A few "teething problems" bogged some students sitting their NCEA Level 1 English exam this morning in a digital format as part of pilot programme.

Zoe Tinkler, 16, a Year 11 Diocesan School for Girls student, who opted to sit the digital version of the exam, instead of a traditional hand-written paper, said a few students at her school encountered issues at the start of the exam.

However, she said it was not a fault of the exam system, but their own personal laptops.

"There were a few teething problems with that, but it wasn't that bad," she said.


For the digital version of the exam, pupils log into a New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) website, where they get a digital version of the exam paper, and answer the questions online. A teacher at the front of the room is able to monitor their online movements, to ensure they remain on the NZQA site.

It is part of a pilot programme launched this year by NZQA, which aims to have almost all exams online by 2020.

The site was fine, Tinkler said, the problems were more "laptop malfunctions", such as older devices shutting down.

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Some of her friends "felt like they could have lost time because of the mix ups that happened", she said, and were a little unsettled by it in the beginning.

However, "everyone remained quite calm because if your computer was to turn off or something was to happen they allow extra time at the end, they time how long that took up".

"I think it may have unsettled people but they were able to move on with it and finish the exam well at the end."

Other than the initial problems, her friends and fellow students "were feeling really good about it, and the questions they got were good for them to answer as well".

Tinkler was happy with her performance, she said, feeling like it went "really well".

"All the questions I got I had prepared for in advance," she said.

"I was really happy. I felt quite confident afterwards, so hopefully my results are good."

She even felt confident about her unfamiliar texts section, which had been her only concern ahead of the exam this morning.

"The texts were really easy to relate to, and just reading them you could easily pick out the author's purpose and key ideas. So that was really good as well."

People were feeling good coming out of the exam, she said.

"Most people are relieved that English is over because it's probably one of the harder subjects to study for.

"Because there's no real answers, you can't just do a practice test and then look at the answers in the back of the book."

She now has the weekend to swot up for science on Monday.

An NZQA spokeswoman said it was aware of the technical problems.

"This is something we are aware of and looking into," she said.

The exam body is piloting four NCEA Level 1 exams in digital format this year, including English, classical studies and media studies.

More than 100 schools, and 14,000 pupils are registered to sit take part in the trials and pilot exams this year, according to the NZQA website.