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 2019, there were:

In 2018, 59% of state schools in Scotland requested digital papers from SQA.

In 2018-19, Digital Question Papers were the most common type of modified papers requested from GCSE awarding boards.

What do digital papers look like?

There are 2 types of 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.


Digital papers and assessments in 2022

Scottish Government and SQA have stated that examinations will be held in spring 2022 provided it is safe to do so.

Digital question papers were originally developed for Windows computers and more and more students have been provided with personal laptops, iPads and Chromebooks, so we will research and add more information on using these technologies for examinations to this web site.

Assistive Technology Assessment Arrangements after Covid-19

Throughout 2020-2021 we undertook research into the impact of Covid-19, the Alternative Certification Model, and the role of technology in assessments and a report with findings is available here.  

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 (various apps);
  • or a Chromebook - we are still researching which apps and extensions are best to use.

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