Exams now allow for the use of computer software and digital examination papers to assist students with special needs. This means that Claro Software can help you set and take exams.
Briefing: Using Computer Readers in Exams (2016):
Claro Software and Exams
Claro Software’s ClaroRead, ClaroPDF and Claro ScanPen programs can be used as computer readers, enabling users to work independently and with confidence using text-to-speech to review their work or listen (as many times as they like) to question papers. ClaroRead Plus can also be used to convert inaccessible scanned images and PDFs into accessible text so you can make your exam papers suitable for use by computer readers.
Note that there is no “Approved List” of software which may be used: you are responsible for complying with the requirements set by the examination authority and are otherwise free to choose to use ClaroRead, ClaroPDF or ScanPen so long as you do so comply. Contact us if you need to match your regulations with our software, we’ll be happy to help.
We recommend that all students receive assistive software during their course and prior to examinations, so they have experience and understanding of how the reader technology can assist them during learning and examinations.
Setting up digital exams
The type of software allowed in exams varies from exam board to exam board (and from country/state to country/state): you should contact your examination authority for definitive information. However, the following information should be a useful start, especially for UK schools and universities.
- The CALL Scotland group at Edinburgh University are experts in digital exams and have developed a dedicated site: Adapted Digital Exams.
- The Joint Council for Qualifications represents most of the English exam boards (SQA, AQA, OCR, Edexcel, City & Guilds) and has extensive information on digital exams, particularly the latest Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments document. Here is an excerpt from the 2014-2015 version:
5.5.2 Computer software which accurately reads out text, (including synthetic speech software stored on a memory stick) but does not decode or interpret the paper, may be used as a computer reader.
A computer reader will be allowed in papers (or sections of papers) testing reading.
In cases where a computer reader is unable to recognise and thus read an individual word, a reader may read out the particular word to the candidate.
Where an application for a computer reader is approved, the centre is permitted to open the question paper packet one hour before the published starting time for the examination. This is only and specifically to allow the centre to scan the hard copy question paper into an accessible electronic format. Any infringement has the potential to constitute malpractice.
Alternatively, where an application for a computer reader is approved, it is strongly recommended that the centre orders a non-interactive electronic question paper (see section 6.7, page 80).
- The British Dyslexia Association Technology Committee has extensive Examinations resources featuring examples, issues and software.
- The Jisc education technology charity has published two guides on guidance for exam centres and on using Adobe Reader for exams.
Using ClaroPDF and Claro ScanPen in Exams
Two of our iPad Apps are particularly useful in exams.
ClaroPDF for iPad and iPhone
ClaroPDF reads back exam papers in PDF format with high-quality speech.
If your exam is a PDF form – that is, it has boxes in which you can type answers – then these can be completed with ClaroPDF too. If the PDF is not a form you can still use ClaroPDF’s annotation features to “typewrite” onto the exam paper.
Most schools will simply use ClaroPDF to enable students to read back questions in accessible PDF versions of exams.
ClaroPDF does not come with a spellcheck function, dictionary or grammar lookup. It does not require an Internet connection to work, and can be put into iOS Guided Access mode, restricting the user from using any other iOS App or device function.
ClaroPDF does not come with a spellcheck function, dictionary or grammar lookup.
Claro ScanPen for iPad and iPhone
Claro ScanPen lets you take a picture of an exam paper and instantly select text on the paper to read it back. This is great if you do not have accessible PDF versions of an exam. There is no preparation required, because the App only does one page/photograph at a time, to keep it super-simple. The rapid and simple technique – photograph, select, hear – makes it great to use in exams when people are stressed and short of time.
Claro ScanPen does not come with a spellcheck function, dictionary or grammar lookup. It does not require an Internet connection to work, and can be put into iOS Guided Access mode, restricting the user from using any other iOS App or device function.
Using ClaroRead for PC in Exams
ClaroRead for Windows PC can read aloud digital exam papers (in Adobe Reader or Acrobat Reader DC) and read back users’ answers, so it is great for exams.
ClaroRead for PC also comes with spellcheck features, but these may be forbidden in some exams. Any school, college or university with a site licence of ClaroRead can obtain a copy of ClaroRead SE from us: ClaroRead SE does not have a built-in spellcheck, dictionary or grammar lookup so may be used in some exams where ClaroRead might not. We also provide ways to disable spellcheck in ClaroRead for invigilators and network administrators.
ClaroRead Plus and ClaroRead Pro can convert a scanned PDF image into an accessible PDF text file, and retain the original image layout of the document, so could be used in advance of a test to make an electronic accessible version of an exam paper.
Using Claro PDF BookReader for PC in Exams
Claro PDF BookReader for Windows PC can read aloud digital exam papers without needing Adobe Reader and read back users’ answers, so it is great for exams. It does not come with a spellcheck function, dictionary or grammar lookup. It does not require an Internet connection.