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Setting up the IPads

To use an iPad in an examination you need to consider three questions:

  • Which apps do we need on the iPad? To answer this, see the pages on reading/accessing Digital Question Papers and about Digital Answer Booklets.
  • How can we copy Digital Question Papers and answers to/from the iPad? To answer this, see Loading Digital Papers on to iPads. 
  • How can the iPad be made secure so that candidates cannot access information on the internet or elsewhere, and so that support tools such as spellcheckers cannot be used, unless it's approriate? We'll address this question here.

For obvious reasons, it is important that candidates cannot access files:

  • Stored on the iPad or on the internet
  • or on other electronic devices that could connect to the iPad.

In Scotland, the SQA state that it is the school's responsibility to ensure that candidates cannot access any electronic sources or files via the internet or on USB drives or mobile devices. You can either adapt the learner's own device, or use an iPad which has been set up specifically for the exam.

In an external-assessed examination, any writing tools that may help the pupil, such as spellchecker or AutoCorrect must be turned off, unless you have requested permission for the student to use them through the SQA online AAR request system.

For internal National 3 and 4 literacy assessments, spellcheckers can be used.


There are a number of methods that you can use to make your iPads secure. The best approach is probably for the school technician or engineer to use the Mobile Device Managment (MDM) platform to set up an 'exam iPad’ that removes all apps and prevents access to the web pages on your iPads. Alternatively, you can set up each iPad individually by hand.


Securing the iPad with an MDM platform

Here at CALL Scotland, we use Meraki as our Mobile Device Managment (MDM) solution. An MDM is a type of security software used to monitor, manage and secure mobile devices that are deployed across an organisation.

Within Meraki, you can do many system level tasks that are harder to do manualy on an iPad. We recommend that you:

  • Restrict the app usage to only those required;
  • Remove all functionality and then go through and allow anything that is required;
  • Enable web content filtering and add your list of allowed websites (blank in some cases);
  • Disable the installation of apps;
  • Disable Siri (if not required).

You cannot disable WiFi or bluetooth within the MDM so restrict the WiFi at a school level on the network, i.e. block the MAC address of the iPad(s).


Securing the iPad manually

iPads have a feature called Guided Access which locks the iPad into a single app, and therefore prevents the learner from accessing any others. So if you were using PDF Expert or ClaroPDF to access the question paper, you could enable Guided Access to stop the candidate accessing other files or the internet.

Siri dictation will still work to use the internet to recognise speech and covert it to text, even when Guided Access is on.

Although Guided Access will prevent the candidate using other apps, it still allows access to the internet from within the app. This is good news for Siri, but it means that the user can get access to files in cloud storage on for example DropBox, Google Drive or SkyDrive. Therefore, access to any such storage should be disabled by either removing the Dropbox (or other) app from the device, by password-protecting the drive, or by preventing wi-fi access completely.

Also, if the question paper is not in 'question-and-answer format', the learner may need to use a PDF reader to read the paper, and a word processor or writing app to write their answers, and so locking them into one app only is not helpful.

You therefore need to restrict access to other apps and to the internet in other ways.

See Fraser Speir's blog on how he set up the Cedars iPads.

Steps to securing

  1. Back up the iPad (if required).
  2. Delete all the apps on the iPad that are not required in the assessment. This leaves only the apps required for the assessment.
  3. Delete all photos, music files, videos, contacts, reminders and other documents.
  4. Clear the browser history.
  5. Remove access to Mail, Contacts and Calendars: 'Settings' and remove all the accounts from 'Mail', 'Contacts' & 'Calendar'.
  6. Remove the 3G SIM card (If the iPad is a cellular model).
  7. Turn off access to the school Wi-Fi - using the school network settings and check that there are no other wi-fi internet access points available (unless you intend to use Siri speech recognition).
  8. Turn off Bluetooth: Settings > General > Bluetooth.
  9. Prevent access to the built-in iOS Apps:
    1. Go to Settings > General > Restrictions.
    2. Click on Enable Restrictions and enter a passcode
    3. Add the restrictions you require to the iPad, i.e. Safari, Camera, FaceTime, iTunes, iBookstore and installing and deleting apps. Note this still leaves Mail, iMessage, Calendar and Contacts that the pupil could access the internet to find previously hidden answers, which is why you need to prevent access to wi-fi or the internet.
    4. Turn off 'In-App Purchases' and set Require Password to Immediately.
    5. Under 'Privacy' select 'Location Services' and turn off 'Location Services', then 'Don’t Allow Changes'.
    6. Under 'Privacy', work your way down the other apps (Contacts etc) and set them to 'Don't Allow Changes'.
    7. Under 'Allow Changes' select 'Accounts' and select 'Don't Allow Changes' (this prevents anyone adding a new mail or other account).
    8. Under 'Game Center' turn off 'Multiplayer Games' and 'Adding Friends'.
  10. Turn off Auto-Correction and spellchecking (unless you have permission to use them):
    • Settings > General > Keyboard > Turn off 'Auto-Correction' and 'Check Spelling' (The candidate can easily turn them back on – we haven’t found a way to prevent this)'

You should now have an iPad with:

  • no stored files, emails, photos, videos, sound recordings or other documents;
  • only the apps which are required for the assessment;
  • no spellchecking or auto-correct;
  • no access to the internet or wi-fi.

this information is provided for guidance - we are not network security experts and so you should consult your technical specialists.