Irish Schools to Ditch Paper Based Exams for Digital Testing

Students studying for their Irish Leaving Certificate will complete their exams online. This is the latest measure by the Irish Government to bring their education inline with a technologically advanced workplace.

Computer science will be the first subject to have digital exams and completed online. Richard Bruton, education minister,  is convinced this is the future of exams and education generally;

“I’d say that is the direction we are heading. We want to ensure that digital technology transforms our education system and that we utilise the power of digital technology.”

“The ambition is to be the best in Europe within a decade. We are looking very clearly at the extent to which digital technology can transform assessment methods as well.

Digital testing is still a new idea for many education boards around the world. Experts remark that education is falling behind the pace of technological innovation in the workplace. This is failing to prepare students as a result.

Entire Courses Completed Online

All students will complete the entire course on Laptops including the course work and exams. The Irish Government hopes this will show a real commitment to digital learning.

Irish schools have recently introduced computer science as a subject. It seems this is an attempt to catch-up at an accelerated pace.

The course will offer programming, web building and social aspects of how technology impacts us today and in the future.

The challenge this change might present with out-of-date assets is a worry for schools. Making sure each student has sufficient access is also a concern and barrier.

Schools that have adequate resources to run the course will be able to teach it from 2020. This includes access to high speed broadband and a minimum processor threshold. The requirement of a ratio of one child to one computer ensures adequate access.

DesignATest is an online testing platform that is available to schools all over the world. If you want to start bringing technology into your classroom and get access to pre-made tests and courses it’s a great resource.

The platform allows you to create multiple choice tests and quizzes for your whole class. It also feeds back results instantly to student and teacher. Incorporate interactive graphs, videos and lots more:

Paper Exams: It’s a Numbers Game

Checkout THE Online Assessments

Research conducted on behalf of TES has revealed shocking results. The research predicts with great accuracy how many words students must write to get a good grade in English exams.

English teachers up and down the country will now be able to accurately answer the age old exam question;

‘How much do I need to write?!’

Extremely long answers don’t seem to deliver the best results and students have been able to attain good results with relatively short answers. It has emerged for GCSE English essays that there is a base of around 700 words to be in the top percentiles. However after 700 words grades either remain the same or begin to diminish. The study cites an example of two students who wrote in excess of 1200 words but only achieved a grade C in the essay. This is contrasted by a considerable group of pupils who were awarded an A* having only written around 400 words. You don’t need to strain your wrist to get the bests grades. It really is quality rather than quantity.


The research also revealed an absolute minimum to grade at all with papers of less than 200 words all being graded U. There is also a grade B threshold of 300 words; no papers under 300 words managed to get higher than B. On average the group of student who do achieve A*- B  write slightly longer answers. High quality condensed answers seem to be favoured by examiners.

Even for the longest essays, the average mark achieved by candidates never reached the top A* grade boundary. The research concluded that the best strategy is to write two pages of A4, with clear and accurate paragraphs. This statistically gives the pupil the best chance of being in the top percentiles.

However beyond the 700 word threshold there is no real correlation between grades and words written.

It is only now that we are able to gain insights like this, perhaps because of the techno-phobia of schools and examining bodies. The reality is that many children can type faster than they can write. We inhibit the child’s ability to achieve the best possible grade because of the medium we force them to do it in. English teachers always say;

“Your hand writing doesn’t matter that much as long as the examiner can read it.”

Researcher argue that hand writing bares little representation of academic ability. You may have been shocked by your GP’s or even solicitors hand writing, but you wouldn’t think them incompetent or incapable. This is not the case however for examiners. Whilst the examiner will try to extract what the child has written, they can be forgiven for not trying as hard once they have marked 300 identical papers. The vast majority of professional writing is typed, every  position now requires a high level of computer literacy. Like it or not, handwriting will become more of a novelty, as we swap pen and paper for smart phones and laptops. We should all work hard to make paper a thing of the past, there is a certain irony to cutting down trees to write biology questions about trees.

Online Assessment Creator

Online Assessment Creator

Now you can do your bit as well; why not set up class tests, quizzes and activities online. DesignaTest lets you set multiple choice and exam style questions and marks them automatically!


Generate Tests All Over The Globe

You can now generate online tests no matter where you are in the world. It is working wonders for developing countries.

Schools in the UK can help schools in the developing world by sharing their knowledge online. As we eek into an evermore globalised and connected world, the need for an international testing standard will only increase. A major problem for employers is that they now have job candidates from all over the world but struggle to assess the weight of an applicants qualifications.

One way to help the developing world is by sharing the bank of knowledge and resources we have in the west using new technologies. Some developing countries have standardised national exams, some do not, however it is now possible to share exams written by experts across the globe.

