Digital exams

NZQA is changing how students can do their NCEA exams – from hand-written papers, to online, using a device. This reflects the way students already interact with the world and how they are doing much of their learning, helping prepare them for their next steps after school.

Watch the video below to get an overview of what the digital interface looks like. 

Digital exams student checklist

Sitting a digital exam? Make sure you're prepared by using our digital exams student checklist (PDF, 161KB)

Have a play

Doing any exams digitally this year? The hands on activities below will help you become familiar with the exam interface so you’ll know that to expect on exam day.

Digital exam run through

Computer digital exams page

Digital exam practice

 This practice activity is a hands-on introduction to digital exams. It navigates through the structure of a digital exam and includes tutorials on how to use the features found in digital exams.

This activity does not include assessment material and student responses will not be saved.

 To find digitised versions of last year’s exams, you can search these in the student exam hub or by going to the subject resources page. Responses will not be saved in the digital past exams. 

Individual activities highlighting specific features can also be found below.

prepare and navigate Exam features new Alerts new Language keyboard new translated exams
and prepare
 Alerts you
may get
keyboard check
 Translated exams


Getting schools ready for digital exams

Technical and digital exam support requirements for schools can be found here.

Common questions

Where can I find my login details for a digital exam?

You will login to your digital exam using the same login details you use to access your student login.

As part of preparing for digital exams, you should create an account at if you don't have one already, or check your username and password. 

You will be able to access your digital exam from the NZQA homepage or the student exam hub by clicking on the access banner which will be displayed during the exam period. 


What do I need to bring on the day of my exam?

You will need to bring:

  • your NCEA candidate admission slip. You will be given this in Term 4
  • pens (black and blue colours are permitted) in case you need to switch to paper and a pencil and eraser for note taking
  • emergency evacuation pack: clear, sealable plastic bag containing mobile phone (switched off), watch (alarms and notifications switched off), keys, money, bus pass and medicines
  • your BYOD device, if you will be using this for the exam. It needs to be fully charged and checked to make sure it meets the specifications for a digital exam.(a power bank for your device may also be stored in your emergency pack).

What if I can’t log in?

Let your exam supervisor know if you can’t log in. They will help you and contact technical support, if required. 

You can log into your exam up to 30 minutes before the exam start time. If you try to access your exam prior to this, you will receive an error message. You can’t see the content of the exam until your exam supervisor gives you access.

What if I decide not to do the exam online on the day?

You can choose to move to paper at any time before or during the exam.

If you have started a standard online, you're encouraged to complete the standard digitally before moving to the next standard on paper. If you choose to switch to paper, the rest of the exam must be completed on paper. You will not be able to switch back to the digital exam.

Will I still get a resource booklet?

Some exams will include a separate booklet of resource material. If your exam includes resource material in a separate booklet, your exam supervisor will give this to you.

Can I do a standard digitally that I'm not entered into?

Yes, you can add do an additional standard that you are not entered for. Raise your hand and let your supervisor know - they will add the standard to the digital exam platform. 

If the standard has a resource booklet, the supervisor will give this to you. 

Can I take notes using a pen/pencil and paper?

Yes, you can ask for paper to take notes during your exam from your supervisor. You can also take notes in the digital exam platform.

The supervisor will collect your note paper at the end of the exam. You should bring a pen and pencil to your exam, for note taking and in case you need to switch to a paper version of your exam.

What happens if my device stops working during an exam?

If your device stops working during a digital exam, you will not be disadvantaged.

All responses will have been saved and the you can resume the exam on another device as required. If no other device is available, the exam supervisor will assist you with moving to a paper exam.

They will also note any time you lost while a solution to the issue was found and give you additional time at the end of the exam to make up for this.

What happens if my device loses connection during an exam?

If you have lost connection, a pop-up screen will alert you if you try to move between pages.

Don’t worry! Raise your hand and the supervisor and technical support staff will help you.

Don’t refresh or close your browser. Once connection is established again, the supervisor can confirm that your work has been saved.

What if I have a problem with the online exam that can’t be resolved quickly?

You can switch to paper. You do not need to copy what you have completed so far onto the paper exam as this will be saved on the exam software server.

If you are not able to work while your supervisor and technical support will look for a solution you will be given additional time at the end of the exam to make up for time lost and ensure you have three hours to complete the exam.

What happens if I move away from the exam window?

If you attempt to move away from the exam or try to access other areas of your device, you’ll get a warning message. If you do not return to the exam immediately, you’ll be locked out of the exam.

