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Digital Answer Booklets

There are 2 types of digital paper:

  • 'Question and answer' digital papers:
    have red answer boxes into which you can type your answers.
  • 'Question only' digital papers:
    do not have answer boxes (such as English or History papers)

To answer these 'Question only' papers, use a word processor and/or a digital version of the answer booklet - a Digital Answer Booklet, or DAB

You can download DABs in either Word or PDF from SQA's website.

The DABs are also supplied on the CD with the Digital Question Papers.

CALL Digital Answer Booklet

The front page of the Microsoft Word SQA DABs does not display properly with Immersive Reader, Word 365 online, Google Docs or WordPad, so if you use these word processors, we offer you a generic DAB that does:

CALL Generic Digital Answer Booklet

(WordPad does not have spellcheck, so this gives a simple solution for learners who do not have permission to use spellcheck.)

Word or PDF Digital Answer Booklets?

The table illustrates the pros and cons of using Word and PDF DABs. PDF DABs are slightly simpler, but Word has much better word processing and editing facilities.

It is not compulsory to use a DAB: SQA prefer that you do because the DABs can be processed by the SQA e-marking systems, but if the DAB is not accessible for the user you can use the candidate's preferred word processor or writing tool.

The most important consideration is to ensure that candidates are confident and familiar with the software - this has more impact than which program you use.

  Advantages Disadvantages

Consistency: learners use Adobe Reader for both DQP and DAB.

The SCN from the cover will automatically copy to the header of each page.

Restricting the spellcheck is easy – just load the non-spellcheck version of the DAB.

The number of lines that can fit on one page of a PDF DAB is limited and text does not ‘flow’ from one page to another.

Editing tools are limited.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech recognition can be used, but with limited functionality. Windows speech recognition cannot be used.


The learner can use all the Word formatting, fonts, sizes, styles etc.

Text flows from page to page.

All speech recognition programs work, including Dragon and the free Microsoft Dictation (doesn't need internet, less accuaret) and free Microsoft Office Dictate (more accurate, requires an internet connection) tools.

Most writing support tools work better in Word, e.g. Co:Writer, Penfriend, ClaroRead, Read and Write Gold, Ginger, Ghotit, etc.

Word has better drawing and graphic tools than Adobe Reader.

Maths and Science: learners can type equations with the Word equation editor, and can use add-ons such as Efofex to write equations, chemical formulae etc.

SCN from cover sheet can be copied to the footer of every page (requires action by the candidate).

The learner needs two programs — one to read the digital paper and another to write their answers.
Word is more complicated to use than Adobe Reader.

Switching off the spellchecker, thesaurus and other writing tools for candidates who do not have permission to use a spellchecker is complicated and usually requires support from the school or local authority technician. 

The Word DABs don’t work on Google Docs.


PDF Digital Answer Booklets

There are two versions of the PDF digital answer booklets:

  • One with the Adobe Reader spellchecker enabled (for candidates who have permission to use a spellchecker)
  • and one without (for candidates who don't).

To make it easier working between the 2 PDFs:

  • You can move between them quickly by...
    • Clicking 'Window' on the main menu and then choose the paper you require (papers shown at bottom of menu list),
    • or press 'ALT-W' then 1 or 2 (if they're are only 2 PDFs).
  • You can cascade the PDFs by...
    • Clicking 'Window' on the main menu and then click on 'Cascade'.
  • You can tile the PDFs by...
    • Clicking 'Window' on the main menu and then click on 'Tile'.
    • Then select either 'Horizontally' or 'Verticaly'.

Word Digital Answer Booklets

If you use the Word answer booklets, open the paper in Adobe Reader and the DAB in Word, and swap between them by clicking on the Windows Taskbar, or pressing the 'ALT+TAB' keys.

Or manually change the position and size of the windows on screen to fit. You can have the windows side by side, or top and bottom.

You can select and copy questions or quotations from the PDF and paste them into the DAB to remind you of the question.