and answer format – eg. Int 1 Computing – change size, colours, type answers English SG Reading Text and Questions – how to swap from text to questions – show Browsealoud Question only paper e.g History – have to use Word – show copying and pasting question from PDF to Word
  • Candidates can use a variety of writing tools, like word prediction, switches with on-screen keyboard, speech recognition etc, to type in answers
  • Candidates can use a variety of writing tools, like word prediction, switches with on-screen keyboard, speech recognition etc, to type in answers
  • Candidates can also use drawing tools, highlighter and text notes to answer questions. However, the answer boxes are not great for typing in maths or scientific notation. This is something we’re looking at with SQA. Also, not all papers have answer boxes – only those papers which are ‘question and answer’ format. Pupils are supplied with both digital and paper copies e.g. could use text to speech to read questions then write answers on paper paper
  • Software required is free. Adobe Reader to open the paper; Browsealoud to read it out using the computer’s voice. You can also use Acrobat built-in Read outloud feature but it’s not very good. You’re best with PDFaloud though – it has a better user interface, comes with good voices, can read any PDF (e.g. prelim papers you have made yourself), and it can read answers in answer boxes. PDfaloud should be available to Scottish schools from Learning and Teaching Scotland soon (they’ve been telling me that for months though)
  • Heather is available from
  • But it’s not a panacea – the papers suit some candidates for some subjects.
  • CALL’s web site where you can get more info. Also links to SQA we site where you can get SQA guidance, all the 2007 SQA ADPs, and a spreadsheet with the 2008 papers that are on offer and if they are Q and A format or not
  • SQA’s Assessment Arrangements web site at has guidance notes, all the 2007 Adapted Digital Past Papers, and a list of the ADPs that were on offer for 2008 and whether they are question and answer format, or not.
  • Adapted Digital Exam Papers

    1. 1. SQA Adapted Digital Question Papers Paul D. Nisbet CALL Scotland University of Edinburgh
    2. 10. SQA Assessment Arrangements <ul><li>“ Assessment arrangements should ensure that all candidates have an equal opportunity to show that they can achieve the national standards required for Units and Courses.” </li></ul><ul><li>Introduction to Assessment Arrangements </li></ul><ul><li>SQA, November 2008 </li></ul>
    3. 11. SQA Assessment Arrangements 2009 <ul><li>Requests for Assessment Arrangements made for 13,041 candidates (8% of candidates) </li></ul><ul><li>Requests made for 45,612 entries (6.2 % of entries) </li></ul>
    4. 12. 2009 assessment arrangements (45,612 requests) Extra Time 35,636 Digital Question Paper 1,167 Separate accommodation 26,381 Calculator 660 Reader 16,554 Transcription without correction 626 Scribe 14,197 PA referral 540 Use of ICT 6,253 Modified content 277 Prompter 2,099 Adapted certificate 119 Coloured Paper 2,050 Paper signed to candidate 57 Rest Period 1,434 Candidate Signs Responses 42 Enlarged Print 1,305 Tape recorder for responses 37 Transcription with correction 1,179 Braille 31
    5. 13. SQA Adapted Digital Papers PDFAloud speech tools Form fields for answers Sentence being read and each word highlighted
    6. 14. Supporting reading <ul><li>Zoom in and out </li></ul><ul><li>Change colours </li></ul><ul><li>Navigate with keyboard/mouse </li></ul><ul><li>Text-to-speech </li></ul>
    7. 15. Supporting writing <ul><li>Acrobat spellchecker </li></ul><ul><li>Word processor spellchecker etc </li></ul><ul><li>Word prediction (e.g. Co:Writer, Penfriend) </li></ul><ul><li>On-screen keyboards </li></ul><ul><li>Switch access </li></ul><ul><li>Speech recognition </li></ul><ul><li>Screen magnification </li></ul>
    8. 16. Answer Booklets <ul><li>Only ‘Question and Answer’ papers (Intermediate, SG Foundation and General) have red answer boxes </li></ul><ul><li>To answer most SG Credit, Higher and Advanced Higher papers use either: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Answer booklets in PDF </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A word processor, e.g. Microsoft Word </li></ul></ul><ul><li>PDF Answer booklets are available from SQA </li></ul>
    9. 17. . Can I use a spellchecker in the examination? <ul><li>SQA’s policy is that “all software such as spellchecks, predictive software etc, must be disabled, unless it has been approved by SQA.” [1] </li></ul><ul><li>Spellcheckers can be requested for candidates who “potentially have the ability to achieve the national standards”, but are “unable to do using the published assessment arrangements” [2]. Spellcheckers should only be requested for candidates who have a particular spelling difficulty due to, for example, dyslexia, and where their poor spelling is likely to impact on their ability to demonstrate their skills and knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>[1] SQA 2008, Assessment Arrangements Explained, p.8, </li></ul><ul><li>[2] SQA 2008, Introduction to Assessment Arrangements, p.3, </li></ul>
    10. 18. . Can I use a spellchecker in the examination? <ul><li>If your candidate is eligible want to use a spellchecker (or any other technique that may help the candidate with spelling, like word prediction or speech recognition), you must request it using the standard Assessment Arrangements Request system. Use of a spellchecker is regarded as a type of Assessment Arrangement. </li></ul><ul><li>You can request to use a spellchecker in almost all subjects apart from the writing papers in Modern Languages and , Gaelic (Learners) and Gàidhlig. The Writing papers for these subjects assess spelling and so spellcheckers are not allowed for any candidate. </li></ul><ul><li>[1] SQA 2008, Assessment Arrangements Explained, p.8, </li></ul><ul><li>[2] SQA 2008, Introduction to Assessment Arrangements, p.3, </li></ul>
    11. 19. Maths and drawing <ul><li>Basic drawing tools in Acrobat Reader </li></ul><ul><li>MS Word Equation Editor or other equation tool can be used to create maths/scientific notation </li></ul><ul><li>But options for maths and science are limited </li></ul>
    12. 20. Software needed for ADPs <ul><li>To access the papers: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Acrobat Reader 7.0.9, 8 or 9 (free) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>To have the paper read out: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Adobe Reader Read Outloud (free) or </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PDFaloud (£295 site licence from LTS) or </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Another TTS program e.g. Read and Write Gold, ClaroRead etc </li></ul></ul>
    13. 21.
    14. 22. Not a panacea! <ul><li>Digital versions of paper assessments </li></ul><ul><li>Some questions may not ‘translate’ particularly well to the screen </li></ul><ul><li>Only ‘question and answer’ papers have answer boxes </li></ul><ul><li>See for a list of papers available for 2008 </li></ul>
    15. 23.
    16. 24. SQA Assessment Arrangements