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FAQs - Electronic exams

Please regularly check this page for new questions as we continue with the implementation of electronic examinations.

Equity and fairness

Why can’t examinations continue to be undertaken by pen and paper?

The traditional pen and paper examination is increasingly becoming an outdated method of assessing students. Students use technology to undertake the majority of their learning and it makes little sense to ask students to complete the final component of their course as a ‘pen and paper’ examination.

Can students access special provisions for the electronic examination?

Yes, eligible students, defined under the Special Provisions Policy, can access a range of special provisions including extra time, rest breaks, the use of assistive technology and other provisions. For more information visit Special Provisions for electronic examinations.

How will electronic examinations cater for students who have trouble reading text on-screen?

Electronic examinations allow students to zoom in and out for readability.

Will the electronic examination cater for students with visual impairments?

Yes, the responsive design provides the ability for the student to adjust the zoom of the display (text and graphics) to suit their preference.

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Technical readiness and training for schools

What technology will schools require in order to participate in electronic examinations?

The SACE Board has specified minimum technical requirements.

Will training be available for students?

Care has been taken to ensure the software is easy for students to use without training.  Consultation with a number of Year 11 students resulted in affirmation for the system and no perceived need for training. Students are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the example electronic examination available on the SACE website.

Can iPads or tablets be used?

No, iPads and tablet devices do not meet the SACE Board’s minimum technical requirements

Can ‘bring your own devices’ be used?

Yes, however it will be at the discretion of the individual school. Each device will require the installation of a locked down SACE exam browser application, which prevents students from accessing unauthorised websites, and applications.

Visit the BYOD section on the IT Managers page.

What happens if a computer experiences issues during a SACE electronic examination?

No student will be disadvantaged if their device stops working during an electronic examination. In the case of interruptions, examinations can be paused while technical support is provided and resumed as required with no time lost. If a device stops working, all responses will have been saved and the student can resume on another device as required with no time lost.

SACE Co-ordinators can access training to assist them to manage situations that could occur during an exam.

Can any locked down browser be installed for a SACE Electronic Examination?

No, either the SACE Examination Browser for Windows or SACE Examination Browser for Mac will be required to run the SACE Electronic Examination System. The only exception will be for students that are eligible to access assistive technology under the SACE Special Provisions policy. These students are not required to install SACE Examination Browser and are able to access applications on their device that allow them to access the examination.

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Student preparedness

How do teachers best prepare students for an electronic examination?

The best preparation for electronic examinations is engagement in subject learning. It is common practice for schools to provide students with multiple formative critical reading tasks in preparation for the final SACE examination. We encourage the main focus to be on critical reading and not on the electronic examination software, as the software has been designed to ensure it is easy to use.

What typing ability do students need to be able to successfully engage with an electronic exam?

Students are constantly using technology, from primary through to secondary school and their everyday life outside of school. By Year 12, students should have competent ICT skills, know their way around an electronic device and type their responses. Examination questions are not designed to test digital literacy or typing speed, they are designed to assess critical reading and thinking. We think that that it is rare that SACE students are not competent at using electronic devices (phones, tablets, laptops etc.) to write. For students who are eligible for special provisions that demonstrate very low typing speeds, analogous to very low handwriting speed, may be granted additional time to complete their examination. See SACE Special Provisions for further information.

Are there other skills that students will need in order to undertake the electronic examination?

Care has been taken to ensure the software is easy to use without training. The look, feel and features like scrolling and navigation are familiar to those that use the internet every day. The key ICT skills students require to participate in subject learning, including electronic examinations, are:

  1. read the screen and navigate webpages
  2. tap/move cursor to locate and select
  3. type an answer  
  4. use word processing.

Can teachers use the electronic examination system to create their own assessment tasks?

No. The current licensing and commercial arrangements the SACE Board has with the provider of the electronic examination system do not allow for use of the system by anyone other than the SACE Board for the purposes of delivering examinations. There are no current plans to change these licensing arrangements. 

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Examination rules and conditions

Can students ‘copy’ content from source texts and ‘paste’ it into their responses?

Yes, however, teachers should encourage students to be discerning when using content from the texts. Quotes should be kept to a minimum, and only used to justify a point.

Can students access an electronic dictionary?

Yes, students can access an electronic Collins student dictionary.

Will students have access to a spellchecker?

Yes, students will be able to spellcheck their work during an electronic examination.

Can students change the font sizes of their response so they can easily read their response?

No, the font size cannot be changed. The student can use the zoom in/out features so they can read their response easily.

How will students indicate which text(s) they are responding to?

When students have a choice of texts to respond to, they will be prompted to indicate their choice(s) from a list of the available texts.

As soon as the examination begins students will be able to read, highlight and annotate texts, make notes, and respond to questions. We encourage teachers to advise students to read the texts carefully and consider their responses to questions.

Can students use earplugs during their electronic examination?

Yes, students can choose to wear their own non-electronic earplugs during an electronic examination.

Will the examination indicate the time students have available to complete the examination?

Yes, the examination indicates time remaining for students to complete the examination.

How will students be prevented from cheating in an electronic examination environment?

Current invigilation processes will continue to be applied during the examination, and student devices will be set up to ensure students cannot access the internet and other information and applications.

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Exam day

When an exam invigilator enters extra time, does the clock on the student’s device automatically reflect this to the student?

Yes, the student time will be adjusted accordingly and therefore reassure the student that they have additional time.

If a student’s device fails and they need to exchange their device, do they lose the time required to exchange devices?

No, in this situation the exam invigilator will note how much time was taken in the switch and grant the student additional time to make up for lost time and time to readjust.

Can students log into their examination before the exam start time?

No, all log information is provided at the examination centre at the scheduled examination start time.

Can the student’s examination countdown timer be hidden?

No, the timer displays for the entire examination by default. 

How often is a student’s work saved?

Work is saved every 1 minute and when the student moves between screens.

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Implementation timeline and helpline

How can I find out more information or get an update?

Please continue to check these pages on the SACE website. If you are unable to find the information you need please contact: askSACE@sa.gov.au or call +61 8 8115 4712.

Will electronic examinations in other subjects be offered in the future?

More subjects will follow by 2020, by which time a third of all students sitting exams will do at least one on computer.  As we move forward the SACE Board will communicate with schools the subjects selected to allow schools to plan for their implementation. Initially, electronic examinations will be similar in design to pen and paper exams. Over time we expect that all schools and all students will have devices and infrastructure to sit completely online examinations and, as a consequence, our examinations will evolve to include new forms of assessment that are more interactive and relevant to how technology is used in the teaching and learning.

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