To ensure you are not locked out by mistake, ensure your screensaver, notifications and automatic updates are disabled.

The supervisor can unlock the exam but may need to report the possible breach to NZQA.

Can I copy content from source texts and ‘paste’ it into my responses?

You can copy and paste from within the digital exam software for example, copy and pasting the resources or moving your work into different text boxes.

However you cannot copy and paste from outside sources.

If you attempt to move away from the exam browser, you may be locked out of the digital exam platform.

How often is my work saved?

Your work is saved every 30 seconds and when moving between standards.

It is stored in the cloud service of the exam software provider for access by NZQA.

Can I change the font sizes of my response, for example if I have trouble reading text on screen?

You cannot change the font size of your response, however you can use the zoom in/out keyboard function to increase the size of the digital exam content and easily read your responses.

Can I use different languages when I'm answering a digital exam?

Yes, you will be able to use a different language, as appropriate for the subject, by switching the Language Keyboards.  You need to ensure you have the language keyboard software packs downloaded and fully enabled prior to entering the exam.  

We strongly suggest having practiced this language switching on the device you intend to use for your digital examination before the examinations. 

As with paper exams, you can answer your exams in English or Te Reo Māori, if the exam allows it. A list of subjects that can be answered in Te Reo Māori can be found here.

Can I use shortcut keys in a digital exam?

You can use certain shortcut keys in a digital exam. Shortcuts available and what they do are in the table below.

Other shortcuts will be disabled, to reduce the likelihood of you losing work or accidentally navigating away from the exam browser.


Shortcut Keys

What it does


Select everything on a page.






Copy selected text


Find text on page


Paste selected text


Cut selected text


Return to default page magnification setting (100%)


Mark as Bold


Mark as Italics



Ctrl/Cmd+(- or +)

Zoom in or out of a page, "-" will zoom out and "+" will zoom in on the page.


Toggle between adding text and overwriting text 


Will digital exam answers be available for students to view?

Results for 2020 exams will be available in January 2021. Shortly after results are released, students will be able to view their completed digital exam scripts on NZQA’s website using their student login account details, until 30 June 2021.

What are the specifications for Bring Your Own Devices?

Quickly check if your device meets the specifications for a digital exam by using our Digital exams device check

If you are using your own device for your digital exam, make sure the device is a laptop or Chromebook.

Touch screen portable devices can only be used if they have physically attached keyboards. Students using on-screen keyboards will be locked out of the exam by the security mechanisms in the software.

Make sure:

  • the operating system is

        • Microsoft Windows 8.1,10+
          Apple Mac OS 10.14+
          Chrome OS

  • The device has one of the following browsers installed

        • Google Chrome, version 85+
        • Safari (Mac), version 11+
  • notifications, screensavers and automatic updates have been disabled
  • you’ve set screen resolution to minimum 1366 x 768 pixels
  • the browser is set to full screen mode
  • it’s virus free
  • it’s fully charged and can last the duration of the assessment

Note: Your school may not be able to provide plugs for power cables in your exam room, so it’s important that your device is fully charged before going into an exam.

Power banks can be used in the exam room. Your power bank must be stored in your sealed emergency evacuation pack under your desk. If you need to use it, ask your supervisor. Power banks with wireless capability and/or memory storage capacity will not be allowed. If you bring these devices into the exam room it will constitute a breach of exam rules.


What data will NZQA collect during a digital exam?

By sitting a digital exam, you are agreeing that NZQA can collect and keep digital data about your exam activity. This activity data may include, but is not limited to:

  • Your mouse movements and clicks
  • Any screen information
  • Any times you are locked out
  • All saved versions of your answers.

NZQA will keep this data safe and not share it in any way that could identify you. NZQA may use it to identify possible breaches of the rules or improve future exam design.

Using the contact form on the NZQA website you may request a copy of your screen information, the times you were locked out, and your end state answers.  For security reasons relating to identifying breaches and unlawful activity, NZQA does not provide copies of your mouse movements and clicks, or progressively saved versions of your answers prior to the end state answer.

If you do not agree to NZQA collecting and keeping this data you need to tell your Principal's Nominee. You should not sit an exam digitally.

Note: This message will also be displayed on the exam software before you enter the exam. You can choose to switch to paper at any point before or during your digital exam.


The digital exam experience

We visited Paraparaumu College and Rongotai College in October 2018 to speak to students and staff about their experience with digital exams. Below are some video highlights from these discussions.

What students liked

 Why schools participated



Skip to main page content Accessibility page with list of access keys Home Page Site Map Contact Us