Assessment arrangements FAQ

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Assessment arrangements

Information on the most common questions about assessment arrangements, such as adapted question papers and extra time.

Assessment Arrangements Request (AAR) system

Information on how to access and use the Assessment Arrangements Request (AAR) system.

Evidence

Information on different forms of evidence used for assessment arrangements and when they are required.

English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Information on assessment arrangement guidelines and rules for learners whose first language is not English (EAL).

Miscellaneous

Some common questions on assessment arrangements which are not specific to any particular topic.

Assessment arrangements

How can I obtain adapted materials for assignments or portfolios?

SQA can also provide adapted versions of coursework assessment tasks for Administration and IT and Accounting on request. These requests must be submitted to SQA by e-mail to aarequests@sqa.org.uk. Please do not request these adaptions through the AAR system.

My candidate is colour-blind, and some question papers contain colour content; is an adapted question paper available?

Exam question papers can be modified if there is colour content. See guidance for this in the following resource: Additional Guidance for Requesting Adapted Question Papers and Artwork through AAR (2.59 MB).

Where can I find guidance on adapted question papers?

You can find this information in the following resource: Additional Guidance for Requesting Adapted Question Papers and Artwork through AAR (2.59 MB).

Can a candidate use a calculator in a Mathematics non-calculator exam paper?

If candidates have a problem in Maths such as dyscalculia, sequencing problems, visual problems, short term, and long-term memory problems and if using calculator enables these candidates to bypass their difficulties, then the use of a basic non-scientific calculator in the non-calculator maths paper would be allowed.

Is there any guidance available on digital question papers?

Further information on the use of digital question papers can be located on page 14 of the Assessment Arrangement Explained (332 KB) document.

How much extra time can we provide to a candidate in an exam?

The amount of extra time required may vary according to the candidate’s individual needs. There must be appropriate evidence indicating the impact of the candidate’s disability on their ability to complete tasks in a specified time and that a specific amount of extra time is appropriate.

If a candidate gets extra time in an exam, can they also have this arrangement for classroom and pre-exam coursework?

If a candidate is identified as requiring extra time in an internal assessment, you only need to seek approval from SQA for any assessments where the performance of a task in a specified time is an actual assessment requirement.

I have a candidate who has limited mobility due to their difficulty. Can someone assist with using, for example, an ordnance survey map?

As long as your centre has evidence to support the need, a practical helper could be requested for health and safety reasons - the helper would be able to fetch, carry and hold steady equipment at the explicit instructions of the candidate. Further information and guidance can be located in the Assessment Arrangement Explained (332 KB) document.

My candidate uses a prompter in class due to their difficulty. Would this be allowed in an exam?

Yes, a member of staff may act as a prompter to keep the candidate’s attention on task. The member of staff must not communicate with the candidate in relation to the production of any exam work. No advice must be given regarding which questions to answer, in which order the questions should be answered etc. The member of staff must not be the class teacher in the subject concerned or a relative who has a vested interest in the success of the candidate.

Can anyone act as a reader for a candidate in SQA exams?

The reader cannot be the class teacher in the subject concerned or a relative who has a vested interest in the success of the candidate. Also, there should not be any conversation between the candidate and the reader.

Are candidates allowed to take breaks during an exam?

Rest periods and supervised breaks are permitted during a timed assessment. The time taken for the break does not count towards the time allowed for the assessment concerned. It is the centre's responsibility to supervise the candidate if they are out of the room. This is not the invigilator’s responsibility.

Is it possible to have several candidates, who require to be in separate accommodation, in the same room?

Yes, as long as no other assessment arrangements are in place that may cause a distraction, for example, a reader, scribe or prompter. However, having a small number of candidates using ICT or who just need that separate accommodation is acceptable.

Would my candidate be permitted to use a spell-checker in an exam?

Yes, if your candidate has a significant spelling difficulty, the use of ICT with or without spellchecker can be requested through the AAR system.

Are candidates allowed to use text-to-speech/speech recognition software in SQA exams?

Yes, speech recognition software can be used in examinations and assessments (including National 3 and 4 Literacy units and National courses in English). However, it is not allowed in the assessment of writing in Modern Languages and Gaelic (Learners).

Where can I find exam support forms?

You can find exam support forms at https://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/8421.html.

Assessment Arrangements Request (AAR) system

How do I request assessment arrangements?

Each year in October, SQA will send an email to all SQA co-ordinators containing a user ID and security code which are required to register on the AAR system. You must keep this information securely as you will need them for setting your centre’s secure password, logging into the system, and any future password changes. To access AAR, please visit aar.sqainfo.net.

How do I see which requests I have already entered?

On logging in, the Assessment Arrangements main menu will display a number of options whereby you can run reports, create new requests, and update existing requests etc.

What is the final date for submitting assessment arrangement requests?

The system for submitting requests will provisionally open on 25 October 2021. This date, and the final date for requests will be confirmed in the 2021-22 Key Dates publication. You can also access updates that we publish regarding the AAR system (e.g., submission date deadlines) from the Information menu on the login page. Please check the Information section each time you access AAR.

