Adapted Digital Assessments


Who can use digital papers and assessments?

Pupils who are placed at a 'substantial disadvantage' with the usual 'published assessment arrangements'.

They are for learners who:

  • have difficulty with reading ordinary exam papers,
  • and/or with writing or recording responses.

For these pupils, the school or college can apply to SQA (and from 2014, most GCSE awarding bodies) to use Digital Question Papers as an 'Assessment Arrangement'.

A key part of this is ensuring schools and SQA meet their duties under the equality act 2010.

How many pupils are using them?

In 2022, there were:

Digital Question Papers were the most common type of modified papers requested from GCSE awarding boards in 2021-2022.

What do digital papers look like?

There are 2 types of SQA digital paper:

  • 'Question and answer' papers
    A PDF with answer boxes in the paper itself for candidates to type their answers on screen.
  • 'Question only' papers
    A PDF with no answer boxes - candidates use a 'Digital Answer Booklets' to type their answers into a separate file.


Which devices can access digital papers?

Digital question papers were originally developed for Windows computers and pupils in some areas of Scotland now have their own iPads and Chromebooks. iPads and Chromebooks can be used with digital papers but there are challenges with managing iPads and Chromebooks for exams. We are investigating options and will add more information to this web site when we find workable, practical solutions.

How are they used in practice?

  1. The school requests digital papers from SQA using the online Assessment Arrangements Request (AAR) system. 
  2. SQA sends the digital papers on CD some weeks in advance of the day of the exam or makes the files available for secure download. 
  3. On the day of the exam, school staff load the digital papers (and answer booklets, if required) on to:
  • A Windows computer with Adobe Reader, Microsoft Word and a text reader;
  • or an iPad - several apps can be used;
  • or a Chromebook - again, a few extensions can be used.

(Using an iPad or Chromebook for digital papers is possible, but colleagues in schools report that it is different to meet SQA security requirements and is usually not practical for examinations.)

Completed digital papers and answer booklets are printed off and sent to the SQA to be marked.