Get your school ready for digital exams

Check out the information on this page for Principal’s Nominees, teachers and technical support people to get ready for NCEA Online digital exams.

Students can look at digital exam information, familiarisation activities and common questions so they know what to expect here digital exam preparation for students.

Common questions for schools:

Digital exam subjects

What NCEA Online subjects are available in 2021?

For end of year exams, we’re offering 24 NCEA subjects digitally, over 67 sessions, across levels 1-3 (unless noted):

Agricultural & Horticultural Science

Art History

Business Studies

Chinese

Classical Studies

Education for Sustainability (L2 only)

English

French

German

Health

History

Home Economics

Japanese

Latin (L1 & 2 only)

Media Studies

Psychology (Level 3 only)

Samoan

Social Studies

Spanish

Te Reo Māori

Te Reo Rangatira

Lea Faka-Tongan

Cook Islands Māori Korean

You can also check out the National secondary examinations timetable for the list of subjects offered digitally.

Entries

How do I opt into digital exams?

Ensure the planned digital external entries are flagged as digital in your SMS.  Digital entries can be checked in the Key Indicators page of your Provider Login.

Submitting digital external entries to NZQA means that you’ll be automatically provisioned for both the practice exams subjects and end of year exams.

Special assessment conditions

Can students with a Special Assessment Condition (SAC) sit a digital exam?

Yes, students with a SAC entitlement can sit a digital exam.

As a school, you should consider the resources you will need to plan for a SAC student sitting a digital exam. For example, you’ll need to plan the appropriate space, supervisors, and exam assistants.

You can find more information about this on the Special Assessment Conditions page.

Can the background colour be changed for SAC students who need a different colour to help them read?

No, the supervision software means the digital exam becomes locked if browser extensions are used.

SAC students should talk through their needs and preferences with their schools.

Technical

Do students use their own devices or are school devices preferable?

Students can use their own device or a school device. There are pros and cons for both. The most important thing is that students use a device they are familiar with.

Bring your own device (BYOD) students are familiar with their own device. If they are using their own device the students need to be supported to ensure they are set up correctly for exams. More information can be found on the digital exams device check page.

School computers could be available as a backup and access to power outlets for recharging between exams would be useful, especially for those with two exams in a day.

Do schools need to supply a device for digital exam supervisors?

Yes, schools will need to provide a device for digital exam supervisors. Supervisors need to access the supervisor dashboard to monitor students’ digital exam activity.

A Chromebook is fine for a smaller exam session of fewer than 20 students.  For bigger cohorts, a larger screen is recommended so the supervisors can more easily view and monitor the greater number of students.

Is it compulsory to have whitelisting this year for digital language exams?

For a secure, authentic and positive experience, we recommend the use of whitelisting for digital language exams. This limits student access only to the digital exam platform and NZQA’s website.

So that this doesn’t affect the rest of the school or kura, you’ll need to separate the network traffic for students sitting digital exams from the rest of your network traffic. This can be done in different ways depending on your setup, such as setting up a virtual local area network (VLAN).

Can LanSchool software or “incognito” browsers affect the invigilation software in a digital exam?

No, we haven’t identified any VPNs or incognito browsers that affect the exam invigilation software in a digital exam.

We recommend disabling all background software to ensure it does not interfere with the exam invigilation software.

We also recommend that, where possible, your school has a VLAN set up for the digital exams, and use whitelisting of the exam URL and NZQA website.

For more information look at our Check school infrastructure webpage.

Downloadable resources

School experiences with digital exams

We spoke with Principal's Nominees at schools who did one or more digital exams in 2019 to find out more about their experiences with digital exams. Below are some highlights from those discussions.

Alan Robertson, Burnside High School

Dionne Thomas, Karamu High School

David Lowe, Taipa Area School

 Why schools participated in digital exam trials (2018)

Where to get support

We’re here to support your school provide digital exams to students. If you have questions, please: 

  • contact your school relationship manager by phone or email
  • email us at ncea.online@nzqa.govt.nz
  • call our Contact Centre on 0800 697 296. 
 
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