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' digital papers
  • 'Question only' digital papers
  • 'Question and answer' papers
    PDF file with answer boxes  in the paper itself for candidates to type their answers on screen.
  • 'Question only' papers
    Supplied with 'Digital Answer Booklets' for candidates to type their answers into a separate file.


Digital papers and assessments in 2021

Examinations in 2021 are cancelled due to Covid-19 and awards will be based on teacher and lecturer judgement supported by quality assurance. Teachers can use papers provided by SQA and/or create their own assessments to gather evidence of attainment

For 2021, teachers can use assessments in the usual PDF format or other formats such as Word or MS / Google Forms.

We are writing a series of blog posts on the use of technology for assessments:

Technology-based Assessment Arrangements for SQA 2020-21 Assessments. 14/12/20
All National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher assessments are now going to be assessed by schools and centres internally. What does this involve for learners with disabilities or additional support needs who use technology to access learning?

Technology-based Assessment Arrangements - Internet Security. 14/12/20. How can we manage and administer digital assessments for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher in 2021? Can we use cloud-based tools such as OneDrive or Google Classroom?

Technology-based Assessment Arrangements - Which Digital Formats? 15/12/20.
Which digital formats should we use for our internal National 5, Higher and Advanced higher assessments?

Technology-based Assessment Arrangements - Speech to Text Alternatives to Scribes. 16/12/20.
Modern digital devices all offer free, built-in speech-to-text or computer dictation tools. Can learners with disabilities or additional support needs use these tools for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher assessments?

Technology-based Assessment Arrangements - Digital Assessments Must be Accessible. 7/1/21.
Digital Assessments must be accessible to all learners including students with disabilities or additional support needs. In this blog we explore what this means and how to create accessible assessments.‚Äč

Technology-based Assessment Arrangements - SQA Digital Exams on iPad. 13/1/21.
With the latest version of Books on the iPad you can type into answer boxes on SQA Digital Question Papers. Find out how in this blog.

How to read maths with Immersive Reader. 26/1/21. Last Friday a teacher asked if we knew how to read mathematical expressions with Immersive Reader. Here's how it can be done.

Accessible Word Templates for 2021 National Qualifications 11 March 2021

2021 examinations have been cancelled and teachers and lecturers are devising their own assessments to gather evidence of attainment. We have updated pages on the Digital Assessments web site with information and advice and some downloadable templates to help practitioners create accessible assessments.

SQA 2021 Assessments and beyond - an Insight into Using Technology 29 April 2021

Dyslexia Scotland have published an excellent video workshop by Dawn Roberts and Innes Roberts on the use of assistive technology in assessments, and more broadly. The video is well worth a view if you are a teacher, parent or student using digital technology in assessments this term.

How to Divide and Edit SQA Question Papers 3 May 2021

Last week a teacher called us to ask how to split up SQA question papers because they need to separate out sections to use in classroom assessments. This blog has some hints and tips.



How easy are they to implement?

  • 1. The school requests digital papers from SQA using the online Assessment Arrangements Request (AAR) system. For 2021, SQA are not providing DQPs through the Assessment Arrangements system. DQPs from past years are available SQA's Digital Question Papers and new assessments from SQA's secure site.
  • 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. See above for sourcing SQA papers for 2021.
  • 3. On the day of the exam, school staff load the 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.
  • 4. Completed digital papers and answer booklets are printed off and sent to the SQA to be marked.