Frequently asked questions

These questions and answers have been developed in response to queries from schools, and will be frequently updated. If you have a query please email future.state@nzqa.govt.nz.


General information

Q. What is the difference between Trials and Pilots?

A. A “Trial” is a practice assessment that does not count towards a student’s NCEA, but the result may contribute towards a derived grade; a “Pilot” is an assessment where a student can gain credits towards their NCEA.

Q. What if I haven’t heard from NZQA?

A. Please check with your Principal’s Nominee in the first instance - all correspondence between NZQA and schools is taking place through them.

Digital examination dates

Q. When will the Trial examinations be held?

A. The mid-year Science Trial is held 18 June – 6 July.
    The end of year Trials are held over two windows; 10 - 28 September
    and 15 - 26 October.

Q. Can we set our own date for the Digital Trials?

A. Schools can choose when they conduct the Trials during the available windows. It is helpful to let NZQA know when Trials will be run so support can be made available via the helpline 0800 222 230.

Q. When will the Pilot examinations be held?

A. The Pilot examinations will be held on the same dates and times as the paper-based examinations, as follows.

Level and Subject

Date

Time

Level 1 Media Studies

8 November

9:30am

Level 1 English

12 November

9:30am

Level 2 Media Studies

12 November

2:00pm

Level 2 English

19 November

9:30am

Level 3 English

21 November

9:30am

Level 3 Classical Studies

23 November

2:00pm

Level 3 Media Studies

27 November

9:30am

Level 2 Classical Studies

29 November

2:00pm

Level 1 Classical Studies

30 November

2:00pm

Participation in digital vs paper examinations

Q. Do all students sitting an examination at my school need to participate in a Digital Trial or Pilot, or can there be a mixture of digital and paper assessments for one subject?

A. For schools:
- there can be a combination of students sitting digital examinations and students sitting paper-based examinations
- it is highly recommended that the two types of examinations are undertaken in different rooms, where possible.

For individual students:
- students can opt out of their digital examination at any point, and for any reason, but they must complete any standard they have started (either digitally, or on paper) and will not receive additional time to do so
- if students experience technical issues, they can transfer to paper at any point, and will receive any time lost at the end of the examination - the amount of time will be at the discretion of the supervisor. If due to a technical issue, students have completed a standard partially digitally and partially on paper, both sections will be marked by the same marker.

Technical requirements

Q. What browsers can be used for the assessments?

A. We recommend that you use one of the following browsers to access the digital examinations:
Chrome (54 or higher)
Safari (10 or higher)
Firefox (49 or higher)
Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge browsers are not compatible with the digital examination platform.

Q. We want to be able to use Chromebooks for the Digital Trials and Pilots, which don’t have Microsoft Word – will this be an issue?

A. No - as the Digital Trials and Pilots are run through browsers, they are not reliant upon any programs like Microsoft Word.

Q. What if schools are not sure of their technical capability to participate in a Trial or a Pilot?

A. Schools can assess their technical readiness via the technical requirements and other considerations webpage. The page covers requirements, such as device and operating system options. Where possible, we suggest you involve your IT support people to help assess your readiness.

It is strongly recommended that schools ask a large number of students to access previous digital examinations at the same time, enabling schools to test the capability of their infrastructure and observe how it behaves.

Opting in and out

Q. What is the cut-off date for opting into the Trials and/or Pilots?

A. Registrations for the Trials close on 27 July 2018. Registrations for Pilots are made through your SMS and close on 1 September 2018. Once Pilot registrations are closed, additional schools and/or students cannot be added.  This is necessary to enable NZQA to undertake logistical activities that will support the digital examinations.

Q. Are there prerequisites for participating in the Pilots?

A. Level 1 Pilots are available, as follows:

  • Level 1 Classical Studies
  • Level 1 English
  • Level 1 Media Studies

It is strongly recommended that these candidates have also registered for L1 Digital Trials and have engaged with the familiarisation activities (familiarisation activity tool and last year’s digital examinations) provided by NZQA.

