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PDF Expert

Available free from the App store

The free PDF Expert 7 can be used to read, type into and annotate Digital Question Papers. The paid-for Pro version can be used to edits PDFs as well. 


PDF Expert 7 is a good option for accessing Digital Question Papers. The drawing tools, particularly the snap function and palm rejection, are possibly better than ClaroPDF for drawing in exams. On the other hand, ClaroPDF lets you change the page colour, and the text reader tools in ClaroPDF are slightly easier to use. ClaroPDF Pro (£9.99) offers a bigger range of voices including Scottish accents.

1. Opening papers

PDF Expert can open papers directly (within the app) from many sources including OneDrive, SharePoint, iCloud, DropBox, Google Drive and WebDAV network drives. This is simpler than going to the OneDrive app, say, and then opening the paper from within OneDrive. It also means you can lock candidates into just using the PDF Expert app (but make sure candidates can't get to any network drives from PDF Expert that may have files you don't want them to see!).

You can also open the paper in another app and then copy it to PDF Expert.

2. Viewing the paper

Pinch to zoom in or out. Double tap to swap between seeing the whole page and page width view. The PDF papers are not reflowed when you zoom in and so if you need a very large font, you will probably have to scroll the paper around to read it.

Tap the aA button at top right to choose between black-on-white, white-on-black, or 'Sepia' colour schemes.

You can also choose to have vertical or horizontal scrolling, and to view two pages at once.

Viewing several PDFs at the same time is not possible, but you can have two files open in PDF Expert,
which makes swapping between question paper and a PDF answer booklet slightly faster.

3. Navigate around the paper

  • Turn pages: tap or flick at the left or right edge of the screen.
  • Table of contents: tap the Open Book at top right then the Bullet List. You can view the list of questions and tapto go to a specific question.
  • Bookmarks: tap the Open Book at top right then the ribbon to add a bookmark. This could be helpful to mark a paragraph or a question. Tape the bookmark to remove it.
  • Search: tap the 'magnifying glass' to search for a word or page number.

4. Reading with text-to-speech

There are two ways to have questions read out:

  1. Set up the built-in iPad Spoken Content tools, select the text to be read, then tap 'Speak'. The iPad Speak on Touch does not seem to work reliably in PDF Expert.
  2. PDF Expert has a Text-to-Speech feature which works quite well for papers with a simple layout, but it starts at the top of the page and reads from there. It can be hard to control if the page has a complicated visual layout.
  • Voices: Both text readers use the voices available on the iPad, i.e. no Scottish accents.
  • Word definitions: select and word and choose 'Define' to read a definition. Note that definitions and dictionaries are not permitted in examinations and so the dictionaries should be should be deleted. To do this, open a definition then tap Manage in the bottom left. Swipe left to delete the dictionaries. They can be downloaded again, but not if the iPad isn't connected to the internet - which it should not be, in the examination.

5. Typing into answer boxes

Tap on an answer box, and type the answer. The iPad Prediction and other writing supports can be used, as can Siri and Voice Control dictation. 'Speak Selection' can read back your answer. Tick boxes are selected by tapping.

6. Drawing, comments and annotation tools

PDF Expert has a good selection of tools for drawing and annotating. There is a useful snapping feature where drawings and shapes 'snap' to existing graphic content. To disable this, tap and hold on a shape you've drawn and choose 'Disable snapping'. There is a wrist rest facility for left handed and right handed users.