Evidence

Do I need to provide a medical certificate?

We do not ask for a medical certificate as supporting evidence for granting assessment arrangements. However, if this has been provided by the candidate or parent/carer, then you can include this in the evidence. Your evidence of need for candidates requiring support should involve detailed records of need for each candidate and part of this evidence would include information and evidence from subject teachers about support needed and given in class. Further information relating to quality assurance can be found on our dedicated Quality Assurance page.

Is there any guidance on collating evidence for putting an assessment arrangement in place?

Guidance on evidence needed to support a request for an assessment arrangement, with examples of good practice and evidence requirements, which should help if SQA carries out a quality assurance visit, can be found on our Quality Assurance page.

English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Can we translate SQA exam papers into another language for candidates whose first language is not English?

Under our current policy, we do not allow the translation of examinations into a candidate's first language, neither would a candidate be able to write in their first language and have this translated into English. Questions in SQA examination question papers are carefully set and worded in a particular way to elicit a particular response from the candidate. SQA could not be sure that the translation of any question was conveyed to the candidate in the same way as it had been written.

Where can I locate the EAL spreadsheet?

If a candidate requires the use of a bilingual dictionary for SQA examinations, you must submit a request by using the EAL spreadsheet. You can download this from the SQA Secure website by clicking on NQ then Assessment Arrangements and completing the fields on the spreadsheet, which is then sent to eal.requests@sqa.org.uk. There is guidance on completing the spreadsheet on the same page. Further details on the use of bilingual dictionaries can be found in the following resource: Use of a bilingual dictionary for candidates who have English as an additional language (164 KB).

If my candidate does not use a dictionary in an exam, can they still have 10 minutes per hour extra time?

EAL candidates are allowed 10 minutes extra time per hour for the use of a bilingual dictionary in the external examination. If the candidate does not require the use of a dictionary the extra time is not permitted.

Are there any exams in which the use of a dictionary is not permitted?

The bilingual dictionary is not permitted in external examinations in English, ESOL or the candidate’s first language. Further details can be found in the following resource: Use of a bilingual dictionary for candidates who have English as an additional language (164 KB).

How do I request the use of a dictionary/10 minutes per hour extra time?

If a candidate requires the use of a bilingual dictionary for SQA examinations, you must submit a request by using the EAL spreadsheet. You can download this from the SQA Secure website by clicking on NQ then Assessment Arrangements and completing the fields on the spreadsheet, which is then sent to eal.requests@sqa.org.uk. There is guidance on completing the spreadsheet on the same page. Further details on the use of bilingual dictionaries can be found in the following resource: Use of a bilingual dictionary for candidates who have English as an additional language (164 KB).

What type of dictionary is permitted to a candidate whose first language is not English?

The dictionaries permitted are English/first language (word for word) dictionaries that do not contain explanations or definitions of words or phrases. It is the centre’s responsibility, prior to the examination, to check that the dictionaries to be used by candidates are clean copies of English/first language (word for word) dictionaries. Further information can be found in the following resource: Use of a bilingual dictionary for candidates who have English as an additional language (164 KB).

Miscellaneous

Is there any flexibility in starting an exam earlier or later than the official start time?

Yes, centres are permitted to change the start times of examinations up to 30 minutes before or after the official start time without seeking approval from SQA. If you need to adjust the times by more than this, you will need to provide us with details of the proposed changes to the timetable. You can find the Request for Change of Timetable form on the SQA website.

Can a candidate use an English dictionary in SQA exams?

No, candidates are not permitted the use of an English dictionary in SQA examinations. In the case of a candidate who has English as an additional language, a bi-lingual dictionary (word for word, with no explanations) can be used - except in English, ESOL or an examination in the candidate’s first language.

My candidate has very poor handwriting, but no other difficulties. What arrangements can I put in place for them?

Centres are advised that if a candidate's writing is illegible and a marker would have difficulty in deciphering the candidate's writing, then the candidate should use ICT in their exams. You can download the Non-AA ICT spreadsheet from the SQA Secure website by clicking on NQ then Assessment Arrangements and completing it using Microsoft Excel.

Where can I find copies of past exam papers for my candidates?

You can find past exam papers using our past papers tool on the SQA website.

A candidate has an injury which may affect their exam performance. What should I do?

Temporary disability arrangements for internal assessments do not need to be requested with SQA unless you feel that the provision of these arrangements may compromise the integrity of the assessment. If arrangements are required for an external examination, please contact the assessment arrangements team by email at aarequests@sqa.org.uk.

My candidate has no recognised difficulties; can they still use ICT in SQA exams?

Candidates who do not have additional support needs may use ICT without spellchecker in an external exam provided the centre has requested this arrangement with SQA and the strict conditions as detailed in the SQA Coordinator’s Guide have been followed. There should be no connection to Internet or any networks.