Level 2 Pilots are available, as follows:

  • Level 2 Classical Studies
  • Level 2 English
  • Level 2 Media Studies

Level 2 Digital Pilots are available only to candidates who have registered for and complete L2 Digital Trials this year, and completed a L1 Digital Pilot in 2017 in the equivalent subject.

In addition, it is strongly recommended that these candidates have engaged with the familiarisation activities (familiarisation tool and last year’s digital examinations) provided by NZQA.

NZQA will provide schools with a report on their students’ participation in the familiarisation activity tool and relevant digital assessments from the previous year before the Digital Pilot examinations start.

Level 3 Pilots are available, as follows:

  • Level 3 Classical Studies
  • Level 3 English
  • Level 3 Media Studies

Level 3 Digital Pilots are available only to candidates who have registered for and complete L3 Digital Trials this year, and completed a L2 Digital Pilot in 2017 in the equivalent subject.

NZQA’s review of candidates who sat Digital Pilot examinations over the past two years has indicated that these candidates had a better experience if they had completed a Digital Trial using the same examination platform.

Q. If we enter into Digital Trial and Pilot examinations, is it possible to opt out or remove some students at a later date?

A. Schools can opt out at any time by emailing future.state@nzqa.govt.nz

For individual students:
- students can opt out of their digital examination at any point, and for any reason, but they must complete any standard they have started (either digitally, or on paper) and will not receive additional time to do so
- if students experience technical issues, they can transfer to paper at any point, and will receive any time lost at the end of the examination - the amount of time will be at the discretion of the supervisor. If, due to a technical issue, students have completed a standard partially digitally and partially on paper, both sections will be marked by the same marker.

Available standards

Q. Are all external standards available for the Digital Trials and Pilots examinations?

A. Students sitting Digital Trial and Pilot examinations will have access to all standards within a digital session, regardless of whether they are entered for these or not. During the Trials, if teachers do not wish students to complete certain standards, this should be communicated to the students before they sit the digital examination.

Q. Can a student sit the same Level 1 Science Trial in June and also in the September/October window?

A. Students may only attempt each standard of the three in the Science trial once, whether they are sat under examination conditions or used as a classroom exercise. However, they do not need to attempt all three in the one session – they may, for example, attempt one in June and the other two in September.

Preparation for digital examinations: Familiarisation Activities

In preparation for Digital Trials and Pilots, NZQA highly recommends that schools and students use the Familiarisation Activities.

Q. What are the Familiarisation Activities?

A. There are two types of activities that can be used for familiarisation.

- Familiarisation Activity Tool

Registered students will be given access to the Familiarisation Activity Tool. This tutorial is a hands-on introduction to digital examinations. It navigates through the structure of a digital examination, from logging in to submitting an examination, and includes tutorials on how to use the features found in digital examinations as described above. This activity does not include assessment material and student responses will not be saved.

- Previous years’ digital examinations

The digital examinations from previous years also provide an opportunity to experience the look and feel of the digital examinations. Schools can use these to trial setting up a digital examination situation. The previous digital examinations will also assist schools to evaluate their network capability.

Q. I have found the previous digital examinations, but am not sure how to access them, as they require a password. Could you please let me know where to find these?

A. The password for the previous digital examinations can be found in your secure extranet. Look for a yellow banner at the top once you have logged in (see the example below). Speak to your Principal’s Nominee regarding access to the secure extranet.

Login example v2

Q. How many times can a student log in?

A.  Students can log in to the previous digital examinations as many times as they wish.

Q. Can teachers use the previous digital examinations as a classroom exercise, marking and giving feedback?

A. The previous digital examinations are not designed to be an examination – their main purpose is to enable students and teachers to familiarise themselves with the format being used, and to experience the look and feel of a digital examination. Students can access the previous digital examinations multiple times; note that student responses cannot be printed and once they log out or exit the Familiarisation Activities their responses will not be saved. 