At DesignATest we have a test bank where teachers all around the globe can access exams written by renowned professionals. It also works in reverse in that teachers in developing countries can also share their exams. This offers insight into curriculum’s all around the world. It also allows teachers to generate online tests really quickly, and whit automatic marking their workload is halved.

The idea that a child could be doing the online test in London whilst at the same time a child could be sitting the same test in Nairobi is very exciting. As the internet finds it’s way to the remotest corners of the earth it is revolutionising education. Access to infinite information delivered in less than the blink of an eye with the input of keywords into Google. Young, old, rich and poor online learning continues to liberate people all around the world.

Generate online tests

We are in the infancy of something that is changing the world forever. It does however mean more competition in the workplace and it is important to prepare young people for the 21st century workplace. That is no longer a place of endless photocopying and handwritten documents. We’re all worried about AI taking over our jobs, why are we still insisting the bulk of education be done in analogue?

We don’t put ‘computer literacy’ as a skill on our CV’s it’s just expected for all professional positions. In this global market technological expertise is a bargaining chip.

The vast majority of staff in both Twitter and Facebook headquarters in San Francisco are not American. Tech companies struggle to recruit qualified people in the west. This is because of a reluctance to teach computing and internet based subjects.

Countries like India and China have simply surpassed the west in terms of technological expertise, and the clear focus on Mathematics in Asian education only compliments this.

Generate Online Tests

With DesignATest you can generate online tests, multiple choice quizzes  in minutes. You get access to a whole world of knowledge.

AQA Broke the Rules

Is it time to switch to online assessment creator? Exam providers the AQA has been forced to take action this week following reprimands from the qualifications regulator Ofqual, reports come amid a remarking scandal. The AQA  has admitted it did not follow remarking procedure correctly on many of its GCSE and A level papers.

The response from the AQA states that Ofqual “identified increases of marks and grades” from the 2017 GCSE and A level exams.

THE REMARKING is “considered to be inconsistent with fully compliant application” of the rules. The AQA now insists it is correcting the issue and addressing internal concerns to ensure they are fully compliant.

Most inconsistencies were with the GCSE English paper  Ofqual established that there was a hike in GCSE grades being changed – up 52 per cent on last year. Ofqual notices that an unusual number of students had submitted successful review cases, whereby the examining body remarks the paper and adjusts marks and ultimately grades.

Sally Collier – chief examiner – remarked she is “very disappointed” at the increase, appearing before an MP’s education select committee,

. She stated: “Some exam boards have implemented it very well, and some exam boards haven’t”.

The AQA recognised that “it failed to secure full compliance.”

The exam board has entered into a contract with the regulator to review and retrain its marker. The AQA has also committed to making clear “the circumstances in which changes of marks are appropriate, and in which they are not”.

This comes as some examining bodies prepare to enter the realm of digital marking. It may even mean the end of the remarking process altogether given that automatic marking is far more objective than a human marker.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority has stated it intends to switch over to computer based exams and marking by 2020. Automatic marking gets rid of human error. It allows the exam body to make real economic savings over traditional paper exams.

Craft your own online test today and discover the power of online marking. You also get access to a bank of ready made tests created by experts in their filed.

Create Your First Online Test Now:

Show The Middle Finger to Paper Exams

Look at your middle finger on your writing hand, see that little bump? It was probably caused by the hundreds of thousands words you wrote at school with a temperamental Biro.  We still expect students to frantically etch out their futures writing exams for hours at a time. But could digital exams and online quiz makers be the answer?

The Guardian reports that the Children’s Literacy Charity, complained that children are increasingly emailing Santa, rather than the traditional stamped letter to the North Pole.

Adults find little sympathy for young people being expected to write everything by hand. Of course we raise the point ‘I did it’, but it isn’t a fond memory. Perhaps we fail to hear their plight because so much of our own world consists of typed text. When was the last time you sat down at your writing bureau to pen a letter?


We don’t expect them to write out their CV’s by hand nor do they apply to further education in scrappy scroll. It is unfair to children who don’t quite develop their handwriting to exacting standards, they are penalised unnecessarily if the marker can’t read it on first glance.

writers bump


Children do retain information that it is written marginally better than typing, retention is not the aim. Handwriting in many instances hinders young people marks as they are more used to typing. They can type far quicker than they can write, and are missing out on marks they might otherwise receive.

Online Quiz Makers

Online quiz makers for teachers are frequently used to revise exam content, but when it comes to sitting the exam nothing has changed for about 300 years. Except perhaps the ink is now conveniently within the pen, and we’re not dabbing our feathers.

