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Rules for personal computers

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A personal computer may be approved for students whose disability prevents them from independently communicating their responses in a handwritten format, and there is strong medical evidence that the student’s writing difficulty cannot be addressed with any alternative provision, such as a writer or rest breaks.

A student who has approval to use a personal computer must use ExamWriter for their examination responses unless an exception has been granted. 

Before examinations, ExamWriter instructions and access information will be sent to schools that have a student approved a computer.

What types of personal computers can be used?

  • Either a notebook or desktop computer, provided by the school and cleared of any subject-related materials.
  • If a notebook is used, the student should be seated near a power point if possible and the notebook plugged in.
  • If a power point is not close, the battery must be fully charged before the start of each examination, as a flat battery will not be considered grounds for illness/misadventure.

Setting up computers and seating

Computers must be set up in the examination room by school staff and ready for use before the examination starts. Students are not permitted access to the computer before examinations begin.

All students approved to use a personal computer are automatically given small group supervision. The supervisor should sit where they can see the screen, without intimidating or distracting the students.

Setting out and answering exams

When answering exam questions, students must type the section number and question number at the top of every page. Students with approval to use software other than ExamWriter must also type their student number, centre number and examination name at the top of every page (or in the page header).

Multiple-choice questions

The question number should be put on the far left of the page, followed by a full stop, followed by a short space, followed by the student's answer, for example:

  1. A
  2. C
  3. B

Short answer questions

The setting out depends on the way the questions are organised.
For example

  1. $32.50
  2. 64%
  3. 78km


  1. The Asian economic crisis
  2. (i) diversification
    (ii) development of new markets
  3. The union movement

Essay questions

Students should put the question number at the top of the page. A new item/page should be started for each essay.

Language examinations

In language examinations, the following rules apply.

Students can:

  • type in English
  • change the keyboard to type any response in a non-character based language, such as French or Modern Greek.

Students cannot:

  • type in a character based language, such as Chinese or Japanese where using a keyboard provides the student with character options or associated words from which to choose.

Suspicious behaviour

If a supervisor notices a student opening another file or document, or transferring information from a pre-existing file or document into their answers, then the supervisor should ask the student to move back from the computer.

If the unauthorised material is still open on the computer, the supervisor must take a photograph of the screen with assistance from the presiding officer or school staff if necessary. All unauthorised documents or programs must then be closed.

If the student is seen using an external storage device such as a USB flash drive or memory card, the device should be confiscated immediately.

The student should be warned not to access any other file or page other than their examination responses again, and permitted to continue with the exam. The supervisor must make a detailed record of what was observed and the time at which it occurred.

At the conclusion of the examination, the supervisor and/or presiding officer should follow the procedures for Breach of Examination Rules/Malpractice. Any storage devices that were confiscated must be sent to NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) with the Breach of Examination Rules/Malpractice paperwork.

Students not using ExamWriter

If students are unable to use ExamWriter in one or more courses, they need to get permission from NESA to use another word processor, and include evidence to show why ExamWriter is not feasible.

In these approved cases, the student's access to functions must be limited to those that can be replicated by handwriting.

Students can:

  • cut and