Q. Can Familiarisation Activities results be used for derived grades?

A. The previous examinations are based on the 2016 and 2017 examinations and therefore cannot be used for derived grade purposes.

Q. Are there any resources other than the Familiarisation Activities that can help students and teachers prepare for the digital examinations?

A. A series of help videos is available that guide students and teachers through some of the different tools they will encounter in the digital examinations.  You can access them here.

During the assessment

Q. If we have a technical issue affecting all students involved in a Pilot examination, would the school have access to a hard copy of the assessment for distribution to all students?

A. The school will be provided with personalised examination papers that can be given to students in specific circumstances. A set of scenarios will be provided to Exam Centre Managers at their training to guide decision-making as to when to use the paper examinations. These scenarios will also be provided to Principal's Nominees.

Q. If a particular student has technical issues and cannot complete a digital examination, can the Principal's Nominee apply for a derived grade (providing valid evidence is available against the Assessment Standard)?

A. In this scenario, the student would be able to use the paper-based examination. If, however, there was an issue with both the digital and paper version, an application could be made for a derived grade.
If an emergency occurs, and all candidates are unable to return to the examination room, their digital work will be submitted and the Principal’s Nominee will apply for derived grades.

Q. Can students complete the standards in any order?

A. Yes, students have the ability to start on any standard and move between the questions and pages of each standard freely.

Exam invigilation

Q. Can students access their hard drives or other websites during the digital examinations?

A. The Digital Pilot examinations include anti-breach software that tracks students’ movement during the examination.  If students try to leave the examination window, they will see a warning message prompting them to re-enter the examination.  If this message is ignored, the students will become locked out of the examination and will need to ask the examination supervisor to unlock the examination for them, at which point a special report will be completed by the supervisor.

The Digital Trial examinations do not have anti-breach software. If schools are intending to use a Digital Trial examination as a practice examination, they will need to invigilate the Digital Trial examinations to ensure students do not access any materials outside of the digital examination.

Post-assessment/Marking

Q. Will teachers be provided with a marking assessment schedule since they have to mark the trials?

A. NZQA will be providing an assessment schedule for the Digital Trial examinations to Principal’s Nominees.

Q. How long will it take for the assessments to be marked?

A. The marking and delivery of results of the Pilot examinations will be the same as for the paper-based cycle.

Schools will be responsible for the marking of the Trial examinations and the delivery of results and will therefore set their own marking programme.

Special Assessment Conditions (SAC)

Q. How will the digital assessments cater for students who have trouble reading text online?

A. The digital examinations have a built-in zoom to enable students to vary the size of the screen.

Q. Will SAC candidates have access to Spellcheck in the digital examination?

A. Spellcheck will be available for all candidates in the following subjects:
 - English (Trial and Pilot)
 - Media Studies (Trial and Pilot)
 - Classical Studies (Trial and Pilot)

Spellcheck will not be available in the Science Trial. This is due to the required use of scientific language when responding to questions in these subjects. Candidates will not have access to spellcheck to ensure they have the best experience in this subject.

Q. Is any additional or alternative SAC support being considered?

A. As part of NZQA’s goal to have all NCEA examinations available online by 2020, more accessibility tools will be sought to support students requiring SAC so that they can complete digital examinations.

Use of headphones

Q. Do students need headphones for the Trials and Pilots?

A. Students will require headphones for the following Trial, as these will include audio and/or video content:
- Level 1 Science

Only wired headphones can be used for the examinations (as students could potentially use wireless headphones to access other devices without anyone knowing).
The Pilot examinations do not require headphones.

Queries and feedback

If you have any queries about the 2018 Digital Trials and Pilots, please email future.state@nzqa.govt.nz or contact your School Relationship Manager.

Page last updated 5 June 2018

 
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