Schools simply must invest in digital exams and revision quizzes online, in this period of austerity it is no longer financially  sustainable to have the whole country doing paper tests. Physicality means the tests must be transported for miles as they’re sent round to markers, second markers then to HQ.

DesignATest is a really easy but very clever online testing platform. With automatic marking you can cut your workload in half, and save lots of trees at the same time!

The platform gives you access to the test bank, you can set pre-designed tests by leading experts in their field.

Design Your First Test Today @

Handwriting a Thing of The Past?


Handwriting is most definitely here to stay, and it is difficult to imagine a world where we would be able to live without the art. That said, it is not as important as the education system thinks it is.

In reality it is more useful to teach children how to type before they can write, given it is a great way to learn letters and the dexterous nature of a keyboard is far easier to learn than the crafted swoosh of a pen.

In the workplace handwriting is confined to personal notebooks. Would you ever submit a formal document in handwriting to your boss, never. People still cringe when they receive a handwritten receipt. So why do we require the vast majority of school work to be handwritten?

It’s estimated that adults currently type 70% of their writing. As the lines between the real and cyber spheres blur, what percentage would a child born today come to type?

Time to Change?  

Its clear that we should be teaching QWERTY not ABC if we are to fully prepare young people to compete in a globalised world.

There is systemic under funding as far as technology is concerned. There is also a training gap whereby technology can go unused in schools in favour of traditional ‘technical problem free’ methods. Pupils often gasp at some teachers lack of technical knowledge as they struggle to perform basic tasks like finding where to put a cable.

DesignATest is one technology changing the way we do testing. It is an easy and engaging way to create class tests and quizzes and helps educators assess individual student progression.

With multiple choice, long and short form answers as well as exam style questions you can fully assess achievement. Automatic marking and grading also cuts the teachers workload in half.

You can also communicate with colleagues and parents about matters of concern with the integrated emailing system. Students login with a simple pin code and can access tests at any time.

You’ll also get access to a test bank overflowing with ready made tests, created by experts in their field. Another great feature is that you can also include your own videos, slide shows and images into the learning process.

We’ll never truly wave goodbye to handwriting, but perhaps it will occupy a more novel and sentimental place rather than a practical function. Platforms like DesignATest are the future of learning; offering schools and teachers the opportunity to enter the digital sphere in a measured way.

Design Your First Test Today @

SATS Exams Cost The Tax Payer £44M a Year!

The new regime of SATS exams are costing the tax payer around £44m. The Department for Education (DfE) SATS spending has increased by 9% in just one year. Online exams can eradicate the cost of marking exams.
 The largest expense was £20.5 million on key stage 2 marking, according to the teachers organisation TES. They obtained the figures from the DfE through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The new SATS system was designed to compliment a tougher curriculum that was put in place from September 2015.

Ofqual, the exams regulator, remarked that the SATS in the 2015/2016 round were “unduly hard”.

Parents are up in arms about the reading segment of the English SAT; a pupil sitting the exam needs to pass all elements to be at an ‘acceptable standard’.

All whilst teachers unions are concerned about the new system and have threatened boycotts and strikes.

The National Teachers Union has said;

“The Sats fail to provide useful information to parents about how schools perform and don’t tell teachers anything useful to support individual pupils in their learning. Furthermore, the high-stakes nature of primary testing puts unnecessary pressure on pupils and education professionals.”

Staffing alone costs £10.8 million not including other essentials such as the professional skills tests for teachers.

Multiple Choice Test Online

We Can Cut Marking Costs by 100%!

A major part of the costs is down to the exams being paper based and the logistical nightmare of matching up classes to markers – who may very well be miles away.

SATS are extremely inefficient; like multiple choice sections where the tickboxes are simply crosschecked against a standard marking sheet.

Overlooked all too frequently is the availability of online exams, platforms even mark the tests automatically. If deployed on a large scale the Government could eradicate most of the logistical marking process.

Of course as soon as one suggests computer based examinations, schools and examining bodies begin to fret about cheating. Testing platforms by their online nature present new ways to get round the system; but no more than traditional testing.

Technology has surpassed these fears however given school networks can be easily restricted to produce a fair testing environment.

Online Exams Are The Future

The Scottish Qualifications Authority is transitioning to digital exam content by 2020. The Department for Education is  notoriously slow at adopting technology. There is a real disparity in the Scottish and English approach.

While we wait for the education to effectively enter the digital realm, there are platforms out there for class tests and quiz’s.

Furthermore at DesignATest we think teachers need a break from marking, our online test platform offers automatic grading.

You can easily create multiple -choice, short answer and exam style tests and get results instantly.

Try Us Out Today