Getting ready for digital exams

This information is relevant to 2019 exams and will be updated for 2020. 

This page provides the technical and digital exam support requirements schools must consider before participating in digital exams. To download a PDF of the Getting ready for digital exams guide click here (PDF, 1.5MB).

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Prepare students

Learn how to help your students to have a good digital exam experience here.

Managing SAC entitlements

Find a guide to providing Special Assessment Conditions for Digital exams here.


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Internet capacity

How to check if your school’s internet connection has the coverage and bandwidth for digital exams. Click here.

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Prepare exam rooms

Providing the right rooms for digital exams has some specific requirements as shown here.


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Most laptops and desk top devices can be used for digital exams but they need to be set up correctly. Find out more to here.


Common questions

How are student login details created?

For a student to have login details created for their online exam, your school will need to ensure they are entered in at least one digital exam. Once entered, their verification code will be created and this information will be on their admission slip. Exam supervisors will also be able to see students’ verification codes from their supervisor dashboard.

What information is collected during a digital exam and where is it saved?

NZQA is collecting digital activity data to monitor exams and to improve future exam design. This includes mouse movements and clicks, screen information and any time a student is locked out of the exam software. This information is additional to what NZQA already collects for paper exams such as NSN numbers, student names and school.

NZQA will delete the students’ exam responses following the review and reconsideration period. We will use anonymised data about students’ experience for our annual and multi-year analysis.

If students do not accept having their data collected and kept by NZQA, they will need to switch their exams to paper – they can switch at any point before or during an exam. By making sure students are aware of digital data collection in advance, they can make an informed decision before entering the exam room.

Data will only be collected while a device is connected to the assessment system. Once the student has completed the exam, no further information is collected by the exam software.

Data is saved in the cloud service of the exam software provider. No information collected during the exam is saved on the school’s server.

Does our school need to download the exam software?

No, the exam software is a cloud-based service. Your school needs to ensure there is sufficient bandwidth and coverage and the devices being used meet the requirements.

How is NZQA ensuring there is no privacy risk with the online exam software?

All data stored by the exam software provider is compliant with the NZ Information Security Manual for cloud-based services.

What happens if there is a widespread loss of connection during a digital exam?

A school’s devices may lose connection to the exam software if the internet connection in the school or the exam software provider’s server goes down. If your school loses internet connectivity your IT support should assist the Exam Centre Manager (ECM) and exam supervisors to troubleshoot this issue.

If the exam server goes down, NZQA will inform your ECM and work to have the server up and running as quickly as possible. If the server is not quickly restored, exam supervisors may choose to revert to paper exams. Students will not need to repeat the work they’ve already completed in the digital exam.

How can NZQA ensure students are not disadvantaged by a technical issue?

If there is a technical issue during the exam, NZQA has processes to ensure students are not disadvantaged, including students switching to paper or giving additional time to make up for time lost. Schools may also apply for an unexpected event grade.

When and how will marked digital exams be available?

Digital exam results will be available in January at the same time as paper-based results.  Shortly after results are released, candidates will be able to view their completed digital exams online.

How will students be prevented from navigating outside the digital exam?

Digital exams are set up to ensure students cannot access the internet and other information outside the exam. Text cannot be copied from outside the exam browser window. If a student navigates outside their exam window, they, and their supervisor, will receive a warning. They will be locked out of the exam if they continue.

What happens if the exam session needs to be extended?

An exam supervisor may extend the time of a digital exam a session to make up for time lost due to an unexpected event. The digital exam software will be remain open during the session extension. 

Can students access special assessment conditions for digital exams?

Yes. Eligible students can access a range of special assessment conditions including extra time, rest breaks, the use of assistive technology and other provisions. For more information on Special Assessment Conditions go here

Where to get support

NZQA is here to support your school provide digital exams to students. If you have questions about digital exams, get in touch. 

• Contact your school relationship manager by phone or email.

• Email us at

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